What To Do In Alberobello, Italy: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Monday, March 27, 2017

Photo by J

About Alberobello


Located in the heel of the boot, in Italy's Apulia (Puglia) region, Alberobello is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique trulli architecture. A trulli is a special type of building or home made mostly of limestone stacked in an incredibly intricate manner. This style of home was created in the 1700s when Alberobello needed to pay town taxes based upon the number of homes. Trulli could be easily dismantled, so when tax collectors would come, citizens could knock down their homes and pay lower taxes! Very clever if you ask me -- stickin' it to the man since the 1700s!

Though trulli can be seen elsewhere in the Apulia region (keep your eyes out while on the train!), the highest concentration can be found in Alberobello, with some peeking out from behind more modern buildings and more than 1,000 can be found on a hill in one specific area -- Rione Monti.

While marveling at the trulli, do keep your eyes open for the unique, stacked limestone rooftops that ore often topped by white decorations. These decorations have different religious and pagan meanings. 



Photo by J

Getting There


I'm one for choosing public transportation when possible, so instead of renting a car, we opted to visit Alberobello via train from Bari. It was approximately a two hour train ride and the trains came frequent enough to make it comfortable. Grab a map at the train station and you are good to go.

Photo by J


Where to Eat and What to See


Black & White Cafe

We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived in Alberobello, so we stopped for a coffee and quick pastry at the Black & White Cafe, which was just across from the train station. The cake I had was really tasty and they had a pretty decent selection of gluten free goodies.

Basilica dei S.S. Medici

Located about a 10 minute walk or so from the train station, the Basilica dei S.S. Medici is pretty eye catching.  It stands in the middle of a wide street and behind it is a section with a high concentration of trulli.


Chiesa S. Antonio

Chiesa S. Antonio is a beautiful trulli church that is relatively new, built in the 20th century. You can enter the church for free, and I recommend you do, as the stone interior, with its drastic arches is really pretty cool.

 

Playground 

Located right across from the Chiesa S. Antonio, with tons of trulli surrounding it, there was a wonderful playground. Now, if you don't have kids, playgrounds probably don't feature on your top places to visit list, but there were some really great views from here!


Trullo Sovrano

We missed visiting Trullo Sovrano, but I'm a bit bummed about it since I really wanted to see the interior of a trulli. Apparently, visitors can enter Trullo Sovrano, which a grand trulli decorated in appropriate furniture. You can read more about it here.


Unpopular Opinion


Now, I was really impressed by the amazing architecture of the trulli and though that the crafts person in charge of originally building them must have been highly skilled and meticulous. The initial street in the Rione Monti section that we stumbled upon to walk into the trulli-concentrated area was mostly deserted, as we were there in mid-February -- I have read that it gets over-crowded in the high season.

Though I marveled at the architecture and would have liked to see the interior of a home, I perhaps hold an unpopular opinion -- is Alberobello too touristy?

The next main street we walked on was full of shops selling the same souvenirs with shop keepers yelling after you in English to purchase their goods. Now, in my opinion, this is the exact opposite way to attract me to visit a shop (or restaurant for that matter). However, I have read that the sections near Basilica dei S.S. Medici and Rione Monti are the most touristy, whereas the section called Rione Aia Piccola is less visited by tourists. So, perhaps that is where we should have visited.

But to get to the root of the matter -- does naming something a UNESCO World Heritage Site sometimes have the negative effect of making a place that was once unique turn into something too touristy, too much like Disney Land? But at least this way the beautiful historic architecture is protected, so maybe it has both positives and negatives?

Love this photo by J!




Photo by J

Photo by J

Photo by J


Final tips

To get the best of Alberobello, I'd suggest visiting in the off-season. In February, the weather was reasonably warm and we were virtually the only people walking through the trulli areas. I think it would be too much to visit during the spring and summer. If you want to avoid the heavily visited areas, perhaps Rione Aia Piccola is the best option for you.




What is your opinion of UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Have you been to Alberobello?

2 comments:

  1. That place looks beautiful, and I've never heard of it before. I hate being surrounded by tourists too. I think that's why I don't really like Asia. I liked Moscow because there were tourists but the city is so big that it wasn't hard to lose them.

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    1. I'd love to visit Moscow! All of that amazing architecture! I actually really like everywhere I've visited in Asia, but I think I've somehow managed to avoid the overly touristy places for the most part. Not sure how I did that!

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