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The Italian village rivalling New Zealand's hobbit holes

Easyvoyage logo Easyvoyage 22/12/2016 Mollie Reynolds

Alberobello: The town's trulli - characteristic white conical-roofed houses - would fit well in a Lord of the Rings film. The Italian village rivalling New Zealand's hobbit holes The heel to Italy's boot, Puglia shelters an array of beautiful towns and villages but none can compare to Alberobello. This small hobbit-like town was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of some 1,500 trulli - characteristic white conical-roofed houses that could easily pass as Frodo's new digs in a Lord of the Rings film.

Named after the primitive oak forest Arboris Belli (beautiful trees) that once covered the area, legend has it that a local lord moved his peasant workers here in the 14th century to cultivate the land. In order to evade laws and taxes imposed on urban settlements, he forced his workers to live in trulli - which could be dismantled in a hurry - to fool the authorities into thinking nobody lived there. It was only given 'town' status in 1797.

Although the trulli settlements were supposed to be temporary, Alberobello has stood the test of time and welcomes visitors by the busloads who come to browse trullo shops, sit in trullo bars and admire trullo homes.

Visiting the Trulli District

The centre of Alberobello houses few trulli, which contrast against the regular buildings where they do spring up. But on the western hill is the Zona dei Trulli - two areas that form a dense mass of little white pointy-topped dwellings clustered together.

The more touristy of the two trulli districts is Rione Monti, where more than 1,000 trulli cascade down the hillside. A walk along the narrow, sloping lanes will no doubt be accompanied by local vendors trying to entice you to buy their wares with all sorts of claims and promises. Here it is souvenir central, where inhabitants sell anything trullo-inspired, from miniature ceramic trulli and trullo snowglobes to trullo-shaped jewellery and moneyboxes.

Much less commercialised is the second trulli district, Rione Aia Piccola, characterised by little-inhabited quiet lanes. Most shops offer rooftops with spectacular panoramic views but the area's main attraction is the Trullo Sovrano (Sovereign Trullo). Built in the 18th century, it is the only two-storey trullo in Alberobello, with a furnished bedroom, kitchen and bakery that gives visitors an insight into trullo life.

Around Alberobello

If all that wandering around trulli leaves you wanting more, Alberobello still has a lot to offer. There are a handful of small museums to be explored and plenty of opportunities to buy kitsch souvenirs and taste local produce. Nearby, the Museum of Olive Oil and Museum of Wine can take visitors on a gastronomic adventure, whilst the Museum of Handicrafts displays the region's tradition in homemade products.

Alberobello is also home to a range of trattorias and cafes which offer al fresco dining to give visitors the ultimate experience of the region's gastronomy. The province of Bari produces world-class handmade pasta such as orecchiette, laganelle, lasagne, and strascinate as well as local bread varieties that include taralli, stuffed pizzas and buns.

For dessert, the town specialises in sumptuous pettole, rustic fritters of sweet dough, as well as vegan-friendly cartellate, a paste composed of flour, sugar, marsala, honey, cinnamon, and a little liquor at Christmas time. It also happens to be the home of world-renowned Italian favourite amaretti.

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