Trulli in Apulia 


History of trulli          Restoration of an Apulian trullo

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History

 Trulli are stone houses which for time immemorial have been built in the heart of Apulia. The name trullo (pl. trulli) comes from ancient Greek "tholos", which denotes a building with a conic roof. 

A Mycenean tholos tomb near Pylos

Trulli are most common in the Messapian areas of Apulia. The Messapians, together with the Veneti, Japigians, Daunians, and Latin belonged to the first Indo-European wave of colonization of the Italian peninsula, which until then (circa 1200 B.C.) was mostly inhabited by Thyrrenians.

A reconstrution of a Messapian hut, in dry stone masonry, with clay plaster and a thatched roof (pagghiare)

Trulli were ideal structures in the Apulian landscape, because they could be entirely built with the abundant local stone and manual labor.

A trullo with furno roof

An abandoned trullo with a single round room and furno roof. The concentric platforms were originally plastered, or insulated from water with rammed earth or turf.


A typical Apulian trullo

The trullo above, with square rooms, multiple conic roofs, and a water collection system was probably built in the first half of the 19th century, to serve as an independent farmhouse. The chimney was probably added later: until the second half of the 19th century in most trulli the smoke from the fireplace would simply percolate through the slabs of the small conic roof above, which was left intentionally unplastered. The large platform surrounding the roof, besides offering great structural stability and thermal insulation, typically also collects rainwater and channels it to an underground cistern. Trulli, if properly cared for, easily last for centuries.

 

Next - Construction techniques