Hey there! Thanks for stopping by. If you follow us, you know that we have been expats living in Europe for the last ten years. We were lucky enough to live in Southern Italy for one year and we spent countless hours exploring little villages and amazing historic sites. One of our absolute favorite destinations is the town of Alberobello, Italy, with its cool cone-shaped houses.
The Cone Shaped Houses
of Alberobello Italy
History of Alberobello
The town of Alberobello was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It has recently come to the attention of tourists and big name news organizations like The Huffington Post. The town originates back 700 years. Yes, really!
The trulli, or cone-shaped houses, are unique, limestone, cone-shaped houses that were built with no mortar or concrete to hold them together and were originally built by peasants in the area. Are these the cutest little houses you have ever seen?
The houses were built this way so when the kings’ tax collectors came to collect, the houses could be quickly dismantled and they would not be taxed. Cool, right? Don’t you wish your house could disappear with the pull of a stone? Many say that the story is not true; it was more so due to the conditions of the area… but, hey, what fun is that? I like the tax story better, don’t you?
Each house was designed with a pinnacle at the top; the shape of the pinnacle is the signature of whomever built it. You know, like a Trulli Picasso!
Many of the houses have paintings or symbols on them that are often tributes to the gods or religious saints. They were painted to protect the inhabitants of the houses. I am not sure about living in the house with that spider-looking thing protecting me though…
What to see in Alberobello
There are two sides to the ancient UNESCO Site. The first, Rione Monti, has 1000 trulli houses, shops, and local businesses. You can see the homes built down the hillside of Alberobello. The best time to just wander the small lanes is after lunch. The smaller, less touristy side is Aja Piccola. It is on the eastern side of the main road, Via Indipendenza; it only has about 400 trulli houses. Here you can find small shops with rooftop patios that you can climb up and see the view of the trulli cone roofs. Many shop owners might ask for a donation to climb up; just drop a few coins in the basket. It is worth it to see the view.
Church Parrocchia Saint Antonio
This church was originally called Madonna delle Grazie and was built around 1400. It was built at break-neck speed and completed in 14 months. The story is that the local priest was angry about the spread of the Protestant religion and wanted to build a monument and relic for the Catholic religion… and fast. The church was later renamed the Church of St. Antonio. During WWII, part of the bell tower was destroyed in an air raid, but it has all been restored. Beautiful, right?
Trullo Siamese – the Twin Trullo
The Trullo Siamese is one of the most ancient homes of Alberobello and has an inscription from the 15th century to prove its age. The trullo has two, centrally joined domes, like twins, which is totally unique. The story behind this twin, cone-shaped home, is that there were two brothers who had fallen in love with the same woman. Uh oh… never a good thing.
She had been promised to the older brother by agreement between the families; however, she had fallen in love and started a relationship with the younger brother. The brothers decided to build and live in the house all together. Weird, or maybe I am just not good at sharing. At first, the love triangle lived under the same roof, but eventually it was just too much for the older brother. Eventually, they divided the house and built an extra door in the back. I would have moved! The trulli house was all redone in 1997 and is now a souvenir shop.
This trulli is in the more modern part of town and is the first and only two-story cone-shaped house in the world. It was built by a wealthy priest in the first part of the 18th century.
Inside the house are the first built-in closets and 23 stone steps leading to the higher floors. The house even had a trap door, between the first and second floor, which the priest used as a hiding place. I’m not sure why he was hiding, but he felt the door was a necessity. At the time, it was quite a feat of architecture and huge in size, relatively speaking. For this reason it was named “Sovrano” meaning “monarch” or “king” in Italian. Because of its unique architecture and one-of-a-kind building, it was declared a national monument in 1930. Today, it is a small museum and souvenir shop.
Cantina Albea Winery and Museum
Cantina Albea – a small winery located in Alberobello and owned by Tommaso Marangi. You can tour the winery and the museum, learning how the wine is made and all that goes into the family winery. The shop has a cool gas pump that you can pump your wine into a plastic jug for wine to go! The family actually owns 53 hectares of land and makes over 20,000 cases of wine a year. They have a tasting room and are happy to give you all the ins and outs of how they make their wines. You know how I feel about wine – there is never enough!
Museo del Territorio Casa Pezzolla
Casa Pezzolla, meaning “museum of the territory,” is a museum that is furnished as it would have been in the 19th century. A normal living space of a trulli was 50 square meters (or approximately 538 square feet), a main floor, and a loft for the children to sleep in. The trulli home could house up to eight family members and was sparsely furnished. It was heated with a fireplace in the center, and cooking was done on the open fire as well. You can check out the museum website here for more information.
The House of Love
The House of Love, built in 1797, was the very first house constructed in limestone and mortar. The name comes from the original family, Franncesco d’ Amore, who took part in the uprising in the 18th century.
The house was built as a sign of victory against tyranny, and the materials that were used were used as a show of defiance. At the time, all people were ordered to dry build (no mortar) with stone. Later, with his lead, a royal decree allowed people to build with limestone, mortar, and other building materials. Due to his part in the passing of the new law, the house has historical meaning and was named a historic monument in 1930. Yeah! Today, it is the local tourism office of Alberobello.
Where to eat in Alberobello
Antica Salumeria is a small meat and cheese shop. Most likely, you will just wander by and stop to gaze at the drying prosciutto hanging in the store; however, this little gem is a locally-owned food store with a tasting room. The owner is so nice and will do anything to ensure that you eat, drink, and taste all the best Alberobello has to offer. You will stop in for a snack and end up spending the day – it’s just an amazing little place. Stop by if you are in the area! If you want the lowdown on the best food to eat in the region, check out our post on the best foods of Puglia.
La Cantina is a locally-owned restaurant on the main street in Alberobello. It has a cute little dining room and an open kitchen where they prepare all the food in front of you. The food was fantastic! We had excellent antipasto and local wine followed by handmade pasta and meats. Amber enjoyed the cheese and sweets! If you are looking for tips on dining out, make sure to check out our post on dining out in Italy!
Where to stay in Alberobello
In a trulli house, of course! My pick is the Trulli Holiday Resort. They have multiple sizes, depending on your needs, WiFi, and kitchens. I think anyone stopping to visit Alberobello needs to stay overnight in an authentic, 700-year-old trulli home! Compare prices here
How to get to Alberobello
Renting a car is also a great option and a wonderful way to see so much of Italy. We rent with Fox Rent A Car, and we think they have some of the best prices and options across Europe!
Tours in Alberobello
Our recommendations for amazing tours and things that you must see while in Alberobello are, of course, everything I wrote about. My suggestion is the private, two-hour walking tour of Alberobello where you will see everything on my list and hear the stories from a private guide. Or you can take the private tour with a wine tasting – this is my choice because no day in Italy is complete without a glass of wine! You can check out prices here.
Language in Alberobello
In this area you will face a challenge finding a lot of people who speak English. Brush up on your Italian with Pimsleur language programs and try out a FREE Italian lesson with Pimsleur by clicking the banner below!
I hope you enjoy Alberobello and the cone shaped houses, as much as we did! If you are traveling in the area of Puglia, make sure you check out our other local posts on Matera, Lecce, and the Foods of Puglia! Have you been? Did I forget anything that is a must-see sight? Do you have any questions? Drop a comment below and let me know!