No other town in Puglia quite compares to Alberobello. This once hidden gem of Italy is now world famous for its trulli houses – whitewashed dry stone huts with cone-shaped roofs that are often adorned with religious symbols. The trulli of Alberobello were constructed out of the limestone boulders found in the neighboring fields and collectively boast a unique character, earning the dwellings many accolades such as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The trulli architectural style dates all the way back to the 14th century and is steeped in fascinating legends. The story goes that the houses were built in this specific fashion in order to evade property taxes. The Kingdom of Naples, which Alberobello was ruled under at the time, attempted to place a tax on every new urban construction in its jurisdiction. But there was one caveat: the land had to be permanently inhabited/settled. To doge this tax, the locals of the area devised a clever plan to make the properties seem temporary and easily taken down. In the end, they avoided the taxes and created a legacy!
Although there are many different trulli scattered throughout the rural Itria Valley, the highest concentration and best preserved ones are situated in Alberobello itself. Most of the town’s 1,600 trulli buildings are packed into the streets of the Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola districts. Beyond tax evasion, they have stood the test of time because of their ingenious designs around temperature control and rainwater collection. They keep the residents cool on hot summer days and come equipped with cisterns where the water is stored.
Today, Alberobello’s trulli houses are a major tourist attraction and it’s easy to see why. Many of the trulli have been converted into boutique shops and little restaurants, and wandering down the narrow alleys and lanes where they are located is simply a joy. To gain a better understanding of the town’s history, travelers can book the Alberobello Walking Tour with us here at Apulia Private Tours. This wonderful one and a half hour experience takes guests on a leisurely stroll through the heart of the trulli zones, learning the key facts and local secrets that make these unusual dwellings so magical along the way.
After seeing all the trulli hotspots – including the Trullo Sovrano and Church of Saint Anthony of Padua – you might be wondering if there are any other fun and interesting ways to spend your time in Alberobello. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes! Below we dive into the most unique things to do in and around Alberobello apart from the trulli. From tasting the traditional cuisine to taking epic hikes, there is far more to this Apulian town than meets the eye.
The food in Alberobello, and Puglia as a whole, champions the “cucina povera” style of Italian cooking. Fresh produce is sourced from the region and dishes frequently center around the basic ingredients of tomatoes, turnips, fava beans, chicory, fish and meat. Some must-eats are: orecchiette braciole alla barese (Apulian pasta with beef rolls stuffed with cheese, garlic and parsley cooked in tomato sauce), fave e cicoria (fava bean puree with chicory) and panzerotti (a savory turnover filled with mozzarella, olives and tomato sauce).
To sample the typical gastronomy of Alberobello visitors can head to a variety of fantastic restaurants such as Ristorante La Cantina, Trattoria “Terra Madre”, Ristorante Casa Nova, Ristorante “La Nicchia”, EVO Ristorante, Ristorante Il Pinnacolo and many more. A couple of these locally-loved establishments are even situated in beautiful old trulli – making the foodie experience that much more enchanting. From affordable rustic fare to extravagant fine dining, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy at the restaurants of Alberobello!
There are no shopping malls or multinational brands in Alberobello (thank god). Instead, you will find an array of family-run boutiques, souvenir stores and artisan workshops. The best shopping strategy in this small town is to go exploring without a plan and see what you discover. If tacky souvenirs don’t tickle your fancy, you can always hit up the olive oil and wine shops – which make for brilliant gifts for your friends and family back home. Both of these products are made by utilizing traditional methods that date back centuries.
Market day in Alberobello occurs every Thursday from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm on Via Barsento Street, and is a great place to shop for fruit and vegetables that are organically grown in the surrounding farms. Other food-related items can also be purchased at the weekly market, for example: cheese, honey, jams, pasta, sauces and liqueurs. Then there are the clothing, shoes and accessories shops that sell premium goods like designer jackets and shoes, leather purses and wallets, and handmade bracelets and necklaces. Last but not least, we can’t fail to mention the colorful ceramics and pottery that is crafted here!
Alberobello is an ideal base to jump on a bike and ride through the gorgeous country lanes of the Itria Valley. For those who don’t know, the Valle d’Itria is a fertile green plain nestled in the middle of Puglia characterized by charming villages, picturesque olive groves, world-class wineries and intriguing trulli that dot the countryside. Traveling by bicycle is a phenomenal way to soak up the stunning scenery and viewpoints which define this part of Southern Italy.
There are many possible routes that one could take, like venturing to the nearby baroque town of Martina Franca for the day, but ultimately where you go depends on your personal preferences. To get help planning your perfect Itria Valley cycling trip, feel free to contact us here at Apulia Private Tours as we are experts in Puglia cycling tours. Food and wine tastings, or local product laboratories, can also be incorporated into our cycling tours from Alberobello – making for a multifaceted adventure that every traveler will love!
Just a stone’s throw away from Alberobello lies several special wineries and vineyards where you can sample iconic Valle d’Itria wines. Visiting the vines is one of the best things to do in Alberobello, especially for couples. The wineries offer guided tours of their properties followed by tastings and the chance to buy bottles. White wine is prominent in the Itria Valley due to the white grape varieties that flourish here. The calcareous clay/red soil in the valley lends itself to the white grape variety, helping the grapes form nice aromas and acidity.
No matter which winery you choose to visit, you will be able to walk along the rows of vines covered in sunshine and learn about the rarest grape varieties that stem from the Puglia region such as Bianco d’Alessano, Francavidda, Impigno and Verdeca. A few winery suggestions close to Alberobello are Cantina Masseria Torricella and I Pastini Srl. Whether you drive to the wineries in your own rental or would like to be guided on a Puglia wine tasting tour with us at Apulia Private Tours, the vino in this part of Italy will delight you!
The Alberobello to Locorotondo Hike is one of our most cherished adventures here at Apulia Private Tours for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it takes you hiking across the extraordinary landscapes of the Valle d’Itria, and secondly it gives you the opportunity to spend an afternoon in the top hidden gem of Puglia. Locorotondo isn’t widely known by travelers but its authenticity makes it unlike any other village. The historic center offers a maze of white-washed houses, shops, churches and alleys where you could happily get lost for hours, and the cummerse-style architecture creates a distinct attraction to the trulli.
The village is perched on top of a hill overlooking the valley, so once you have explored the seductive streets and the sun begins to set you can walk to a lookout point to witness a colorful sundowner. The great thing about this hiking trip is that you are only required to walk there because a train can carry you back to Alberobello on a 15-minute journey. In total, the distance covered by foot is 12 kilometers and normally takes around three and a half hours. The highlight of the hike is heading through the nature preserve, Canale di Pirro!
Matera is situated approximately an hour away by car from Alberobello but don’t let the distance put you off. This European Capital of Culture for 2019 has been on the radar of travelers for a while now, celebrated for its ancient cave dwellings and well-preserved cobblestone paths. There is a lot to see and do here, and a full day gives you the time to tick everything off your bucket-list. This may include seeing the Palombaro lungo underground cistern and Matera Cathedral, among other sites. Staying for sunset is another must-do!
The public transport options (buses and trains) between these two towns are fairly limited, therefore it’s best to organize a car rental or private transfer for the day. The transfer can easily be arranged with us here at Apulia Private Tours and we can even throw in a two to three hour tour once you arrive. Saying you have visited the third-longest continuously inhabited human settlement in the world will be just one of the highlights of your Matera trip!
As you drive 20-30 minutes toward the towns of Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, the landscape changes to a rocky coastline dotted with the occasional beach cove paradise. Having a beach day in this area on a hot summer’s day might just be the respite you need when the Itria Valley becomes sweltering and suffocating. If you have your own vehicle then you will be able to check out two, three, four, five or more beaches throughout the duration of the day.
Some of the most beautiful and unique stretches of sand include: Cala Porta Vecchia (Monopoli), Cala Verde (Monopoli), Grotta della Cala Tre Buchi (Monopoli), Cala Incine (Polignano a Mare), Cala Sala (Portacola) Beach (Polignano a Mare), Lama Monachile (Polignano a Mare) and San Vito Beach (San Vito). Bring your swimwear, plenty of sunscreen, perhaps a snack or two, and stop for lunch somewhere nice on the coast. It will be a day to remember!