They were originally constructed as temporary field shelters, and then affordable village housing – yet nowadays they can command quite a price…
The trulli were first built by farmers and shepherds working in the Itria Valley, and would often be dismantled and reconstructed elsewhere as the patterns of agriculture shifted across the land. Then they were used in urban environments as affordable housing. Nowadays, they are well-sought after by Northern European emigrants and investors looking for a second home in the sun – a well-preserved trullo in a desirable location could set you back as much as any comparable town house.
Puglia, and particularly the Itria Valley, which is the true home of the trullo, is one of the up-and-coming areas of Italy for property, and a good trullo doesn’t usually stay on the market for long. Many, particularly where they are found together, as they are in Alberobello for example, are no longer single units, but have been knocked through to create small accommodation complexes – with all the mod-cons you can imagine.
The myth is that if you remove the keystone at the top of the conical roof the entire house falls down in seconds. This, if you think about it, is obviously not true! First, that would be dangerous to anybody who went inside; and second, how would that even work? No, while it is true that the trullo can be easily assembled, and easily disassembled, this is not a game of Jenga.