Visiting Southern Italy was one of the most psychologically difficult journeys. Why? Hard to even say. Perhaps, the approaching winter, the self-sufficiency of the Sicilians, the harsh climate of Sicily and the landscapes around with territories delimited. In any case, we had hoped for more than we experienced visiting several regions of the country. We decided to go to Sicily later again to understand this and experience more olive oil, pasta, and pizza. And who knows what else.
When I am reviewing these travel notes, our last trip was to Sicily again. There are things what have not changed and some appearing different. However, that’s not the story here. We started our first trip to Sicily in Puglia, and that’s exactly what this story is about.
The trip started in the southeast of Italy at the end of September, when we landed at Brindisi Airport, in the province of Bari, Puglia region. If you have had a look at map of Italy, then it’s the very heel of the Italian “boot”. Puglia is washed by two warm seas – the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea – very well placed.
The area of the Puglia region is 19,345 square kilometres and the population is about four million people. The Puglia region has similar size of such countries as Slovenia and Israel. As the region is stretched in length, it borders with three other regions of Italy – Molise, Campania and Basilicata.
Another interesting fact is that Puglia is one of the most archaeologically rich regions and has previously been inhabited and ruled by Greeks, Muslims and neighbouring Sicilians.
Brindisi is located just over a hundred kilometres from the provincial capital Bari, although we had to drive only 80 kilometres to Alberobello, where we had booked Relais Masseria Rosa hotel and had planned to see the city the next day. The hotel is accomodated in a typical trulli (or trullo) building. The city has an area where this type of cottages can be seen and it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1966.
But in Italy, as in Italy – you never know what will happen in a short while. And so, we didn’t get out of the airport for a while being quite seriously stuck in the car rental office. When we finally solved all the problems successfully and got our car, it was already completely dark and no sighting on the way to Alberobello was possible.
Shortly before midnight, we found a hotel on the outskirts of the city and decided that we would soon have to go to sleep. However, Italy remains Italy and this time it surprised us in a very positive way. As it turned out, there is a huge swimming pool in the hotel territory and, as the water in it was really warm, the thoughts of going to bed faded and we spent very good time swimming in the pool.
Alberobello trulli houses
Trulli houses in this area were built in the distant past many centuries ago. Houses are built of layered stones with conical roofs; the main advantage of this type of building is that no cement is needed to hold it together. In principle, there is no need for a wooden or other type of frame, because the structure as a whole holds itself together.
The locals knew that in ancient times, when various rulers sent their troops to southern Italy to encircle new territories or tax inspectors to collect taxes, it was enough for the house owner to pull out some stones in a certain place and the house collapsed leaving only a pile of stones. When the danger was over, the landlord put the house back together with a relatively small effort in a short time and continued to live peacefully.
Since ancient times, hundreds of trulli houses have survived and about four hundred are located in the small town of Alberobello. Many of them are private homes, however some of them can be visited as hotels, souvenir shops and similar establishments. On the roofs there are interesting signs; they say they are magical.
To the south of Italy
After several hours of walking around the town, we left Alberobello, because our next and the main destination on this trip was the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily – see other travel notes on this blog. On the way we stopped in the Calabria region, where there are beautiful beaches, one of them in Tropea. Just to admit that southern Italy has many beautiful beaches.
Tropea is a coastal resort town on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea; on the cliffs there is an old town with fortifications, which looks impressive from the beach. This place is also called the beach of the gods. Tropea is probably the most famous city in the Calabria region because of the beach and the spectacular views that it offers; it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Calabria region.