What do you do when you visit the Itria Vally? You stay in a trullo!
Welcome to the Itria Valley (Valle d’Itria)
You may know the Itria Valley as the home of the trullo, the conical-shaped houses that look like something out of a movie. The Itria Valley includes a number of well-known towns including Alberobello, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Ostuni and Cisternino.
What could we see in a day in the Itria Valley
I’ll be the first to admit that a single day was not ideal for visiting the region, but it also wasn’t a key part of the trip. I was more interested in visiting the coastal regions, with a short stopover the most time that could be allowed. This visit was part of our 10 days in Puglia.
We limited our sightseeing to the two towns of Locorotondo and Alberobello. While we passed by some of the other popular towns in the area, they would have to wait for another trip.
Driving from Otranto to Locorotondo
Our drive that morning started in Otranto, with a stopover at Torre dell’Orso for a swim before jumping on the freeway near Lecce. Starting northwest, we drove on the Autostrada past Brindisi, exiting at the turnoff for Ostuni. While we didn’t go into the town itself, seeing the ‘white town‘ perched up on top of the hill was quite the sight! After almost accidentally driving into its maze of streets, we continued north through the countryside. We knew we were getting close to our accommodation as trulli (cone shaped buildings) started popping up along the road side.
While Alberobello is known for its trulli, you’ll see the cone houses throughout the area. It made for some very scenic driving comparing all the different styles. Besides some confusing signage around Ostuni, driving in the area was pretty easy.
When in Itria Valley, one must stay in a trullo
I couldn’t stay in the area and not stay for a night in a trullo. Since we had the car, we stayed about 2km outside of Locorotondo at Residenza Di Nonna Giulia. The modern extension had two big bedrooms and a kitchen and dining area were within the trullo. The accommodation is self-contained, with the owner living a few minutes away.
It wasn’t easy to find as the numbering ‘system’ didn’t seem to have a ‘system’. But we eventually found it after a half hour of searching around the area (on foot and in the rain!). The host spoke no English, which made my Italian lessons come in handy. When we couldn’t figure each other out, she used google translate on her phone. Sometimes hand signals come in very handy 🙂
Visiting the whitewashed town of Locorotondo in the late afternoon and early evening meant pretty much everything was closed. On the plus side, the lack of open shops meant we had the side streets to ourselves. While not full of ‘must sees’, this compact town was a joy to wander around.
Before we could enjoy it, finding a place to park was a rather frustrating experience. I’d completely missed the large parking lot (Piazza Antonio Mitrano), but eventually found a parking spot on the street. I only found the spot after several loops of the town’s one-way streets. This included driving multiple times through what seemed to be a six-way intersection on a hill!
Once we entered the historic part of town, the parking adventure was well worth it. Many of the side streets were beautifully decorated with flowers and plants and made for a very pretty stroll. The next time I’m in Puglia, I will make sure to spend more time in the area and particularly Locorotondo (now that I know where to park!) 🙂
Our visit to Alberobello coincided with a very rainy and chilly morning. Fortunately, by the time we arrived the rain had mostly subsided. This worked out well, since the dreary morning seemed to delay the arrival of the tour buses until late morning. This meant there were no crowds during our visit, though enough people to provide a bit of atmosphere. Just another example of the benefit of travelling in the offseason!
Alberobello, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town has row after row of conical-shaped houses, many of which, at least in the touristy area you walk through first, now house gift shops. Though many of the stores sold similar trinkets, there was enough variety to keep us busy for almost two hours. This included a coffee stop needed to warm us up on the chilly day!.
I found the large-scale commercialisation and ‘zombie’ tourists walking off the oversized tour buses made the town feel a bit unauthentic. I have to mention we only wandered the area close to the parking lot, so the experience may have been different if we ventured further.
All in all, I’m glad I saw it but the quick stop is enough for me.
Next stop – Back to the sea in Polignano al Mare
We spent a night in Locorotondo in early October 2016 during a nine day trip to Puglia. Starting in Lecce, we visited Otranto and the Salento, the Trulli region including Alberobello and Locorotondo, the seaside Polignano a Mare, ending in Matera.