We anticipated much seeing our first Trullo (trulli is the plural form in Italian) house as we headed south from Bari. The trulli are unique to a small area in Puglia, and spilling a bit over into Basilicata. They are a distinctive round building with cone shaped roof, often clumped together in groups to form a series of connected buildings.
The trulli were “impermanent” as the people building them did not have the right granted them for permanent structures. So they were dry laid with no mortar to give the appearance of being easily disassembled. They had small windows and narrow doors to suggest no one would live there.
The walls of the houses are from 3 – 6 feet thick to be able to support the stone roofs. There is an inner wall made of stone block, an outer wall, and the middle filled with rubble from the stone carving. This made for drafty dwellings,
cool in the summer and cold in winter. The roofs are made with round rows, sloped down to let water run off. Rainwater off the roofs was collected in cisterns that were, on average, 10 feet by 10 feet by 10 feet. All the stone excavated from the cistern was used in the tulli construction. Roofs were
capped with carved stones. The quality of the mason and the wealth of the owner was evident in the complexity of the caps.
The houses were typically a collection of round buildings interconnected. In Alberobello there is a Territory Museum which houses Casa Pezzolla – a collection of 15 connected trulli providing a fascinating glimpse into life in these
structures. There was a large central structure which served as the living area. Off of it would be the kitchen and other rooms. The front entrance was a trullo
where they would put the donkey at night to occupy the entrance trullo. It added a little warmth and prevented the donkey from being stolen. In the
upper part of the cone roof there was often a sleeping loft accessible through a trap door.
The stone in the area is limestone. It is easily worked and a beautiful color when first cut. Over time, rain encourages the growth of moss and lichen on the stone and it becomes gray. Eventually this corrodes the stone leading to the need for periodic repair and replacement.
Next we’ll visit Alberobello, a town with 1500 Trulli!