Pro Loco di Alberobello
For information, booking and guided tours contact us at our Office
Photos are made by Annese's Brothers and Federica Mancini
THE VIPER WOMAN FROM BARSENTO
It was a dark night, with a blood coloured moon, when twenty people made the same dream: a woman with the essence of a viper. She had a ghostly look and her eyes created a hypnotic effect, intensified by the tight and horizontally extended elliptical pupil. Below her neck, the scales of the head blended in perfectly with the rest of her pale-yellow skin tone.
Although her imposing body and her reptile aspect, the Woman was at the same time horrifying and able to inspire confidence to those people.
So during that nightmare, the Viper Woman asked men to go at Barsento’s Valley, where they would meet some friends, and all together they would have to climb through dense vegetation that covered the slope of a hill; so, they would discover a cavity containing a large quantity of gold.
The Viper Woman from Barsento persuaded each of the twenty men to desire to take possession of gold, and she asked them to divide all the treasure into equal parts. Moreover, she added that one of the twenty men would have died as a result of this discovery, due to a mysterious rite.
The next morning the men compared their dreams and, once verified the similarity, they decided to meet again that evening at twilight at the agreed place. Among them there was a lame. The oldest in the group, well-known for being greedy, proposed to the others to predestine the young lame as victim, and everyone agreed.
At twilight the group of men went into the woods and found, as announced, a cave, whose walls seemed to be covered with resplendent wax. The winds explorers came into the bottom of the cave, they saw a number of baskets woven with golden straw and filled with grapes, prickly pears, early figs, apricots, walnuts, acorns, cherries and many other types of golden fruit. Unexpectedly, the mysterious substance that covered the cave broke away from the back wall creating a kind of silhouette initially undefined. Gradually this silhouette took the shape of a solid gold plow pulled by two huge oxen. In the meantime, it outlined the silhouette of a plowman made of the same precious material, which clutched in his fist a gold tip. In front of the group a man was sat. In his right hand he clutched a large iron bar. He was the guardian of the treasure, left there to guard against criminals, but not for eternity. In fact, the soul of the intended victim would have taken his place that same night, after being slaughtered by him. Actually, the Viper Woman had decided that it was time to liberate the current guardian from his role, and in this way she made him reach the realm of the afterlife.
The nineteen men, seeing all that gold and more and more convinced of the validity of their infamous pact, to appease the spirit of the keeper, rushed against the lame. However, the guardian of the treasure stood up, picked up the crowbar vigorously, and began to strike the unfortunates without mercy. He only killed one, the one who had proposed to kill the lame. Except for the latter, the intended victim of men, but not that of fate, the other eighteen found themselves battered and ill-treat at last. Moreover, unfortunately, the treasure was gone, melted with the sky-blue walls of the cave.
Perhaps, this story is repeated again today, and perhaps it will be repeated forever, until the end of the world, until someone will still be willing to sacrifice a friend in order to satisfy his ego and to listen to dreams.
THE GREEDY SHEPHERD
Once upon a time, a young shepherd lived near Barsento, and he was endowed with beauty and great strength. He was not happy with his condition, nor of his life. But he did not know exactly what he wanted.
His mother told him to pray to God intensely, in order to make Him clarify his ideas; in this way sooner or later something would happen.
Every day the shepherd woke up before dawn, he washed himself with cold water contained in a tub and he got dressed. Then, he knelt and prayed to the Holy Mary. He used to load his bag with a loaf of bread, some tomatoes, a piece of cheese and fresh water. Then, he gathered his flock and walked toward the grazing land or forests. While the herd was grazing, he stopped in front of the church of Saint Mary and watched the cuspidate façade and conic roofs a conversa. Sometimes, when it was warmer, the young man looked for a bit of fresh air inside the sacred building, and there, sit on the church stairs, he analyzed every detail of the three barrel-vaulted naves, which joined by means of arches. These arches were resting on large and short shelves and on square pillars, and they were made white by the dazzling white of the lime with which they had painted the entire surface. Each nave ended in an apse, and only the central one had a square window.
One day he decided to bring the sheep to graze in the woods, where the vegetation was thick and dark. And there, the young shepherd was struck by a sudden glow.
Getting closer, he saw a snake which had a brilliant on the top of the head, covered with small green scales. Nestled between the snake’s eyes, covered by a transparent film, the stone gleamed a lot.
So, the shepherd decided to kill the snake in order to take possession of the stone. But, before he could act that way, the snake lifted and showed its large scales.
Suddenly, the snake exclaimed with a human voice, staring at the young man and opening its jaws: "If you are awake and you are not stupid, do not hit me and I do not attack you. Let live in peace who does not make you evil".. The shepherd did not listen to the exhortation because he wanted the brilliant at any cost. Therefore, with a big stick in his hand and all the strength in his body, the shepherd struck the snake. At last the snake fell to the ground with his head mangled. Soon after, however, the snake began to expand and it quickly reached the size of a large ox. As it approached the pastor with a header it threw him on a sharp rock, almost killing him. So, the young shepherd opened his eyes and saw in front of him the three apses of St. Mary’s Church, and the sheep looked at him bewildered. The man, who was tired, had dozed off in the hot sun. After drying his sweat and drinking water, he thought he heard a voice: "If you are awake and you are not stupid, do not hit me and I do not attack you. Let live in peace who does not make you evil". Now, through the dream, the young shepherd had learned his lesson. In life without pain and disappointments, without breaking any dream, you do not learn to consider your own heart and to live with your own destiny.
THE SERPENT OF PAPARALE
Siamo nella contrada che oggi chiamano Paparale, alle porte del paese. Qui sorgeva una torre piuttosto alta e molto possente, innalzata con una tecnica costruttiva che, apparentemente rudimentale, aveva consentito di edificare un edificio resistente e inespugnabile. La torre era difficile da raggiungere perchè protetta da una folta vegetazione. L'erezione della torre era stata ordinata da un antico sacerdote, famoso e odiato per la sua avarizia. Per renderla inattaccabile si era rivolto ad esperti costruttori, provenienti dall'altra sponda dell'Adriatico. Così, ogni qual volta il vecchio taccagno riusciva ad accumulare ricchezze correva a nasconderle nella sua torre. We are in the district which is nowadays called Paparale, situated near the village. Here a Tower rose up, rather high and very powerful. The apparently rudimentary construction technique used to build the Tower had actually let build a strong and impregnable building. In fact, the Tower was difficult to reach because it was protected by a thick vegetation. An old Priest, who was famous and hated because of his greed, had asked this tower to be built. To make it unassailable the Priest had asked some expert builders from the other side of the Adriatic Sea to build it. Thus, whenever the old miser Priest was able to accumulate wealth, then he ran to hide it in his tower. The only building near the tower was a large Trullo which had been built without any binder. The thick walls abutted a large step, with narrow gallery, whose thickness was obtained in the entrance. This entrance was surmounted by an arched pediment. Moreover, it was protruding from the walls, as well as another part, covered in a conic shape, and leaning on the right side of the building. This Trullo used to be the house of the Priest, and the place in which he performed his religious practices. During his life, he had never loved, and no one had loved him. Feeling to be close to death, the old Priest did not accept the idea that his heirs or others could take possession of his fortune.
He waited for a moonless night, when he was certain that no one was nearby. He well-knew that the fields were being deserted for two days because he had ordered to never work in the last two days of waning moon or without star. Therefore, he reached the top of the tower. Once performed magic paraphernalia secret formulas, the Priest burned herbs and infused with extraordinary powers in a brass brazier. Then, he anointed himself with such substances, and he invoked the spirits of the darkness. They came to him and they made a pact, in which the priest asked his treasure to be protected for the eternity in exchange for his soul. The Nefarious Spectra put a big black snake - with a long, golden horn on the head - as Priest’s treasure guard. So, anyone who would have approached it would have dead of fear or killed by the reptile.
However, on his deathbed the Priest felt regretful, and he told everything to his heirs. The evil, angry for this situation, destroyed the mighty tower, forgetting the snake with the golden horn. For this reason, the treasure was never discovered. It was the night of the 24 June, the day of summer solstice. For centuries, in this district, people used to burn - during that night - some St. John's wort, harvested in the morning. In fact, this magical plant reaches its maximum power in June. You can find it in sunny and dry places. According to belief, the numerous yellow flowers with five petals, shiny and speckled with black, when burned in the night of St. John, have the power to cast out demons, or at least to weaken them year after year.
THE CHEATING HIGHWAYMAN
Even in a magical land, enchanted by stories, the history offers insights threatening. In some districts of Alberobello everyone knew the name of an Highwayman, called Cyrus Annichiarico. He was born in a far region, and he belonged to a rather wealthy family. When he was still a child, he went to study at his father’s seminary, in order to become a Priest. Once he became a Minister he could finally get out of the Ecclesiastical College. Certainly his appearance and character did not make him lovable to the faithful. He was stout, hairy, irritable, and he loved risk. He was also gifted exaggeration in everything. People murmured that when he was thirty years old he had probably had an affair with a girl called Antonia, known as Curciola. He was so overwhelmed by jealousy that he killed her lover. This murder forced him to flee away and hide himself in the countryside. Thus, he became a Highwayman. But, somebody gave another reason for his choice.
Cyrus had a particularly attractive sister. She succumbed to the lure of her boyfriend, who had promised to marry her. She became pregnant.
Firstly, Cyrus did not say anything. Then, he faced his sister's boyfriend and said: "Dude, please now you must marry her in order to solve this problem". The boy took his time, but then Cyrus added: "If you don't marry her in a month, I’ll break your chest with two shots!" After a month and a day, Cyrus found him on the street, he approached him and without saying anything he did what he had promised. This second version not fully justifies his choice, but at least it was the trigger of what people called it "a matter of honor." Nevertheless, Cyrus had some good aspects, just like everyone else. He was really brave, sincere, loyal and honest in relationships with friends. He often went to Alberobello, where there were some friends of him, also among the most respectable families. When he arrived, he used to find hospitality at Brigida’s house. She was a young and beautiful widow, and also his lover. Proudly, the Priest used to say that the wind had married them, and that their oath had been sanctified by the nature. He referred to the fact that one day he led his woman at a hideout deep in a forest, near a place called Horn of the Witch. Surrounded by a landscape marked by white stone walls, between pastures and white farmhouses, just on top of a little hill, they both cut two tufts of their hair, and they laid them on the palms of their hands and they waited for the wind to carry them away, thus becoming part of the nature's elements. Cyrus had always carried a heap of coins. This sum was the result of his work as Highwayman, but also of the rich legacy left to him by his father. One day, the Highwayman decided to entrust the sum to his wife. But, no one knows how some thieves came to know about this, and they decided to steal her treasure. Therefore, a friend of Cyrus, named Gigante, came to know the aim of the thieves, and he decided to warn him. Therefore, Cyrus took the treasure from Brigida, and he ran to hide it in a safe place, that is in the house of his friend, Gigante. The same evening he left in a hurry because he came to know that the king Ferdinand had sent the famous General Church to combat the phenomenon of brigandage. After some time, the General got to besiege the Masseria farm in which Cyrus had took shelter with his beloved. After the first assault, which failed, the General sent a cannon from Taranto and he pointed it towards the tower of rural construction. At that point, the robbers had to surrender. Once arrested, they were all shot and their heads were exposed in their native villages.
All the treasure remained in the hands of Mr. Gigante, who became very rich because he never gave any single coin to Brigida. Often, when he thought to his friend Priest, he used to say: "Mors tua, vita mea!" (i.e. Your death, my life). And what a life…
THE THEFT OF THE TREASURE FROM BASILICA CHURCH
OF SAINTS COSMA AND DAMIANO OF ALBEROBELLO
Once upon a time, a truly extraordinary and unprecedented event occurred in Alberobello. A rich family who lived in a luxurious house of Orlando district had accumulated great wealth by making thefts and robberies in the farms of the area. This family used to divide the booty among family members after every theft.
One day, two of them decided to steal the precious items donated by believers and preserved in the Minor basilica of Saints Cosma and Damiano in Alberobello, thus despising the sacredness of a revered place of worship. The two thieves entered the church on the day of the Liturgical Feast of the Saints, and they admired the many riches in front of them, enjoying the moment when they would have taken them away. While they were leaving with the loot, they realized they had forgotten to take the halos placed on the head of the Sacred Statues. So they laid on the ground the sack full of precious things and climbed on the two statues. However, while they were going to steal the halos, both of them remained hung to the Statues. And, they remained in that uncomfortable position all night long. The next day the Priest found them there, and he incredulously ran to ring the bells. Later, the Priest alerted the Police, who recovered the stolen goods, but they could not stop the two thieves because they could not pull them down from the Statues. Earlier, a large group of indignant believers had come inside the building: the women had begun to pray, while men had started proposing any sort of solution to deliver the thieves to the police. The situation, however, remained unchanged and soon the believers began to talk to the statues, but no one answered. Finally, the believers proposed to the Saints to punish the criminals by condemning them and all their family to poverty for seven generations. To everyone's amazement, suddenly the two thieves fell down from the Statues. They got up, they were not beaten, but people asked them to go home. The two thieves went away in a hurry, and they got away with it. But, when they came back home that night they heard strange noises and squeaks. Frightened, they asked Santa Rosa, whose statue was placed in their house, to be saved, in the case something serious was happening. Suddenly the situation returned to calm. But a few days after the statue began to swing with force, so that the two thieves and their families, being afraid of the collapse of the house, escaped just with what they were wearing. They were just in time to pick up the statue of Santa Rosa, when the house collapsed, burying forever all their treasures. At the end these men became beggars and remained in such a situation for seven generations, as Saints Cosma and Damiano had wanted.
The theft of the treasure from Basilica Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano of Alberobello (original name: Il furto del tesoro dei SS. Medici nella basilica di Alberobello), in “Umanesimo della pietra- Riflessioni”, Edizioni pugliesi – Luglio 2013 - Martina Franca (Ta).
The serpent of paparale (original name: Il serpente dal corno d’oro di Paparale nell’immaginario collettivo di Alberobello), in “Umanesimo della pietra- Riflessioni”, Edizioni pugliesi - Luglio 2001– Martina Franca (Ta).
The Greedy Shepherd (original name: Il pastore avido), in “Umanesimo della pietra- Riflessioni”, Edizioni pugliesi – Luglio 2000 - Martina Franca (Ta).
The viper Woman From Barsento (original name: La donna dal volto viperino), in “Umanesimo della pietra- Riflessioni”, Edizioni pugliesi – Luglio 2000 - Martina Franca (Ta)
Edited by Tommaso A. Galiani
Translated by Domenico Sonnante
Revised by Ilaria Noemi De Carlo