The first trulli showed up in the prehistoric age; they had already been present in settlement in the Itria Valley. Tholos, typical constructions used to bury the deceased, also began to spread over the same territory.
Still, the oldest trulli we know of today are at Alberobello, dating back to the 14th Century: it was during this period that what seemed but an uninhabited land was assigned to the ownership of the first Count of Conversano by Robert d’Anjou, Prince of Taranto and then King of Naples from 1309 to 1343. The tract of land was given as a reward to the young Anjou noble for his service during the Crusades. Soon after, the area was repopulated with entire feudal settlements, transferred from nearby (like that of Noci).
According to some research, however, rural settlements had already risen up around the year 1000, on both sides of a river that now runs underground. The habitations gradually grew into villages, later called Aja Piccola and Monti.
The trullo’s dry-wall construction, without mortar, was imposed on new settlers so that they could dismantle their shelters in a hurry: an efficient means to evade taxes on new settlements under the Kingdom of Naples, and certainly a good way to deter unruly lords. Yet most historians agree that this building technique came about due to the area’s geographical conditions, abundant with the limestone we now see in these constructions.
Around the middle part of the 16th Century, the community of Monti was already occupied by about 40 trulli, but it was only circa 1620 that Alberobello acquied the physiognomy of a settlement that was independent from neighboring Noci. It counted a population of 3,500 towards the end of the 18th Century. In 1797, the village obtained the title of "Royal City" from the King of Naples, Ferdinand IV de Bourbon. The city derived its name from the Latin phrase silva arboris belli, that is “wood of the tree of war.”
Not to Miss in Alberobello
Monti: A district consisting of 1, 030 trulli, including the ‘trulli siamesi’, characterized by a double facade, a double pinnacle, a low hearth, and no windows.
Aja Piccola: A borgo made up of a network if tiny streets and alleyways.
Trullo Sovrano: A unique trullo on two levels, today housing a museum. Address: Piazza Sacramento 10, 70011 Alberobello (BA)
Church of Sant’Antonio: In trullo form, and featuring a monumental entrance and a staircase overarched by a rose window. The church is in Greek cross plan, with lateral chapels and a bell tower, and a cloister vault roof. Address: Via Monte Pertica,70011 Alberobello (BA)
The House of Love: The first house constructed in lime, in 1797, today it is the office of tourism. Address: Via Monte Nero 3, 70011, Alberobello (BA)
Sanctuary of Holy Doctors: Dedicated to doctors and Saints Cosmas and Damian, it holds their relics and the painting The Madonna of Loreto