With Thanksgiving and all of its glorious food right around the corner (and now I’m drooling), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what it is I’m thankful for this year. Granted that I should be thinking about what I’m thankful for on a daily basis, I’m thankful (see what I did there?!) for this chance to whip my too-busy-to-be-grateful butt into gear. I should take a page out of my best friend’s book: she writes down three things every day that she is grateful for, and it has made her a much more fulfilled person.
So, beyond saying that I’m over the moon my first attempt at baking bread from scratch is currently in the oven and seems to be edible, I’ve decided that I need to make a concerted effort to appreciate all of the wonderful things about my life. One such thing is all of the opportunities I’ve had to travel. I’m not a “I’ve been to 39 countries and jumped out of a plane in each one” kind of girl, but I’ve been to places both big and small, some popular destinations, others hidden; but what they all have in common is that I’ve immensely enjoyed each of them for different reasons.
With that, I am starting a new series: Travel A to Z. Each week I will share with you a place (city, hotel, museum, bar) that I love in hopes that you, too, can find joy in them!
My Italian and I, along with our Swedish friend Josefin, happened upon Alberobello late last summer while we were in Puglia for a wedding. Alberobello, literally beautiful tree, is known for its iconic trulli, houses traditionally made of dry-stone masonry (typically limestone) lacking any kind of cement or mortar. The first settlers of this area (approximately 14th century) were thought to have built homes in this manner in order to easily dismantle and move, were they to be found out by lawless lords looking for tithes (though it would be remiss to omit that the geographic makeup of the area is heavy in limestone).
One of the most noticeable, not to mention memorable, things about the trulli in Alberobello are the painted symbols that adorn the roofs in stark white. These symbols typically fall within three categories: primitive, christian, and magic. The primitive symbols are what is left from ancient sects thought to be heavily influenced by nature, the christian symbols are familiar signs such as the cross and Mary’s heart pierced with an arrow, and the magic symbols have more to do with astrology than with levitating or pulling a bunny out of a hat.
If you are visiting the Puglia region, Alberobello is an easy day trip, or even, quite honestly, a half-day trip, from Taranto, Bari and Brindisi. Beyond walking through the trulli and staring in awe at these unique and almost other-worldly looking buildings, do yourself a favor and visit one of the many artisan shops. Whether it is pottery, embroidering, or small tourist keepsakes, the majority of the modest town makes its living catering to tourists. The trulli are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, so though kind of off-the-beaten-path, they do see their fair share of visitors.
One of the things I found most interesting in the small town was the Church of Saint Anthony ( Chiesa di Sant’Antonio), which can be reached easily on foot by walking uphill on the main street Via Monte Michele. Though built in the 20th century (with traditional masonry), this church was adorned with trulli spires. Inside, the stark contrast of the white-washed walls to the fresco and crucifix makes for a stunning burst of color.
Though it may seem that there is little to do in Alberobello besides visiting the trulli, don’t hesitate to stop for an hour or two if you are nearby. It really is worth it!
Travel smart tip: there a couple of small café’s that offer a roof-top view of the small town. It is usually advertised on signs hanging on the door or inside, but make sure to buy a small something beforehand. Also, be sure to check out the Alberobello Light Festival, a super unique and awe-inspiring art installation. This past summer they honored Van Gogh’s Starry Night by projecting images from the painting on the trulli. What a cool way to experience Alberobello!
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