If you find yourself in southern Italy, you may find yourself compelled to stay at least a night or two in a trullo — a unique and local form of accommodation.
Trulli (the plural of trullo) are limestone dwellings common in the region of Puglia. They have some unique characteristics, leading many of them to ebecome protected under the UNESCO World Heritage program.
What’s a trullo?
Trulli are small pyramidal limestone houses that were built as early as the mid-14th century. When you’re driving around Puglia, you can easily distinguish them by their stone conical roofs or their whitewashed cylindrical walls.
They’re constructed purely in dry stone, without the use of mortar or other connecting material. It’s possible that this was just a convenient building style at the time, but there is another theory as to why so many of these little buildings appeared in southern Italy: Medieval tax evasion.
Some historians believe it was property taxes that originally got people to build these unusual houses. It let them avoid paying taxes levied on larger houses or easily dismantle and reconstruct their house to avoid inspection.
Since most trulli have just one or two rooms, they are arguably too small to serve as modern permanent living places. However, many trulli have been converted into charming little summer homes or to serve as tourist accommodation.
Staying in a trullo for at least a couple of nights will add a unique experience to your trip to Italy.
Where can you find trulli?
The construction style is specific to the Itria Valley area of Puglia. The largest concentration of them can be found in the town of Alberobello, which has over 1500 of these buildings. It’s the center of Alberobello that has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
However, you can also find trulli dotted all over the countryside, including around the towns of Locorotondo, Ceglie Messapica, Ostuni, Cisternino and Martina Franca.
While the easiest place to find them is Alberobello, keep in mind this is a tourist destination that sees a lot of day-trippers. It’s a delightful town but I would recommend against staying on the Via Monte S. Michele walking street, as it is full of people during the day, and it’s not as fun to be based amid countless souvenir shops. The surrounding little streets are a lot more inviting if you’re staying the night. All the trulli listed here are on other quiet streets away from the main tourist street.
Even though Alberobello is sometimes dismissed in travel guides as ‘too touristy’, don’t be put off. Despite some crowds, I found it a lovely little town to explore, especially if you’re visiting outside of the peak season around August. I was in Alberobello in May and had a great time browsing for souvenirs, taking pictures of the conical roofscapes, and having a lazy lunch under the trees.
To help you out, I’ve picked out a few of the best trulli in Alberobello on Airbnb (see above). But if you are traveling around Puglia by car, then you might quite enjoy staying in a more secluded trullo in the countryside.
My trullo experience
Instead of staying in Alberobello, we booked a trullo in the countryside through Airbnb. Our trullo was just a 10-minute drive south of the small city of Ostuni. It was nice to stroll around and have lunch in Ostuni during the day, and then have dinner back at our place.
As you’ll see when browsing them on Airbnb, some trulli are quite luxurious and some have added extensions to make them a lot more spacious. However, ours was kept mostly in its original state so it was a little basic. It had just a small bathroom and a cramped bedroom that also doubled as a kitchen with a small 2-stove furnace. It didn’t matter much though as it made our stay feel very much like a cozy camping trip.
Our trullo was sadly of a type that doesn’t have a conical roof, which are the ones I most adore. But this did make it possible to sit on top of the roof and observe the night sky while drinking a glass of local wine. It was fantastic to stay in the Puglian countryside, enjoy the quiet atmosphere, and go for some walks between the olive trees and orchards.
If you have the chance to stay in a countryside trullo, I can highly recommend it! It added an extra element to our Puglia trip, during which we mostly stayed in seaside towns or cities such as Lecce.
In the countryside I think is the most authentic way to experience a trullo, while still allowing you to visit Alberobello along the way.
How to book a trullo
Since most trulli are privately owned, the best two places to look for them are the open accommodation platforms Booking.com and Airbnb. The latter seemed to have the most trulli on offer. Also, if you’re using Airbnb for the first time, you can benefit from up to €50 free credit by signing up using this link.
To help you out, I scoured Airbnb and assembled this list of the cutest trulli Airbnbs for your trip.
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