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

Christian Lassure



French version          Bilingual French-English version



This early 20th-century photo shows a narrow street – i.e. via Colombo – into which a few residents – mostly women and children, the mensfolk being presumably out at work –  have come out on being warned of a photographer's arrival. The revetment of the street –  or lane to be precise –  is earth, there is no gutter in sight. A gas lamp is affixed to an ashlar chimney stack on the left hand side, indicating that public lighting had already come to Alberobello at the time. On the right-hand side, one can see two entrance porches covered by a semi-circular vault underneath a two-sided stone roof, and in between, a tall large cart entrance covered by a wooden lintel underneath a surbased stone roof. A pedestrian entrance is cut out of the wide wooden door of what is presumably a cart store as evinced by a bollard on the left. The curvilinear profile of the large right-hand stone roof stands out in contrast to the rectilinearity of the cone with the white pinnacle that looms in the distance. The façades are rendered with mortar and whitewashed (photo of unknown origin).



In the Monte Nero street (via Monte Nero) in the Monti district (rione Monti) as photographed by the Alinari photographers circa 1920, the residents are outside their casedda – in local parlance – or trullo – in Italian. Here too, the people are mostly women and children. There is no trace of public lighting, running water and mains drainage. The street surface revetment is earth and gravel, with a central gutter made of large stone slabs. The chimney stack on the left-hand side is fitted with a wooden top that tilts up or down according to where the wind is blowing from. A number of houses have their entrance covered by a stone lintel, others are fronted with a small porch covered by a semi-circular vault under a two-sided stone roof. Where the street turns, there stands out an impressive curvilinear cone fronted with a large porch next to what appears to be a room for a fireplace (photo reprinted in a recent postcard).



In this view taken in the 1950s, the Monte Nero street seems to end as a cul-de-sac (although a right turn is not to be ruled out). The road surface consists only of earth between two slab-built gutters. The document's interest lies not so much in the animated scene that is depicted in it as in the architectural details that are featured in it: in the foreground, on the left, white sheets are hung out to dry on a clothes line held up by perches; two women sitting outside are having a chat while a third one is busy hanging out the washing (?); a man is perched on top of the façade wall of a house (with its telltale smokestack); the tall ladder leaning against the façade points to the way trullo roofs are accessed (for lack of inside access). The large cone roof above the house boasts a rectilinear profile and a composite carved pinnacle, two features indicative of recent construction or restoration. The chimney stacks are capped with opposite machine-made tiles. To the left of the house, the small curvilinear cone roof topped by a stone disk is of a later date. The tall poles in the background are electricity poles (courtesy of the Electricity Fairy).


DOCUMENT 3 - détail

Zooming in on the animated scene outside the house.



The same row in the mid-2000s. A strange device with wrought-iron fittings has been substituted for the mitre at the top of the tall chimney stack. The other two chimney stacks that stood behind it have vanished while a new one has sprung up above the front wall of the house at the far end of the row. Two of the roof cones boast a whitewashed, albeit faded, symbol (they did not have any in the 1950s). At the top of the second cone from the left of the picture, the initial stone disk finial has acquired a more slender base and serves as a support for a ball. At the far end of the cul-de-sac, a private area has been shut off by metal railings. Finally, the front of the house with the ladder (in the 1950s postcard) has been fitted with three wall-mounted electric lamps for nighttime lighting. (This photo originates from a page entitled "Les Pouilles, pays des trulli", in the "Plaisirs, gastronomie et voyages" website).



It would be vain to believe that all trullo cones are capped with a carved pinnacle; some of them are crowned simply by a large circular slab, access to which is by a flight of steps built into the stone roof. But for the steps and slab, the agile young lady in the picture would not have made it to the top and sat on the crowning slab for a photo op. (photo origin: pending identification).

To print, use landscape mode


This page remains subject to additional edits

January 5th, 2011 - Augmented on January 8, 2011 - January 20th, 2011 - February 12th, 2011 - June 22nd, 2011 - March 6th, 2018

To be referenced as :

Christian Lassure

The trulli or casedde of Alberobello, province of Bari, Italy, through old postcards and photos
II - Photos of the first half of the 20th century (version en anglais)


5 janvier 2011

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

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

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

IV - L'hôtel des trulli
The Hotel of theTrulli

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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