When it comes to Italy, who doesn’t want to visit ancient Rome, dreamy Venice, poetic Naples, and the Amalfi Sea with its overwhelming beauty? However, if you don’t like destinations swarming with international tourists, commercialization, and hustle and bustle, head to the far reaches of Southeastern Italy to immerse yourself in the flow of culture, nature, and history. by Puglia
Alberobello – The Heart of The Italian Heel
Puglia (or Apulia), also known as the “heel of the Italian shoe”, is a land that juts out into the sea towards Greece, extending from the Adriatic Sea in the north to the Ionian Sea in the south of Italy. Puglia has an impressive long coastline, emerald green beaches, and diverse architecture. With a strategic geographical location and fertile soil, this is also the land with the most impressive history in Italy. More than 3,000 years of history have left Puglia with the white, white village of Alberobello covered with hilltops, surrounded by peaceful vineyards, olives, and cherries.
LOST IN THE LAND OF TRULLO
After arriving in Bari, the capital of Puglia, the first destination I visited was the UNESCO world cultural heritage site, the ancient village of Alberobello. There are many ways to get to Alberobello from Bari such as by train, coach, or taxi. My dear Puglia friend told me that, in Puglia, bus and bus schedules are more reliable than trains. So we chose to book bus tickets online through Trenitalia’s website. Italy has always given me one surprise after another. Welcoming us was a sign that the station was closed. When we were bewildered because Google was useless, we saw a crowd of people crammed, waving tickets spilling onto the roadway. The broken phrases of “Alberobello”, and “Alberobello” caused the instincts of a travel enthusiast to kick in, telling me that, perhaps, this was the place I needed to be.
The bus ride from Bari to Alberobello is very short, only about an hour. Looking through the car window, you will see fields of olives interspersed with cherries along both sides of the road. Lurking somewhere are Trullo huts with characteristic pointed tile roofs. Hundreds of years ago, trullo was built as a temporary residence and food store in the fields. Today, they are still used by farmers in the Puglia region in their daily agricultural activities.
Arriving in Puglia at 11 am, we followed the flow of people on the road leading to the old village. The scenery of the ancient village of Alberobello is far from the most famous sights in Europe that I have ever visited. In the distance, countless undulating conical roofs covered the hills, making me feel like I was lost in the land of the green Smurfs. There are about 1,500 such trullo houses in Alberobello. The dry limestone slabs were erected using a non-mortar technique, surrounded by whitewashed walls, creating a characteristic cylindrical design. The mythological or religious conical roof is painted with white ash, finished with a decoration on the top intended to ward off bad luck. The thick stone walls contrast with the pretty small windows, keeping the temperature inside the trullo cool even in the blazing sun outside. Although it’s only the beginning of summer, the daytime temperature in Alberobello is already around 35 – 36oC. However, just stepping inside a trullo, you will feel like entering another world.
Of course, having been to Alberobello, no one can ignore the experience of living in a trullo. There are hundreds of Trullo apartments for rent scattered around the old village, but I chose Terrazza Sui Trulli because I fell in love with the view on the balcony at first sight. Terrazza Sui Trulli enjoys a prime location in the center of the old village with a balcony and terrace with panoramic views of Alberobello. Daniele, the young and cheerful manager of Terrazza Sui Trulli, greeted us with a bright smile while still gliding on an electric scooter. After checking in, Daniele took us to the terrace to admire the panoramic view of the old village and give a brief introduction about the history, the must-see attractions as well as the favorite restaurants of the locals.
SLOW DOWN IN ALBEROBELLO
The trullo houses in Alberobello are divided into two main districts: Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola. Rione Monti can be considered as the tourist center of Alberobello with about 1,030 Trullo houses. This is a place where many tourists, restaurants, and souvenir shops gather. Going east of the main road of Indipendenza is Rione Aia Piccola with more than 400 trullo, where the indigenous people live.
A village more than 400 years old, Alberobello has many interesting places to visit such as Trullo Sovrano, the only two-story trullo house, or Casa D’Amore, a house associated with one of the important historical landmarks of the country. the old village, when Antonio Francesco D’Amore led a revolt against the Acquaviva family and led to the decline of feudalism in Alberobello. Not far from Trullo Sovrano is Cosmas and Damian Cathedral. The cathedral was built in the neoclassical style in the 18th century as a sacred place dedicated to the patron saints of Alberobello. Deep into the Rione Monti, you will arrive at the church of Sant’Antonio. Built in 1927, it is the only church built in the Trullo style.
Daniele told us that the beauty of Alberobello is not in the magnificent churches, the main streets, or the center of Rione Monti, but in the little unexpected turns. And so on, after going through the main attractions, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering aimlessly, watching the lazy cats, and enjoying the slow pace of life in Alberobello.
At night, we went back to Indipendenza Street, heading up to the Edicola Votiva Arco Nicchia temple to see a panoramic view of the old village sparkling with lights. Without much to do, we sat leaning against each other on a nice little chair in Monte Pertica, under the dimly lit street lights, in a rare romantic, quiet atmosphere and enjoying the best moments that we could ever have. life brings.
DON’T BOOK A RESTAURANT WHEN YOU COME TO ITALY
Like all parts of Italy, most of the restaurants in Alberobello are closed for a nap between 2 pm and 4 pm. One of the Puglia specialties that I would love to try is the Puccia. La Lira Focacceria is a small eatery located right on the intersection of Largo Martellotta and Monte San Marco, famous for its traditional pizza and puccia Focaccia sandwiches. Puccia is a sandwich made from pizza crust. The soft crust covering the cold cuts and fresh cheeses is melted in the oven, making for the perfect midday snack. La Lira’s owner is not only handsome, and funny but also very easygoing. He gave us a whole bag of cherries because of a joke from a customer who came to the shop 15 minutes before closing.
Not the same as when traveling to other European countries, coming to Italy, I usually don’t book a table in advance. In a country as diverse as Italy, I don’t want to limit my choices and sometimes let my emotions guide me. This time, inspiration took me to L’Aratro di Domenico Laera. The Italians lived slowly, the Puglia lived slower. Puglia people eat dinner at 8 o’clock, which is also when most restaurants begin to welcome customers. What surprised me most about dining in Puglia was the sheer magnitude of the entrees. The “appetizer” in Puglia is not much different from the Japanese omakase. When choosing a “full” appetizer, you won’t know exactly what you’ll eat. A full appetizer usually costs an average of 15-25 euros and will have 8-10 dishes, including cheeses, cold cuts, fresh vegetables or simply prepared depending on the style of the restaurant.
The Puglia people especially value the freshness of their ingredients. Therefore, they use very little flavoring and choose simple cooking methods to preserve the original flavor of the dish. They want seafood to have a taste of the sea, want meat to have a clear meat taste, not seasoned with many spices or sauces. So, one of the best ways to tell if a restaurant is good is to see if the ingredients are clearly sourced and if the dishes change seasonally to match local produce. While in Alberobello, don’t forget to try the signature grilled meats and sausages of the region. Compared to other old and famous restaurants, L’Aratro has more spacious space. A dinner for two with an appetizer and main course with wine costs about 80 Euros, which can be said to be high compared to the average in Puglia,
Early the next morning, Daniele greeted us with a breakfast full of freshly baked cakes in the small garden behind Terrazza Sui Trulli. Italians also love croissant (croissants) for breakfast, but Italian croissant is crunchier than French and often filled with pistachios or chocolate. One of my favorite things about breakfast in Puglia is that there is always fresh fruit. Daniele also enthusiastically offered us cake and cherry jam his mother made. We enjoyed breakfast in a warm and laughter-filled atmosphere, then said goodbye to dreamy Daniele and Alberobello, to continue our journey of discovering the Italian heel.
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