Trulli Houses of Alberobello, Italy: a Whimsical, Magical World Heritage Site
Lured by the promise of an off-the-beaten-path UNESCO World Heritage site, I ventured to southern Italy to see the magical trulli houses in Alberobello. And I was enchanted. Back in the 1600s, these limestone houses were built without mortar so that the residents could quickly dismantle them when the king's taxman rode through town. Today mortar has been incorporated into most, and the trullis have been converted into charming guest houses, restaurants, and little shops. Each one is unique, and many are decorated with rooftop symbols categorized as primitive, Christian, or magic.
The entire Puglia region is easily accessed by renting a car at the Bari airport. Public transportation is limited to non-existent. This is a sleepy part of Italy, and the locals enjoy an afternoon riposo, or siesta. Plan ahead because almost everything will be closed in the middle of the day: shops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.