You’re probably familiar with Alberobello in Puglia, Italy, even if you don’t know its name. Alberobello is the Southern Italian town filled with trulli (trullo, singular) houses, or those small white stone houses with domed roof tops that seem to be straight out of fairy tale. Its a super cute town, but also very , very touristy, even during the light travel summer of 2021. Here is how my husband and I spent a day in Alberobello if you are planning your own trip!
TOP TIPS: Arrive early, bring cash, dress in layers, wear walking shoes, and be sure to see inside a trullo by visiting the shops or restaurants.
SOME CONS: Super duper touristy, hilly with cobblestones making walking somewhat difficult, not as many people as we expected spoke English (this may be a positive!)
ALBEROBELLO & ITS TRULLI HOUSES
Located about a 30 mile drive inland from Polignano al Mare (where we based in Puglia), past the most insane olive trees that are SO old, Alberobello has been a town for a really, really long time. The trulli houses, for which Alberobello is now famous, come into play around the 1400s. According to history (and I believe some legend), the King of Naples, who ruled this area in the 1400s, issued an edict taxing new settlements in the area. To avoid paying tax, the Count who owned the land where Alberobello now stands required Alberobello’s inhabitants to build their houses without mortar so that they could be easily demolished if the taxing authorities from Naples visited. And boom, these white domed houses were created! Literally, Alberobello is full of them and the only difference are varying statutes on the top of the dome.
Trulli houses are now well known as adorable and a selfie site, but they were originally inhabited by laborers who were not paid well, and some of the trulli with families of ten plus living in a single trullo. For a better quality of life, many people left Alberobello, but the trulli remain and are now seeing a new day. Today, owning a trulli is quite the opportunity, as they are more popular than ever.
Aside from Alberobello, you can find trulli houses throughout this part of Puglia. We even saw them on the side of the road.
WHAT TO DO IN ALBEROBELLO
Many, many tourists visit Alberobello every year to see the trulli. If you are trying to beat the crowds, you, unfortunately, have missed the boat. That being said, the trulli are still cool to see and photograph, I just would not plan more than a few hours in town (maybe an unpopular opinion!).
Obviously, the main thing to do in Alberobello is to see and experience the trulli, and that is pretty easy and inexpensive to do. Before visiting, visitors should know that there are two primary parts of town for tourists purposes, with one being less touristy than the other. We started our exploring in the less touristy part of town, Rione Aia Piccola, which is filled with classic trulli in various states, from total disrepair to beautifully restored bed and breakfasts. You may even see a local if you are lucky! We walked around this part of town for a bit and entered a trullo that has been made to look like a trullo from back in the day. While not required, we left a 2 euro donation for the family maintaining the house. Rione Aia Piccola started to get crowded by around 10:00 AM.
Before heading into the main touristy area of Rione Monti, we took pictures at Belvedere Santa Lucia. Belvedere Santa Lucia is possibly the most famous viewpoint in Alberobello, and it was packed when we arrived around 10:30 in the morning. the views were just ok in my opinion….
We eventually made it to the other side of Alberobello, Rione Monti, which is much more touristy. Rione Monti is on a bit of a hill and is filled with nearly 1,000 trulli houses (!!), most of which are now shops and restaurants with “catchers” beckoning you in. We shopped for a bit and I purchased a gorgeous Puglian Christmas table cloth in a sea of touristy shops – you can indeed find something real! Even if you don’t want to buy, be sure to stop in to see the inside of a trullo.
Surprising to many, myself included, Alberobello is home to a winery, and a good winery at that! Called Cantina Albea, we visited, tasted some wines, and explored their wine museum. I’m going to do another post on wineries in Puglia, but Cantina Albea is really good. We shipped a box of Primitivo home, which will hopefully arrive on Monday!
WHAT TO EAT IN ALBEROBELLO
There are loads of restaurants in Alberobello, most of which are touristy and not great for my “Italy standard” (which honestly may still be decent, even touristy Italian food is usually quite good). We wanted something different than pizza and pasta, so our tour guide recommended L’Aratro, which is part of the Slow Food Movement. Slow Food Movement tries to source everything as close to “home” as possible and member restaurants are generally great. And, L’Aratro was indeed great! I went with local Cavatelli pasta and Dan went lamb; both excellent.
Our meal was great and we did not feel like we were in a super touristy restaurant. That being said, there were no locals aside from employees… I’ll be writing a separate post on our whole meal = )
HOW TO GET TO ALBEROBELLO AND AROUND ALBEROBELLO
Alberobello is a little more than a thirty-minute drive from Monopoli and Polignano al Mare, and that’s the easiest way to reach Alberobello. Parking is available right in town, but fills up during busy season. Go early. If you don’t have a car, taking a guided tour is a great way to spend an afternoon in Alberobello – that’s what we did! We paired our morning in Alberobello with an afternoon wine tasting in the country side. It was great! Information on our guide is below!
STEAL OUR TRIP
Puglialy: We did a private tour to Alberobello and two wineries. Pietro was our guide and he was great! Puglialy offers tours around the Northern Puglia region. Contact them directly for their offerings – some sample tours are online but they are willing to customize.
L’Aratro: Via Monte San Michele, 25-29 – Alberobello Bari – Puglia. Reservations recommended in high season, especially for lunch.
Cantina Albea: Via Due Macelli, 8, 70011 Alberobello BA, Italy. Closed Sunday and Saturday afternoon. Closed from about 12:30 – 3:30 daily, for pranzo, obviously!
ON A BUDGET
Some things Alberobello are definitely overpriced, but overall its not too bad, especially for a day trip. Stay in less expensive nearby towns, such as Monopoli, if you are looking to save on sleeping.