Trullo Sovrano

Trullo Sovrano means Supreme Trullo and its name is due to the fact that it is the biggest Trullo in Alberobello. It is the only trullo with a raised floor, and should be considered the greatest example of technique and style in this kind of construction.

The majestic conical dome, 14 meters high, stands imposingly in the middle of a group of twelve cones. It was built in the first half of the XVIII century on behalf of the wealthy family of a priest Cataldo Perta (1744-1809) and originally referred to the court of Pope Cataldo. The master builder – remained unknown – still respecting the old constraints imposed by the provisions of Count Gian Girolamo Acquaviva, adopted unique design solutions, that made this building the most advanced and admirable interpretation of a Trullo architecture.

It is possible to visit the Trullo Sovrano inside and it’s interesting to know that, during summer, theatre shows, concerts and other cultural events take place in the Trullo.

Trulli: a kind of primitive house

The word “Trullo” may come from Latin turris or trulla or from the Greek tholos, all meaning dome. It is said that probably, the first Trulli were built during primitive times and the traditional buildings have arrived up to our times. They have in common with the primitive dwellings the external form of a cylinder surmounted by a cone, but everything else is an original construction .

The Trulli are entirely built in stone: no mortar, or wood, or other means of support or connection are used for their construction. Primitive form and means, but there is nothing primitive in the technique used for their construction, with an excellent static, which allowed them to be preserved and arrive to us in perfect conditions.

The Trullo is built on the rock and it has a square base; the main room is the initial core of the dwelling and from here the other rooms can develop: to divide and isolate them there are no doors, but simple curtains. The chiancarelle are the flat stones, 7 cm thick used to cover the roof also used to pave all the rooms.

The walls are built with limestone found in the fields. Interior and exterior are then whitewashed with lime milk. The transition from the square perimeter, to the circle at the base of the dome is obtained by forming an octagon. The base of the dome is built so that the dome itself can be used as a storage, that can be reached thanks to wood staircase.

The roof of the Trullo ends with the pinnacle. It is commonly formed by three stones one above the other: one has a cylindrical shape, then there is a bowl-shaped or dish stone, and a sphere or other shapes on top. Its true meaning is still unclear, but several hypotheses have been put forward: some give them a magical meaning, for others they have only an ornamental function, according to the taste of the trullaro (Trullo builder). It is also said that the pinnacle, before becoming ornamental, was a hallmark, useful to the regnant and imposed by himself.

The mysterious white signs painted on the front of the cone of the Trulli are magical and propitiatory symbol. Some come from the pagan tradition, others from the Christian tradition, because in Alberobello used to live people from different origins. These symbols drawn on “chianca” have various meanings; the most common are: protection of the family from evil, propitiatory worship of a deity for a good harvest. Actually, the blonde lady, owner of the open house-Trullo, explained us that probably if on a roof there a cross was painted, it meant that inside there was a family, which supported the powerful Conversano family, ruler of Alberobello. This way, they could enjoy some privileges from Count Conversano.

Casa D’Amore: a UNESCO Heritage Monument

Located behind Piazza Ferdinando IV, this residence, which takes its name from his first owner Francesco D’Amore, sets one of the most important moments in the history of Alberobello. As a matter of fact, it represents the passage from the traditional Trullo to the palace. It was built soon after the liberation of Alberobello from the domination and bonds of the Conversano family, which ruled the whole area for more than 3 centuries. Casa D’Amore, thus represents the liberation from the feudal vassalage.

To mark this episode, for the first time the master mason built a brickwork residence, that is with the use of mortar rather than by dry masonry as the Counts imposed during the previous centuries. The use of mortar, allowed them to modify the traditional Trullo construction techniques and carry out a building on 2 floors. Moreover, as a further act of scorn towards the Conversano Counts, the palace was built right in front of his house.

The building consists of 2 separate blocks, placed against each other and developed on 2 floors: it is possible to enter the upper floor through an external staircase, but originally it must have probably been accessed from inside. On the façade there is a tablet with an epigraph, recalling the historic event of it construction (Ex autoritate regia hoc primum erectum A.D. 1797). On the roof, the typical chiancarelle have been maintained as a tradition.

Inside, on the ground floor, there is a large central room and other rooms like the kitchen with fireplace and the storage under the dome. On the first floor there are 3 conical rooms on different levels, one of which was connected to the ground floor.

The palace has been for a long time the city hall of Alberobello but, due to its beauty and historical importance, in 1930 it was declared National Monument and at present it is a UNESCO Heritage monument.