Our explorations in Monopoli are those of new residents. Our explorations through wider Puglia are purely those of tourists. Armed with suntan lotion, insect repellent, a good hat, walking shoes, bottle of water, GPS, and of course our cameras, every day or two we venture out. Another day, another charming village. We are fortunate that in Monopoli we are surrounded by several beautiful towns, all within an easy 30 minutes drive. We have yet to visit Martina Franca, but we were charmed by beautiful white Locorotondo, and enjoyed the views from Ostuni. We drive to these villages through the stone-walled olive plantations (groves might be traditional, but the word doesn’t adequately describe the sheer magnitude of the olive plantings down here), up onto the Murgia plateau and the Itria Valley to find these lovely white towns.
And on the way, just in this part of Puglia, we are treated to a peak at life as it might have been back in the 17th and 18th centuries. You see, this is trulli country. And to see trulli, you have to visit the town of Alberobello. Easy to get to, easy to find parking, good signposts to the “zona trulli,” Alberobello is a major tourist site. Because here you find a trulli community, with hundreds of trulli – the most dense concentration of these strange conical huts anywhere. These days of course, with UNESCO World Heritage site status, many of the trulli are souvenir shops, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants. And it is fascinating to walk the streets, looking at these odd constructions.
But the trulli aren’t limited to Alberobello. Drive anywhere in the Bari region, and you will find trulli scattered amongst olives and vines. Trulli form part of farmhouses, and are renovated for hotels, bed and breakfasts, and rental accommodation. Dilapidated trulli appear to be protected, left in natural states of disrepair in fields, under trees, overgrown with prickly pear cacti, or surrounded by vegetable plantings. They are most prevalent on the plateau, but they are in fact scattered over the entire province, right down to the coast. We enjoy all these sightings, spying a trullo when we least expect it, just as much as (or perhaps more than ) at the World Heritage site at Alberobello.