Benvenuti in Puglia - welcome to Puglia
These days most Alberobello guides advise visitors to arrive before 9am ahead of the organised bus tours, or to wait until the evening once the crowds have gone. The Puglia forum on Tripadvisor still has a few diehard fans who speak of a “magical” experience to be had (though they acknowledge trying to manage your visit to avoid the crowds).
Whilst their enthusiasm is to be appreciated it overlooks that trulli are peculiar but not unique to Alberobello. Wonderful examples of beautifully restored trulli can be found all over the Valle d'Itria, often in more authentic settings.
Unprepared for the crowds and the commercialisation of Alberobello many visitors leave feeling underwhelmed - and sometimes even unimpressed. The authenticity and charm of a long gone way of life has all but evaporated.
Yet no trip to Puglia would be complete without visiting Alberobello.
If you manage your expectations and forget the promise of a “magical” experience you can avoid being disappointed. You don't even need to plan your trip around the busy crowds. No matter when you visit, if you know where to look you can still find a small part of the Alberobello that so inspired Italian film director and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini...
Most trulli are souvenir shops. If you are desperate to add a trullo to your snow globe collection, you have come to the right place.
Think of Puglia and you will probably picture Alberobello's trulli - as iconic as Polignano a Mare's Lama Monachile - and just as likely to grace the cover of the latest edition of The Lonely Planet Guide to Puglia.
Although they feature across the Itria Valley, it is the concentration of trulli found in Alberobello that makes it unique. The majority are found in two separate districts (“*rione*”): the rione Monti meanders up and around Via Monte San Michele, San Gabriele and San Marco; on the other side of Largo Martellotta around Via Giuseppe Verdi is the calmer rione Aia Piccola.
Despite the now commonplace advice to arrive early to avoid the organised tour groups as Alberobello fills up by the bus load, to some extent trying to avoid negotiating the crowds is impossible - even by arriving early in the morning as more people take that advice on board. Besides the crowds are now part of the Alberobello experience.
Arrive when best suits you. Mid-morning or late afternoon - after 5pm - works for us. Our suggestion if you have your own transport is that you need no more than 2 hours, excluding lunch or dinner, to soak up all that is Alberobello.
The over commercial main trulli district should not be ignored. Just remember although it is the heart of the trulli zone, it is no longer the soul. No need to amble - save that for later. Walk up Monte S. Michele, grab a coffee and delicious pastry at Martinucci Laboratory, via Monte S. Michele, 57. Cross over to Monte S. Gabriele and then onto Monte S. Marco.
Job done. You have seen what most visitors come to Alberobello to see.
Now cross over the Largo Martellotta and head up the steps towards Piazza XXVII Maggio and the rione Aia Piccola. The Aia Piccola district is less crowded, its restored trulli - mostly B&B accommodation - with characteristic original stonework intact. If you dig a little deeper you can discover a secret, hidden space offering a more intimate, close-up experience of Alberobello's heritage.
From Piazza XXVII Maggio head to Via Giuseppe Verdi and enjoy wandering around. If you have time take via Verdi all the way to via Colombo where you will see the splendid Villa Tria. Be sure to walk down Via Galileo Galilei and onto Vico il Duca degli Abruzzi. Keep going to discover some unrestored trulli in their original setting with some wonderful views through the pine trees over the white washed cone topped trulli of the rione Monti. In that instant you will find the Alberobello that inspired Pasolini.
See where the gladiators trained with this in depth private tour. Explore, with an accredited guide, the Colosseum. In addition, this tour includes an in depth visit of the Roman Forum and of Palatine Hill. See where ancient Roman daily life occurred as well as where gladiators battled for their life.