It looks like a fairy place, born from a child’s pencil. Yes, because only a child’s imagination could have invented those fairytale houses that are the trulli. And after drawing them she was able to place them in one land so green and full of perfumes. Yet, scrolling through the guide of the Itria valley you understand that it’s all true, that it’s not the drawing of an imaginative brat. That here are the man and his story to have given birth to such a scenario. Where the the earth is red, the olive trees green and the trulli white candid. A banner of wonder.
So let’s try to discover this catalog of colors that mix in the Itria valley, a corner of beauty in Pugliabetween the provinces of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto, enclosed, roughly, between the municipalities of Alberobello, Cisternino, Locorotondo and Martina Franca. Where once there was water. In fact, this land was in prehistoric times ithe bottom of a sea which then emerged and gave life to one karst-type valley which for centuries was then cultivated with vineyards while they were formed underground caves and ravines more or less large. And the most famous is that of Castellana.
Under cavities, above fertile ground: and every guide of the Val D’Itria will tell you about the scents of the Mediterranean bush which here explodes in its splendor while, since the time of the Greeks, the space was contended for vineyards and olive groves. Other symbols of the area that surrounded as it is by Murge mountains enjoy the caress of the nearby sea.
The secret of the trulli
But for everyone this is it valley of the trulli. And we have to start from these strange constructions. Explaining that they are houses – not houses. It’s no joke: their story in fact stems from the shepherds’ need to set up gods shelter with stones found on the spot, a stone’s throw from the pasture or near the fields. Over time i viceroy of Naples they established that in order to build houses with mortar, and therefore resistant and fixed, it was necessary pay a large sum. It was a problem and the poor people here decided to get around the obstacle by raising the trulli which were buildings which, however, being done dry, without a binder such as mortar, they could be disassembled in a few minutes. And so they did not pay in the case of an inspection.
Cunning? Certainly. But also a stroke of genius because they have given life to the unique show of these round houses with a conical roof which ends with a pinnacle and which ad Alberobello cover an entire hill. And in fact those that have come down to us, now very different from the miserable huts of the past and now a tourist attraction known all over the worldare over 1500.
The guide of the Itria valley: Alberobello
The country of trulli it is unique in the world. And in fact it is clear from how it has been overwhelmed by tourism. However it deserves to be seen. And it’s easy to turn around. The heart of the trulli area is the Monti district which rises towards the side of a hill with small parallel streets lined with white houses. Here the trulli are over 1000 while in the area called Aia district small there are another 400. You let go of your legs, take pictures and peek inside the trulli – many become souvenir and local shops – until you reach the top of the hill where the church of Saint Anthony of Padua. Which is obviously, in turn, shaped like a trullo.
Then walking you can meet the most famous pieces such as the Siamese trulli, curiously united, but also the one called Sovereignwhich rises on two floors and above all the Territorial museum which occupies about fifteen trulli connected to each other. Finally, go up the staircase and arrive at the Belvedere Santa Lucia: from here you can admire the panorama of Alberobello from above and take some photos. But remember: queues often take place due to the crowding. But to see this surreal panorama invented by a brilliant child is worth the wait.
Cisternino, white labyrinth
But we continue to browse the pages of our own guide of the Itria valley. And the next stop is Cisternino that even without the magic of the trulli or particular monuments strikes and fascinates for its serene and authentic atmosphere. And for flattery for the palate since between the alleys of white houses and spots of flowers appear in the evening the shops and butchers that are transformed into grills: and eating freshly roasted meat in that magical context is something special.
But the real discovery is to walk among the white alleys where the houses are perched on each other, joined by irregular arches, stairs and vaults, up to the top of this hill where the ancients Messapians they built the first settlement which later became Roman and dedicated to a hero of the Trojan War. Even if then, as always, the current face of the country was given by a thousand invaders that have occurred over the centuries. The center of the town however is in the Garibaldi square where one stands out Norman tower which served as an observation point over the valley although today to admire the expanses of olive trees and the plain below is the best place the belvedere located at the end of the municipal park.
Then off for a stroll through the various areas that make up the historic center here and which have particular names: “Bere Vecchie”, “Scheledd”, “UPantène”, “L’isule” And “u Bùrie” which widen out in a ball of narrow streets, small open spaces and blind alleys up to the church dedicated to St. Nicholas and admiring the palaces like that of the Governor, Palazzo Pepe or Palazzo Cenci. But above all looking up looking for unexpected and surprising glimpses.
Locorotondo, the circular town
Surprising is, however, every page of the guide of the Val d’Itria and surely the next stop will be: Locorotondo. The name derives from the fact that it once had a rounded shape. Now that circle has been partially lost but the beauty of this has remained village 400 meters above sea level and inserted between the Most beautiful villages in Italy. Here too, before entering the alleys and squares, it is advisable to have a look at the green plain of trees and dappled with the white of trulli and farms while in the center what stand out are the balconies full of flowers and the pointed roofs cummerse, the classic houses typical of the area. Yet another architecture that remains imprinted in the eyes and in the memory.
Frescoed churches and wine tastings
Then it’s time to stroll passing by Mother Church of San Giorgio at the St. Nicholas church admiring the frescoes and bas-reliefs but especially the Our Lady of the Greek Church with antique decorations and a Renaissance polyptych dedicated to Our Lady of Roses. Then, the dutiful stop to pay homage to the other secular symbol of the town: the Locorotondo wine Doc which was born in this part of the plain that has always been lucky for its beauty and flavours.
Let’s go now towards the last stage of our trip among the beauties of the Itria valley. And we come to Martina Francathe center most populous in the area and unique for the style of its houses where it reigns the baroque. A bit like what happens to Lecce although here we are in Taranto province and this baroque is so special as to be defined, precisely, Martinese. Martina Franca is also on a plateau and has always been inhabited even if its golden age was in the 18th century when the most beautiful palaces arose among which one cannot fail to mention the Ducal Palace with its rooms full of frescoes and the St Martin’s Basilica which, in the heart of the centre, is striking for its majestic façade where the statue of the patron saint.
Oil, bank peaks and corners of peace
Then, as always, leave it to the imagination and curiosity and wander between the palaces and squares enjoying the stroll on the main road, course Messapia and look for a place to taste the classic white wine DOP Martina Franca maybe to combine with turnip greens dishone of the gastronomic symbol of Puglia along with local bread and olive oil. Then, end up at the municipal park, a peaceful corner amidst trees and fountains, discovering the freshness of the greenery and breathing in the relaxing atmosphere. Between trulli and white marble palaces, however, there is always a special atmosphere here.