Puglia Cooking Vacation: What are Trulli?
Puglia may be one of the lesser known regions in Italy, but it has a beauty and charm all its own. The beauty comes in part due due to trulli (or the singular trullo), which are cone-shaped homes located all over the Itria Valley, including Bari, home to our Puglia cooking vacations.
What makes these stunning prehistoric buildings so unique is not just how they look but how they're built. They aren't made with mortar. Rather, the walls are constructed with limestone boulders that were found in fields, while the cone-shaped roof is designed with limestone slabs called chianche. This design naturally keeps the interior — where there are modern-day features, such as wooden staircases — cool during the summer time and warm during the cooler months. Fireplaces and ovens are even built into the stone.
While these trulli today are on solid stone foundations, that was not always the case. When they were originally built centuries ago, they could easily be deconstructed, which is exactly what happened whenever the tax man was on his way into town.
That practice of tax evasion stopped around 1620, and the trulli that you see today were built. When you visit the fairytale town of Alberobello — a UNESCO World Heritage site — during our culinary vacation "A Culinary Adventure in Puglia" or "Discovering Puglia," you'll also notice that all of the cones are slightly different, as the residents have put either religious or mythological symbols on the roofs. These symbols have different meanings, but they're often used for requests for protection or a good harvest.
Today, the trulli are homes, but they also contain shops, restaurants, and charming hotels.
By Liz Hall