With its narrow pedestrianised streets, little shops selling local produce and a few nice cafes and trattorie offering al fresco dining, Alberobello is a great day out for families with young children, who, in our experience, love the trulli and remember them as one of the highlights of their holiday!
The town is named after the primitive oak forest Arboris Belli (beautiful trees) that once covered this area. It’s an amazing place, but also something of a tourist trap – from May to October busloads of tourists pile into trullo homes, drink in trullo bars and shop in trullo shops. Try to visit in the morning to avoid the arrival of tourist buses and the inevitable throng of visitors.
If you park in Lago Martellotta, follow the steps up to Piazza del Popolo, where the Belvedere Trulli lookout offers fabulous views over the whole higgledy-piggledy picture.
Once you arrive in the town’s centre, it’s immediately clear where to head – the Rione Monti quarter within the ‘trulli zone’. Up a slight hill, it contains over 1,000 trulli and almost no other type of building style. It is touristy, with gift shops on every other door way, but it is also very very pretty.
Walking amongst the trulli here will also make you feel like a giant! The best plan is to have no plan, and simply meander and wander to your heart’s content, finding the odd quiet street or ridiculously photogenic nook off the main thoroughfare.
When in Rione Monti, shop-owners will sit or stand outside in the sunshine and try to tempt you inside for a look around – there’s obviously a hope that you may buy something, but there isn’t a hard sell, and it offers an opporunity to see how these buildings are structured inside. Tourism is clearly the lifeblood of the economy in Alberobello, so do try to contribute if you find something you like or want a souvenir.
For a more authentic sense of what it means to live amongst the trulli, head across to the Rione Aia Piccola district, which has 500 or so trulli and is less commercialised. It was here where we enjoyed our time most, catching a glimpse of locals who still call these gnome-sized buildings home and elderly groups of Italian men out for a stroll in the streets that were theirs long before the tourists arrived. It also affords you the best views over the clustered trulli patches of Alberobello.
If you’re keen to understand a little more history behind Alberobello and trulli in particular, we’d recommend taking a walking tour.