Alberobello – Apulia, Italy

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In the little-known but fascinating region of Apulia, the heel of the Italian “boot,” is Alberobello, a town with a charm so peculiar that it’s difficult to remember which country you’re in, or which planet you’re on. The city’s zona monumentale of conical whitewashed trulli takes visitors inside a child’s storybook: imagine Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as interpreted by Tolkien.

There are more than 1,000 of these unique beehive structures in Alberobello and the rural area immediately surrounding it (twice that, by some accounts, in the area’s Valle d’ltria). They crop up like clusters of mushrooms among the abundant olive trees.

These whimsical, rather eerie hallmarks of Italy’s southernmost region are found nowhere else in the country. Their primitive shape gives the impression that they are ancient, when in fact the oldest date to the 18th century.

Today the trulli are used as homes, stores, storage space—even the local church of St. Anthony (Sant’Antonio) is in the form of a trullo. If you fancy eating in one, look no further than II Poeta Contadino, oddly formal for a centuries-old trullo but offering one of the area’s best renditions of cucina pugliese (Apulia, or Puglia, is one of the country’s richest agricul­tural regions and home of some of Italy’s finest j olive oil production). The wine selection at Il Poeta is one of the finest around.

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