Friday, July 13, 2012

Lord of the Rings in Alberobello

Trulli strung along via Monte Pertica in Alber...
Trulli strung along via Monte Pertica in Alberobello, province of Bari, Italy. The whitewashed symbols were added following the restoration of the stone roofs in the 1980s and 1990s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We were convinced by the people at the tourism office that we needed to get out of town. One place of particular interest was a town called Alberobello. The train ride from Bari was a mere hour and 10 minutes, so it was an easy jaunt.

This should have been the setting for The Hobbit. The houses here are perfect for hobbit homes. The town is called Alberobello, but a group of the homes here are called trulli homes. A trulli home is a circular stone building approximately 5 meters in diameter, though some are larger.

The conical roof is comprised of flat stones that are corbelled forming the cone dome at the top, which is then painted white to set if off from the grey stone, and then ornamented with a symbolic ornamental spire. The ones we noticed were either roosters or what looked to be soldiers.

The walls are built by the setting of blocks of stone one on top of the other without mortar (dry stone building). The "chianche" forming the cupola were fixed with a special technique, creating a balance that didn't need concrete or any adhesive that could be used. A thermos effect is created by the structure and materials; supposedly keeping the temperatures cool in the summer and warm in the winter even without needing alternative means of heating other than that used for cooking. Windows are minimal if they exist at all. It resembles what one would think living in an igloo may be like.

Regardless of their claims, the trullis that we toured were damn hot and one had an air conditioner going full blast. There are trulli bed and breakfasts, but I think the novelty of staying in one would last about four hours if that, before I would go in search of something more reasonable. Anyone our height or even close would have to stoop all of the time. They are made for people under 5'8" maximum.

Interesting? Definitely! Worth seeing? Definitely! Would I want to stay in one? Never. The streets that are lined with these houses are primarily souvenir shops whose merchants are begging you to come in to browse. Like so many other touristy areas, when you have twenty stores in a row all selling the exact same merchandise, there is bound to be a glut on the market.

So what else is there to do here? Not much at all. It is Friday and most of the stores are closed, but even after 4pm, they still seem to remain closed.

We did come across a parade after visiting the church. It turned out to be a funeral procession. It seems all who attend the funeral gather at the deceased person's home and they march to the church from there.

Funerals are announced on billboards and then signs like these are placed at the address. Quite different and interesting. 

When we returned to Bari, we ate dinner at El Pedro, a self-service restaurant that is dirt cheap. The food is good, but not very hot. It is filled with locals. Again if there were no language barrier, we found out we could have ordered 'off the menu' as it were. 

Today's photos are here.
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