We couldn't go to Puglia without visiting Alberobello. The home of the trulli.
Yes, we'd been told it was touristy. We'd been told it was especially packed out in the summer. In fact we'd been given all the warnings, but it was still somewhat a surprise to see the swarms of tourists in huge groups. They were all following each other up and down the main streets like sheep; buying miniature trulli to take home; kids screaming for the plastic toys in the shop; the unfit stopping for breath as they meandered up the hill; far too many selfies being taken in front of the conical roofs.
At first this seems unbearable, stifling, Disneyland-esque. (I've never been to Disneyland but I imagine it is this claustrophobic and distressing). But soon you realise that you are a human, and not a sheep. It is therefore possible to turn off the main road up and down the hill; there will be no sheepdog yapping at your heels to stop you doing so. A couple of metres away from the busy routes, you can find calm, beauty, normal lives. You're allowed to take some time without being jostled to admire these stunning structures, their pointy lids drawing your eyes up the blue skies and bright sun, their white-washed walls reflecting the beaming light, keeping the hot town cool.
When we dared venture even further away from the main carrousel of mindless sight-seers, we crossed the road to the other side of town. It's here that the shops sell more than just tourist toot, the restaurants serve more than soggy pizza and some Walls ice-cream. We stepped into the cathedral and we were alone. Silence. Less than 50m away from the swarms.
Poking our heads into the Alimentari on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, we came out a good while later laden down with fresh ricotta, the most delicious tomato focaccia, and wine. Finally it was time for lunch, so, as per Christine Smallwood's recommendation, we headed to Miseria e Nobilità on the Piazza del Popolo for a glass of wine and a plate of ham (the owner Franco only serves hams that are DOP, and you can also trust him to pick you the perfect glass of wine).
Misera e Nobilità gives you a glimpse into the real life in Alberobello, free from the sheep who won't venture this far from the pasture land, much to our relief.
Misera e Nobilità, Piazza del Popolo 28/29, 70011, Alberobello