Alberobello the trulli town is a UNESCO heritage site and the number one tourist attraction in Puglia. Not by a few percentage points either but by a country mile. It is almost bigger than the rest put together and so is hugely important to the tourist industry here in Puglia.
Tourist flock there. They come by coach , bus, car and train. Many cycle there too from the surrounding area, brave little darlings that they are. Many North Americans cycle in with organised tour companies like Butterfield and Robinson . These are more like American presidential cyclecades if there are such things. An advanced car with headlights and klaxon clears the road and warns on-coming drivers, then a van with spares and a few large flags flying, followed by the cyclecade with large poles on each cycle with brightly coloured luminous flags at the top and every rider in day glow gear . Finally two more support cars and a bus to pick up tired participants .
My best and indeed only cycling tour was a downhill only cycling tour of part of North Island, New Zealand. Everyone sat on the bus to the top of the fairly long hills and then the guides stopped, unloaded the bikes and we freewheeled down to the bottom where the bus with a trailer for the bikes was waiting to carry us up the next hill. Absolute magic. People were amazed in the various pubs we stopped at each evening at the distance and the terrain we had travelled as well as being bowled over at our ability to prop the bar up all night seemingly unfazed by the next days arduous ride.
But back to Alberobello and the heading of this post. Come on you know me by now.
What do you think is the most popular month for tourism in Alberobello. Yep August and what is the month Italians all take off for their own holidays. Yup August. So you get where we are heading with this.
There is, of course, a Tourist Office in Alberobello and important it must be with so many independent tourists visiting every day and eager for information, maps, directions etc.
So lets look inside the office for a moment. It employes 4 people . Two are city employees who are part of the Municiple Workers Union. They get enforced rest days on Saturday, Sunday and all public holidays plus a specified number of sick days that they must use each year whether sick or not. They also get 8 weeks holiday. The other two are members of one of the big three National Unions. They are part of a nation wide agreement that restricts the hours they can work from July 23 to 15 September to just 21 hours a week maximum plus they of course get their 8 weeks holiday.
You can imagine dear reader the effect this has on the manning levels at Puglia’s top tourist attraction. The office during the peak months with often just one person in attendance is open only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to midday.
Go on, here is Ronnie Corbett in a clip form Open all Hours
Alberobello is as close as you will get to Disneyland without going to Paris . Every trullo on the walk is a gift shop, a T shirt shop or a cafe. Sellers line the steps pushing post cards and locals look suitably hobbitish as they pose outside the doors of the remaining few houses.
Personally it is my idea of a tourist’s nightmare but that is just me and clearly I am in the minority. What did amaze me was meeting a visitor in a pizzaria the other day who was staying on one of the many Trulli hotels that dot this area. Where to tomorrow I asked. Alberobello he replied. But you are living in a trullo I said. Oh we are really looking forward to seeing the town he replied. Well it takes all sorts.
I love you truly !!!