OK, just say it: hobbits. Insert several Bag End references here. The Puglian dwelling known as a a trullo brought hairy-footed heroes to my mind. Even my Lonely Planet guide book makes a Tolkien reference—although, on closer thought, I’m not sure why. Isn’t the main feature of hobbit dwellings that they’re hole-y, and built into the ground? Well, I digress. Suffice it to say that for our week in Puglia, we rented a trullo, a building unique to this area.
Trulli are small, round or with several round components, and feature conical roofs made from local limestone. Far from being a tourist or historical relic, they are still worked and lived in today. In the countryside where we stayed (outside Locorotondo), I was amazed at how many of these structures dot the landscape of olive trees and modern homes.
We found “our” trullo on British site Holiday Lettings, and it seems funny to think back because we weren’t looking for a trullo at all; we had no idea what it was. We weren’t even looking for Puglia. We were simply looking for a peaceful place, for two people, probably in Italy, with a kitchen, where we could go for a week. We had a list of criteria for the nearby area: good food, wine, beach, mountains. The trullo jumped right out at me because of the description of the area’s food culture, and also because it had a private pool and outdoor cooking area for a reasonable price. To be honest, it seemed a little “too good to be true,” and I was nervous about renting it because the site disassociates itself from responsibility for the listings. But we corresponded with the owner; harassed her really, I think (she may never rent to Americans again), in our search to authenticate her… and then went for it.
When we asked for directions prior to our arrival, Enza told us in her minimalist English that we would not find it on our own, and that she would meet us at a local pizzeria. She did, and she was probably correct. We followed her (as she zipped easily along the crazy local roads) home to a property set back off the small road. “Our” trullo sat just in front of (but separated by a small fence from) the owners’ home, and at first the proximity was a little jarring for me. However, the majority of the week we saw/heard hardly anything of their family.
We spent a lot of time in the trullo and in the pool, because in the middle of the day in Puglian August, it gets hot, hits 90 F and keeps on going. But the trullo—with its limestone walls and few little windows—was always cool. It’s impressive, and part of the reason for the design and material choice. We had asked if the trullo had air conditioning, but we never needed it. We ran a fan at night, but it was mostly because I like white noise.
As I previously mentioned, Alberobello was the only place in Puglia where we really encountered other non-Italian tourists—and lots of them. This town was swarming with tourists, and every other trullo was a shop selling the most appalling trullo kitsch. Ugh. I literally got a headache in Alberobello. The view from the “new town” looking over the trulli city was pleasing for a couple moments. Other than that, there was a wine shop called Enoteca L’Anima del Vino. They had a good selection (and local wine is so affordable), and if you spend too long in Alberobello, you may need to stop in.