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Virtual travel - Italy, Alberobello - Trulli houses



Trulli houses are a remarkable example of drywall (mortarless) construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region. The trulli are made of roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields. Characteristically, they feature pyramidal, domed or conical roofs built up of corbelled limestone slabs.

But, how did these unique buildings come to be in Puglia? Well, as with many pivotal moments in history, it’s all to do with tax and money.

In the 1500's, the Acquaviva family, the local rulers within the feudal system, wanted to avoid paying property taxes to the King. They ordered local peasants to build their houses and dwellings without mortar so that, in the event of a royal inspection, the structures could quickly and easily be taken down, and the tax bill would remain low. Using local limestone and some ingenious building techniques, the local population created the trulli, many of which remain standing today (a double achievement given their purpose was to be easy to dismantle!).

So far, so good - for the ruling family that is. You can imagine how Puglian peasants, who had to tear their house down when ever an inspection was on the horizon, were less happy with the situation. Fast forward to the 1700s and, after several petitions from discontented citizens about the ongoing treatment and rule by the Acquaviva family, the King granted their wish to become a ‘royal’ town, and therefore free from the whims (and tax-dodging preferences) of their feudal lords.

After this decree, unsurprisingly, there was less reason for trulli to be built. However, they stand today as a testament to the lengths the powerful will go to keep their wealth, and the perseverance and resourcefulness of the powerless to make the best of their situation.



Learn more about the remarkable construction of Trulli houses.