Trulli houses in Puglia, welcome to the sunshine!

We cannot but start with a sigh. Oh, how we wish we could be there! Our hosts are architects Aldo Flore and Rosanna Venezia of studio Arkitetti, who have just refurbished a trullo (a traditional dry stone hut with a conical roof) in Puglia, southern Italy. Puglia is a spectacular region made of olive groves, sun, sea and wind, where we can taste “orecchiette alle cime di rapa” and enjoy the taranta music. Certainly, Puglia is much more besides, but breathtaking views and exceptional trulli makes us want (we, northerners) to pack our bags and head down south immediately.

Under the Puglia sun, white walls and Valle d’Itria limestone. Here, original door and window openings have been kept, tiny windows and a door which would generally be flung open only in fine weather. Now, glass doors let light in every room.

Aldo and Rosanna are experts in the refurbishment of the trulli. By now, their practice studio Arkitetti has refurbished a few hundred of these buildings, helped by the invaluable “trullari”. Trullari are local stonemasons skilled in this ancient craft, which luckily has survived the desertion of the countryside. Recent years have seen the rebirth of the trulli, mainly because they’ve been turned into holiday homes from tourists, who have found peace and genuine hospitality in this magical region.

A view of the trulli, renovated by Arkitetti. A barrel-vaulted annex beside three traditional conical roofs

After having spent many years refurbishing trulli for clients, Aldo and Rossana have finally worked on one for themselves. It’s barely 10 minutes from their home/ office in Ostuni (10 minutes because there’s no traffic here). And with their grownup kids, they spend every possible moment here, be it a sunny afternoon picking thyme, rosemary or the ripest lemons.

Trulli are an extremely ancient form of architecture (we are talking about the stone age), but the ones here are from the late seventeenth century. After the feuds were dismantled, farmers and shepherds were allowed to build temporary shelters, small structures which could be taken down easily, and this is why they used local dry stone. The load bearing conical roof is also from this time. Necessity is the mother of all invention: this is an area filled with olive trees, not suitable for beam construction.

The dining room and kitchen also serves as main entrance. Reclaimed furniture like the dining table, a simple wooden plank painted white and supported by two trestle legs.
Designer lamps modernize a pure-white interior. Flooring in local limestone, both insulated and ventilated, was the focal point of this refurbishment project. The largest opening here, the old wooden door, was replaced with glass to let more light in.

This is the floor plan of the cluster of the trulli of our architects. Walls are in grey. They are extremely thick where they support the conical roof, they provide thermal comfort, because this type of building wasn’t heated and the floor was bare ground. Plus, the window openings were tiny. At dusk, peasants used to come in from the fields, and a shelter was all their required. So, in order to get dry walls, the first thing the architects did was to insulate and ventilate the floor from the ground.

An old door is propped against the wall as a splashback for the stone countertop, and is split in two by the tap.
Small window openings between two adjoining spaces increase light and air circulation.

With simple charm, the weather-beaten look of this rural furniture has a story to tell. Aldo and Rosanna have reused pretty much all the furniture left by the old occupants, and have added a few items from their warehouse. In fact, they have a small storage deposit where they upcycle what’s worth saving, found in the homes they refurbish. In general, it’s the prospective owners who want reclaimed furniture. Here, nobody pretends luxury, Rosanna says, apart from the swimming pool, essential if you spend the baking hot summer months here.

In the largest trullo, the master bedroom with its own outside glass door. Below, where the walls get thicker, several alcoves give the impression of a wider space.
The ensuite bathroom of the master bedroom. In the same way as the other rooms, limestone has been left in its natural state.
Right-hand side, a small alcove used as an exposed closet. In the living room corridor, an old door with layers of peeling red and green paint was kept like it was found.
A breakfast table in the garden. The property has a small garden, but it’s surrounded by fields and olive groves.

Two architects, he’s from Ostuni, she’s from Matera, who have fallen in love with this region, and, just like Rosanna Venezia puts it, are “extremely aware of being in a magical place”. Aldo and Rosanna are extremely passionate about their work, to refurbish abandoned trulli is not just their field of expertise, but a real mission for them. For the happiness of those, who were attracted to this wonderful sunny corner not only by the ancient architecture, but also by the genuine warmth of the locals, appreciating contact with nature and the joy brought by local music.

Design project

Renovation of trulli

Location: Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

Renovation and interior design project:
Flore & Venezia, Arkitetti
Via Bettino Ricasoli 8, Ostuni (Brindisi)
Tel: 00 39 (0) 347 6642 597

Photos:  Courtesy Flore & Venezia, Arkitetti

Foto:  Courtesy Flore & Venezia, Arkitetti

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