When is a tourist attraction not a tourist trap? When it’s a Trullo.

Sometimes a tourist attraction is not a trap. Sometimes you can take the seriously touristy and turn it into the kind of ‘once in a lifetime’ experience many of us yearn for when we go on holiday.

I’ve had my fair share of ‘once in a lifetime’. When I was younger, and not as concerned with little things like comfort or extending my life,  I trekked the Himalayas, sailed the Barrier Reef on a square rigger and almost froze to death to eat reindeer stew in a wooden hut  in the Swedish wilderness. I’m sure there’s still some adventure to come, but I’m really getting too lazy old for all that action business now. I can’t be climbing mountains  and washing out of a bucket for a week at my age. And I promised myself years ago I’d never again have to endure a ‘toilet tent’ (basically a hole in the ground with a teepee over it)  shared between a group of strangers suffering from ‘funny tummy’ and an inability to squat and aim. Call me a snob, but I want to be able to brag about doing something no-one else in the room has done without having to have forgone basic standards of human cleanliness. So maybe you’ll understand why this particular Puglian non-tourist-trap offering is slightly more… err.. sedate. I stayed in a Trullo.

“A what?”

Yes, I know. That’s exactly what I would have been asking a few months ago. A Trullo is a 19th century stone hut with a distinctive cone shaped roof, and you won’t see them anywhere else in the world except Puglia, predominantly in the north. It’s believed they were most popular in the 1800’s as a solution to the particularly high property taxes of the time. You see Trulli are built without mortar or cement, so they can be easily dismantled. Apparently people used them to avoid property tax by simply pulling them down whenever a tax inspector was known to be in the area. They look something like this…

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You only need to spend five minutes in Puglia to see a Trullo. You’ll see them in the towns, you’ll see them on postcards, look out your window whilst driving (through the Valle d’Itria region especially) and you’ll see them in the fields. They are everywhere, and as synonymous with Puglia as olive oil, Orecchiette  pasta and the Salento. So yes, they are a tourist attraction, especially in Alborobello (see pic below) which is like Trulli Disneyland, where you can see a whole town of traditional Trulli, and buy yourself every kind of Trulli-shaped souvenir known to man, if you so wish. But over the last ten years or so, more and more entrepreneurial folk have begun to restore abandoned Trulli and turn them into unique holiday rental accommodation.

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So once again, this is what an abandoned Trullo typically looks like…

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And here’s the pimped up version…

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This is La Dimora Di Genna, hidden away amongst farm land slightly north-east of Putingano. It’s surrounded by fields of olive and cherry trees and after a nerve wracking week of driving through Italy on the ‘wrong side’ of the road, the utter quiet and seclusion here tempted me to just stay put for the entire three days I was there. But then I got hungry. Not a problem though because a short drive takes you to any number of nearby towns, such as close-by Putingano and Alberobello, or Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Cisternono a little further out. Plus, the Adriatic sea is only a twenty minute drive away, thirty if you drive like me.

But really, why would you leave the Trullo? Inside, it has a quirky, cave-like feel and more artsy-crafty touches than you’d find at an annual gathering of the WI (Womens’ Institute – it’s a British thing). Personally this type of decoration is not to my taste, but I’m sure a lot of people find it quaint.

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There’s an upstairs bedroom (not really suitable for those with mobility issues or the very young).

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the upstairs bed…

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But it’s the stunning outside space where I’m sure you’ll spend most of your time. Did I mention there’s a pool?

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And an outside kitchen with full gas facilities, a barbecue, fridge and a second toilet, shower and laundry at the rear of it.

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There’s an outdoor dining area big enough to invite a group round for dinner and a dip…

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An outdoor lounge area…

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Which you can use to get all al-fresco romantic-schmorantic with the lighting once the sun goes down…

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The outside space at La Dimora di Genna is amazing, but inside’s no slouch either. It may be small, but there’s every mod-con you’d ever need or want squeezed into it. There’s a TV, wi-fi, stereo with ipod connection (it even hooks up to outside speakers so you can listen to music by the pool), a gas stove, electric grill and enough crockery and serving dishes to whip up a feast or two with all the delicious morsels you’re sure to have bought whilst exploring the region. You even get a complimentary bottle of red to get the party started…

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I enjoyed my time there so much. I’d had a pretty hectic (and stressful at times) few days in the Salento region, so La Dimora di Genna was the perfect location to put the breaks on and relax. Lazing by the pool, salivating my way through the mountains of food and drink I’d bought from nearby towns and being woken up to the sounds of nature instead of the city for a few days was blissful.

Tempted? Of course you are. For bookings, you can contact the agent, Anna, directly at Trulli & Dimore or you can see what others have said about it on Trip Advisor here. Prices are around £850 a week off season, but then of course go up for summer. That may not sound cheap at first, but split between four people it’s an absolute bargain.

So there you go; one way Puglia can help you turn a potential tourist trap into a unique, once in a lifetime travel experience. And  another way to be the annoying show off when friends ask you about your holiday, without having to have risked your life or your immune system.

Just to be totally transparent, I must admit I’m a lucky duck and stayed at La Dimora di Genna as a guest of Anna and the ever helpful Caroline Edwards. But I’m sure you can see from the pictures the Trullo is every bit as good as I described.

For those of you interested in architecture, or even those just interested in knowing more about Trulli, here’s some pictures of the abandoned Trullo we checked out in a nearby field (double click on them to see a bigger version) Enjoy.

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Inside the cone…

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2 comments

  1. Gutted to say I didn’t see a trullo in my week in Puglia in May. We got around by train, but didn’t see any from the train window or on our trip to Ostuni. We really wanted to see Alberobello, but didn’t have a car and it’s not the easiest place to get to without one. Next time…

  2. Hey, don’t make a liar out of me now lol. Well, I guess I did say you had to be in northern Puglia to see them 🙂 You didn’t miss much with Alberobello. Sooooo touristy. But I guess you gotta tick it off the list. And yes, a car is a must in Puglia, but for someone like me who hadn’t driven in a few years and is used to the other side of the road and unused to Italian city driving, it was a bit white-knuckled at times. By the end of the week I was a pro though. Yes, next time for you.

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