The Valle d’Itria, or Itria Valley, is classic Puglia: rolling countryside half-covered in olive groves and dotted with round, spiky-roofed trulli houses. A day spent driving around here will give you a real flavour of this sun-baked southern region of Italy – we’d recommend focusing your attention on a trio of the valley’s beautiful small towns, Alberobello, Locorotondo and Cisternino. Get a flavour of them with our video below, then read on to find out what each town is all about.
Alberobello is the spiritual home of the trullo – you’ll find entire neighbourhoods of the distinctive houses here, lining hilly streets on the south side of town. Although you’ll find them dotted here and there in the more modern part of town, the majority of them are split between two neighbourhoods, Rione Aia Piccola and Rione Monti. Rione Monti is the busier part, where most trulli have been converted into boutiques, enoteche (wine shops) and restaurants. Spend an hour browsing for ceramics, postcards and all manner of delicious foodie bits (bags of tarallini biscuits, packs of fave fritte – fried broad beans – and bottles of locally produced wine), then stroll a little way along Via Indipendenza to Aia Piccola. Mainly made up of residential trulli, Aia Piccola is a lot quieter and less crowded, and great for experiencing a more authentic side of Alberobello.
Locorotondo is a quick, 10-minute drive from Alberobello (15 if you take the scenic route along Strada Acquarulo Zona A – which we’d definitely recommend). Its old town is a beautifully kept maze of whitewashed houses, which open out on one side to the Parco Comunale – a lovely, leafy park with scene-stealing views across the countryside. A thorough wander through the higgledy-piggledy lanes shouldn’t take much more than an hour, but leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy lunch or a coffee at one of the cafes on Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.
A further 10-minute drive will land you in Cisternino. It’s similar in feel to Locorotondo – narrow lanes, whitewashed buildings, balconies spilling over with flowers, and a park with photo-worthy countryside views. Look out for the tiny Church of St. Lucia, which dates back to the 17th-century and is dedicated to the patron saint of Cisternino. If you can, time your visit for evening, when you can experience the town’s famous barbecue butchers. Here, you don’t choose your meat and take it away with you – you hand it over to the butcher and wait on little wooden tables outside while they barbecue it for you right there and then. Perhaps add on a few bombette to your order – these little meat-and-cheese parcels make the perfect side dish.
Where to stay
Base yourself at the sleek, chic Borgo Egnazia and you’ll be half an hour from all three towns, so you could spread your visits out across a few days if you didn’t want to tick off all three in one go. The hotel offers up a great pool scene and a beach club just down the road, so relaxing post-sightseeing won’t be a problem. It also arranges all sorts of fantastic Apulian-themed experiences, like picnics in olive groves, cookery classes and wine tastings at local vineyards.