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Trullo, Cisternino, Italy

A trullo (greek τρούλος, dome) is a traditional building in South Italy, region of Apulia. The oldest trulli (plural form of the word “trullo”) were built in XVI century in the region of Murge plateau. The history of trulli is connected with the economic and political complicated situation in the region in XVII century. At that time the tax for building a dwelling-house was quite hard and was connected with lots of problems. As a result the local count ordered to create a type of buildings that could be easily destroyed. A trullo is built from limestone without using any mortars. This gave an opportunity to take out the foundation stone and as a result when the officer came he saw only stones instead of houses.

A trullo is a typical rural building, and as already mentioned above, no mortars were used in the construction. However, this makes practically impossible to have big windows in the house. Besides, big gaps remained between the bricks, which made it uncomfortable to stay in the trullo during rain. That’s why there was another dome beyond the main (outer) one, and the space between those 2 was filled with limestone. Traditionally each room in a trullo had its own dome above. Initially a trullo represented only the dome part, the walls appeared later.

Inside a trullo is a cozy country house, where one can spend summer time. But for me, it’s not a good idea to live here all year long. The lavatory is in the yard, the only lighting source is a small window. However, middle age Italians found the solution to this problem: they put a big mirror on the wall to reflect the light. The lack of space was compensated with wall niches, where either a child slept or closets were organized.

Nowadays there are Italians living in trulli. However, this is rather an exception than a rule, as for contemporary people conditions there are too severe. Generally the owners of trulli start a profitable business by organizing excursions for tourists.

By Sona Gasparian,

Photos: By Sona Gasparian