Bribes, Cavity Searches and Quirky Trulli Houses

Alberobello Trulli Houses

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.

Unesco Listed Trulli Houses in Puglia

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.

The Conical Roof of Italy's Stone Trulli Buildings

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.

Whitewashed Limestone Walls of the Trulli

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.

Trulli Village in Southern 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.

Quirky Trulli Houses in Italy Near Bari

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.

Many of the trulli buidings are now tourist shops.

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.

Trulli Basilica in Alberobello Italy

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.

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of road trip blog Rear View Mirror. She is currently driving her Fiat 500 around Europe. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram.


Comments

  1. So leaving Albania was not a good experience, I see. I like the way you say it was even more eventful than you hoped! I really like those Trulli houses. I see they’re down the road from Monopoli :). We haven’t been further south than Ancona on the Adriatic coast of Italy so I’m looking forward to doing so one day.

    • I won’t be going back to Albania for a while. I always get in trouble there! What’s in Monopoli? I saw the turnoff for there but didn’t go.

  2. Gorgeous houses! We have to get there too!

  3. What happened to you in Albania is customary in that part of the world, Andrea. Laws there are conceived to make people’s lives miserable so, in their turn, they will either pay the fines or try to bribe the authorities to get out of trouble. Sometimes though you are glad the authorities are so easily corruptible …

  4. I have seen photos of that wonderful lace everywhere and I really want to go. Looks like it is finally going to happen.