Monday, January 25, 2010

Land of the Trulli

The Italy and Greece Discovery Student Adventure explores some of the most famous locations in the world — the Acropolis in Athens, the Colosseum in Rome, the Vatican — however, some of the lesser known sites may prove to be travelers’ favorites, such as Alberobello in Italy…

Even if this didn’t happen to be one of the most charming villages I have ever seen, and it is, it would be on my list of all-time favorite places simply because it is incredibly fun to say — Alberobello, land of the trulli! Alberobello is on Italy’s east coast, and exploring its crooked streets dotted with trulli (dome-topped stone houses) makes a great way to stretch your legs on the DSA Italy & Greece trip after the overnight ferry from Patras, Greece. The trulli are simply so unique with their whitewashed walls, conical roofs, and symbolic caps (pinnacles) that you can’t help but feel transported to some kind of storybook land — I was enthralled. Many have additional symbols painted onto the curved roofs.

After asking locals and reading a book about trulli (a lucky gift from a local contact), I learned the symbols can be apotropaic (guarding against evil) and protective in function, and vary from very primitive symbols of vines and wheat, to religious symbology with representations of Jesus, Mary, or the Holy Trinity.

Those eight-foot freehand sketches in lime are the Italian equivalent to my grandfather’s horseshoe nailed over the barn door — a good luck charm when your livelihood depends on too many factors out of your control, as farmers’ work has over countless ages.

Here’s a great site for more information on the history of Alberobello, including the reason for such unique construction techniques, on the website listing Italy’s World Heritage sites:

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