Leaving Albania was more eventful than I had hoped. A year earlier when leaving the country I was stopped at the border by Albanian customs. They told me I wasn’t supposed to leave my car in Albania for more than six months and it was going to cost €1500 to rectify the situation. But after some discussions and negotiations we paid a €100 bribe which was shared with their Montenegrin colleagues and we were on our way.
Knowing my car would once again be in Albania more than six months while I was in Australia, we planned ahead and organised a day trip to Kosovo. Due to the carelessness of an acquaintance at the border I was mistakenly stamped in twice on my passport. That caused me a few problems when leaving this time but at least I had all the official exit and entrance stamps for my car.
But apparently our little day trip wasn’t sufficient. According the the port authorities I couldn’t just leave the country with the car, I had to take it into the Schengen Zone and back. Visiting Kosovo or Macedonia wasn’t good enough. That was news to me. I’m not sure they knew what to do about the problem but while deliberating they decided to undertake a very thorough customs inspection of my luggage and car. They told us they were looking for drugs and weapons which isn’t surprising seeing Albania is one of the major European ‘exporters’ of drugs.
I was thankful the full cavity search was only for the car and in the end they waved us through without having to pay a fine/bribe for overstaying. That fun experience was followed by a nasty case of sea sickness while on the ferry but we eventually got out of Albania and safely back to Italy.
What does all that have to do with the trulli houses in southern Italy? Nothing. Except that Puglia and Alberobello’s trulli houses was our first destination after Albania and it was nice to finally be somewhere fun and quirky and pretty and uncomplicated for a change.
The trulli houses were mostly built for farm animals and storage but also as housing for workers and families in the area. The limestone houses with their conical dry stone roofs have simple interiors with each trullo being one room of the house. You can see how a trullo looks on the inside if you step into one of the many shops which line the main streets of Alberobello.
Even though you can see trullis in the countryside and in smaller towns in the area, Alberobello is the place to see the largest grouping of trulli buildings. There is even a trulli Basilica towards the end of the main street.
I think an hour or two is all you need to visit the UNESCO listed area and see most of Alberobello’s trulli houses. It’s quite touristy with bus loads of tour groups and day trippers coming from Bari. But if you’re interested in staying longer and want to sleep in a trullo there are a few Trullo hotel options.