After our Saturday day spent in Matera, we made our way to Alberobello bright and early on Sunday morning.
Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it houses the world’s oldest known trulli, dating from the 14th century. These unique houses are made from limestone, using a prehistoric technique called drywall construction.
The drive from Matera was a little less than two hours, taking the back roads (called “statali”) rather than the highway. Along the way there I was thrilled to see field after field with stacked stone fences, most of which also contained a stone trullo.
In Alberobello we found parking just outside the trullo district of Monti, and paid an exorbitant fee for an hour of parking. Our stroll around the neighborhood to take pictures was enjoyable, but short, and we left the town before our parking meter ran out. Though Alberobello is certainly a unique and fascinating sight, it is also overtly commercial. While Matera was a lovely break from modern society, Alberobello bombarded us with junky tourist shops each hawking the same tired statues, magnets, and postcards.
We then made our way back north towards Castel del Monte. The drive was also full of rows upon rows of olive trees, the ground beneath them carpeted with thousands of beautiful yellow flowers. Along the sea and all the way to the castle, crumbling trulli dotted the fields we drove through, slowly losing their singular shapes and dissolving into mounds of stone.
We were astonished to see Castel del Monte perching on a hill from a distance of nearly 10 kilometers, majestic, as the mysterious castle is surrounded by no walls to distract from the beauty of its perfect form. Historians are unsure of how and if the castle was ever used after its construction.
The castle was commissioned by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The main body of the structure is an octagon, and it has eight octagonal towers. It is well recognized for the near perfection of its proportions, its use of Fibonnaci’s Golden Ratio, and it’s unique fusion of elements from classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient, and north European Cistercian Gothic.
Apart from the fascinating nature of the castle’s history, it is a spectacular site. Any fans of fantasy will be in awe of the structure, which looks like something that has been created based upon some sort of bizarre-o-world combination of Game of Thrones meets Jabba the Hutt’s palace.