Alberobello and its Trulli turned out to be an excellent double header day trip with Matera and its Sassi. Both places feature vernacular responses to an extremely rugged landscape with little in the way of building materials. Whereas in Matera they dug their homes out of the rock valley walls, in Alberobello they built their houses from stacked stone, constructing elaborate but small domed structures, that are theoretically temporary (they are dry-stacked without the use of mortar) but are actually some of the oldest buildings in the region.
As in Matera, a few of the houses have been fitted up as museums displaying the furniture and objects of their historic life. This one, Trullo Souvrano, is atypical, being the only two storied trullo in the region and combining a large number of domes into one dwelling – for a wealthy family. The interiors are surprisingly light and airy considering the smallness of the windows and doors. Aggressive whitewashing helps a lot, as does the light bounce effect of the vaulted ceilings.
While there are a few excellent but small museums, the chief thing to do in Alberobello is wander around it, which I did for a number of hours on a blindingly sunny day. After I had strolled most of the streets in both the tourist area and the quieter old quarter, I struck out of town on a country road to see a few Trulli in their natural habitat – as farm auxiliary structures.
As I was waiting to catch said bus, a tiny Italian crone approached me and asked some questions about the bus time. We ended up having a long chat about my travels and history in the simply elementary school Italian I’d accumulated after a month. I was able to tell her where I’d been, that I was travelling alone for four months, headed from Madrid to Istanbul. I told her about my family and that I was an architect – AIA regulations about internship titles being quite beyond my language skills – and she wanted to know if I was married. Not yet? Ah well there’s still time. In summary, she shook her head and called me courageous three times in five minutes – which I easily translated in my head to “you’re crazy to be doing this.” I was just happy to have such a complete communication. I returned to Bari on the bus at the end of the day sunburned and pleased with myself.