The trulli or casedde of Alberobello, province of Bari, Italy,
through old postcards and photos

Christian Lassure

version française


Monte Pertica street is in the Monti district ("the district of the Mounts"), a hill in the southern part of Alberobello. The street leads through Piazza d'Annunzio into via San Michele, forming an arc of circle from San Antonio de Padova church in the west to the Largo Martellotta market place in the north.


Map of the southern part of the town of Alberobello with its two trullo zones, the Monti district on the left, and the Aia Piccola district on the right.



Black and white postcard of the mid 1950s (a coloured version also exists). Publisher: Mostra dei Trulli. Photo by Fanizzi Bernardino.

In this black and white photograph of the mid-nineteen fifties, a row of several trullo houses with same-size conical roofs can be seen as a continuation of the modern wall on the left. Beyond the small recess formed by a crosswise street, a second row of houses extends further down. Via Monte Pertica is a narrow street with a dry stone wall lining a number of small front gardens on the side opposite the trullo houses. A traditional horse-driven cart and a vespa, the popular two-wheeler of the time, are seen side by side halfway along the street. No whitewashed symbol is visible across the front of the trullo roofs.



Black and white postcard of the 1950s.

The same row of houses as seen from the top of a building on the opposite side of the street. There are as many as six trullo cones, all of identical size except the smaller one furthest to the right. Each apex is different, though. From left to right, there are:
1 - an apex rendered with mortar;
2 - a pinnacle consisting of a circular slab topped with a ball;
3 - a pinnacle consisting of an upturned cone topped with a ball;
4 - a pinnacle consisting of a mere circular slab;
5 - a pinnacle identical to the previous one, but whitewashed;
6 - an apex rendered with mortar, complete with whitewash.

The structure of the dry stone wall across from the row of trullo houses comes out plainly: battered facings, a coping of large slabs set on edge (hence the serrated shadow visible in the previous postcard).



Black and white postcard of the 1950s. Publisher : Ditta Cav. Giuseppe Lo Buono / Via Roberto da Bari 6 - Bari. Foto Mastrorilli - Bari.

In this third postcard of the 1950s, Monte Pertica street is seen from its eastern end. In the background, to the left, stand the façade and trullo cones of the church of Saint Anthony, built in 1926. Facing the western end of the street, on Cadore street, can be seen a house topped with two trullo cones, of contemporary date with the church. A whitewashed symbol is apparent on the fourth cone (from the left) of the row of trulli. There is some animation in the street: residents are sitting on chairs outside their houses, having a chat or going about some household chore, a familiar sight in the car-less streets of the time.



Black and white postcard of the 1950s-1960s.

This view of Monte Pertica street was shot from the roofs of the church of Saint Anthony. The high angle brings into view the square buildings of the town's more modern parts. Across the front of the third cone (from the left of the row of houses), a whitewashed symbol reminiscent of a bough has been painted. The roadway has been widened, resulting in the dry stone wall visible in the preceding postcards being replaced by mortared stonework. Sticking out obliquely from the façade of trullo N. 1 (at the west end of the row), is a forked perch used for supporting a clothes line. Beyond the east end of the row, at the inception of Piazza d'Annunzio, stands a trullo house whose walls have been raised to make it look like a modern house.



Colour postcard of the 1960s. Publisher: Cav. G. Lobuono - Bari.

With this colour postcard, we move on to the 1960s. The picture is taken from the East and from a high angle. The street surface has been widened and fitted with a pavement on its left-hand side. The wall alongside the garden plots has been moved back and rebuilt to modern standards. The five high cones and the small one are easily recognizable. The bough-like symbol  whitewashed across the front of the third cone is still visible as well as a cross splashed across the front of the smaller cone.

Curiously, the dry laid wall bordering the oblique street in the left corner of the picture is equipped with a stone stile: the coping of slabs set on edge gives way to an interval of slabs laid flat above a flight of three steps projecting from the wall face and reached via two big stone blocks acting as stepping stones.



Colour postcard posted 1966.

Another 1960s colour postcard of the same row of houses, seen from the roof of a trullo house on the opposite side of the street. The various doorways fall into three morphological types: the first four on the left are spanned by a semi-circular arch underneath a triangular pediment, the fifth is spanned by a mere lintel, the 6th and 7th are spanned by a lintel underneath a triangular pediment. The house at the extreme right is a multi-cell composite structure and the only one with a chimney stack at the front. The people outside are locals, unaware that they are being photographed. What appears to be the front of a small Fiat can be seen close to the lamp post on the right, an indication that the personal car is becoming popular.

The left-hand cone in the foreground reveals the method with which roof stone tiles were laid in older trullo roofs, i.e. with a slight outward slant and an exposed part that diminishes as the slope increases.



Colour postcard of the 1970s.

A decade later, in the 1970s, the scene has changed: judging from the stall outside two of the houses, Tourism has made its debut. The roof of the house at the extreme left end of the row has been rebuilt by local craftsmen, gaining in the process both a rectilinear profile and a brand new carved pinnacle. The symbol painted on cone N. 3 has faded away while another – a cross apparently – has popped up on cone N. 5.



Colour postcard of the 1980s-90s.

This postcard of the 1980s-90s shows that trullo cones N. 3, 4 and 5 have been completely rebuilt while trullo cone N. 1 has weathered to a grey shade. The intervention of local roof repairers has resulted in all three refurbished roofs gaining a perfectly linear profile. In the process, they have been graced with the same slender pinnacle and adorned with painted symbols that did not exist before. To add insult to injury, a fourth symbol has been painted on cone N. 2. The doorway underneath cone N. 5 has been favoured with the pediment it was lacking. The chimney stack between entrance N. 6 and entrance N. 7 has vanished. As a final touch, lanterns have been mounted over doorways N. 2, 3 and 4.

Two tourists, a man and woman, happen to be strolling past a gift shop. A car is parked where via Monte Pertica merges into Piazza d'Annunzio.



Colour postcard of the 1990s. Publisher: DELADUS.

Judging from this 1990s colour postcard, the conversion of the row of trullo houses to Tourism is well on its way. Although the roofs show no visible change as compared with the previous document – cone N. 2 still retains its original curvilinear profile –, souvenir shops have opened also in the first two houses: showcases and shelves have been fixed to the front walls, another two lanterns embellish the front of the first house. To alleviate the overly mineral appearance of the row of trulli, plant tubs have been installed outside. At the same time, cone N. 1 has been graced with the whitewashed symbol it had been lacking so far.



Colour postcard of the 2000s.

This final postcard ushers in the 2000s. The touristic conversion of the row of trulli is now complete: all six cones have been rebuilt to the same standards. In the process, cone N. 2 has also been adorned with a brand new symbol. Climbing plants now cling to the front walls. The angle of view allows the various painted symbols to be identified. (see next document).



Photographic montage from Wikipédia.

A photographic montage, borrowed from Wikipedia, displays – albeit in a different order from the actual one – the various symbols now extant in Monte Pertica street. Starting from the left, we can see a cross on a pedestal, a heart pierced by an arrow, a monstrance, a combined cross and tree (?), a dove representing the Holy Spirit, a moon crescent next to a cross. As these symbols have been added after the roofs were rebuilt by local craftsmen in the late 20th century and early 21st century, we are left in no doubt as to their lack of authenticity.



A last farewell to the original Monte Pertica Street.


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This page remains subject to additional edits

Augmented on February 1st, 2011 - June 19th, 2011 - August 23rd, 2011 - October 8th, 2011 - March 6th, 2018

To be referenced as :

Christian Lassure

Series: The trulli or casedde of Alberobello, province of Bari, Italy, through old postcards and photos

III - The changing face of via Monte Pertica in the Monti district (1950-2010)


January 20th, 2011


I - Les trulli. Résumé historique et architectural
Trulli. A historical and architectural summary

II- Photos de la première moitié du XXe siècle
Photos of the first half of the 20th century

III - Les avatars de la rue Monte Pertica au quartier Monti (1950-2010) 
The changing face of via Monte Pertica in the Monti district (1950-2010)

IV - L'hôtel des trulli
The Hotel of the Trulli

V - Rione Monti, via Monte Santo

VI - Rione Monti, via Monte Sabotino

VII - Rione Monti, via Monte San Michele

VIII - Rione Monti, via Monte Nero (en construction)

IX - Rione Monti, via Monte Pasubio (en construction)

X - Rione Monti, via Monte San Gabriele

XI - Rione Monti, via Duca d'Aosta

XII - Rione Monti, piazza d'Annunzio (en construction)

XIII - Rione Monti, vico d'Annunzio (en construction)

XIV - Rione Monti, Chiesa de Sant' Antonio

XV - Rione Monti, panorama della zona monumentale "Principe de Piemonte" (en construction)

XVI - Rione Aia Piccola, piazza Plebiscito

XVII - Rione Aia Piccola, via Giuseppe Verdi (en construction)

XVIII - Rione Aia Piccola, via Duca degli Abruzzi

XIX - Rione Aia Piccola, via Galilei

XX - Il Trullo Sovrano (en construction)

XXI - Via Monte Calvario

XXII - Via Monte Grappa (en construction)

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