Looking out across the conical roofs jutting out from the landscape of Alberobello, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve slipped into a forgotten JRR Tolkien novel – these slouched limestone dwellings capped with grey conical roofs seem to be lifted from the pages of fantasy. Yes, if Frodo Baggins, a few elves and a smattering of Smurfs got together to create the perfect village for a pied à terre in southern Italy, Alberobello would be it.
In fact, the residents of Alberobello, in the Province of Bari, have been constructing these unique dwellings – known as trulli – since the 14th century. The site has earned UNESCO World Heritage status for its construction style, which derives from surviving prehistoric techniques still functioning in the modern world.
More than 1,000 trulli speckle the narrow lanes weaving down the hillside in this southern Puglia region. Many are still inhabited by locals (Italians, not Hobbits); others are used as restaurants, miniature wine bars, and souvenir stores selling terracotta whistles, ceramics and silver jewellery.
Friendly locals will invite you in to have a look around, sample some wine and take in the panorama from the terrace. The roofs of the trulli are painted with large pagan or magical symbols, and the endless white spires rising from the peak of the cone make for a spectacular sight.