Dreaming in Trullo
Years back, before Frantoi was even an idea, we must have passed hours on lazy Sunday afternoons reading about and discussing the dream of owning a trullo, the quaint rural dwellings with conical roofs that dot the Puglia countryside.
The dream remained just a dream (thankfully, others did come true), but the joy of seeing all these little houses in a recent trip to Puglia, has rekindled that sense of amazement of the land in this beautiful part of Italy: tidy parcels of land, kept with pride, the soil profoundly red and rustic, with enormous, ancient olive trees corkscrewing towards the blue sky. In this landscape, the numerous dry stone walls betray complicated patchwork ownership, and to almost comical effect, the trulli mushroom here and there, fairytale-like.
Trulli have been part of this landscape for centuries – millennia perhaps: the layering of round stones and a conical roof can be found in many places where these kind of rocks (limestone or tufa) are easily found. Perfectly round, with only one door, no windows, sometime a rudimentary chimney, they are dry stone – so they can be put up and down quite easily. This last consideration was one of the main reasons trulli became so widespread in the Itria Valley of Puglia: the feudal lords around the 16 century were taxed for any permanent construction on their land, so they encouraged their agricultural labourers to live in a house that could be knocked down very easily, by removing just 2 or 3 key stones that kept the structure intact.
Trulli have been recognised for their cultural heritage as well as beauty, and those that have been restored are in fact permanent, bonded with cement and often with all the modern amenities that make holiday homes – including taxes, which the owners will complain about. They maintain their painted symbols on the roof (including pagan ones), and have become a cultural highlight for visitors, particularly around the trulli capital Alberobello, which attracts tourists from far and wide. Watching the conical shapes of the trulli pop up in this magnificent landscape, the dream of spending lazy summers here, tending the land with the same pride of the Pugliesi, looking at the immensity of the olive trees that have been left to grow for centuries, resurfaces an old happy memory of those lazy Sunday afternoons now passed.