The outer covering is the only part which is exposed to weather conditions, and this is the reason why it assumes a gray colour, which is typical of trulli. In fact, this part consists of limestone slabs, named chiancarelle, chiancole or chianche, which are long and whose thickness is not always the same. They are arranged without using any binder. Chiancarelle are placed in rows, outward, in order to facilitate rainwater flow; they are placed so that the position of the upper one does not coincide with the lower one. Often, in more elaborated structures, there are also rain gutters of stone placed on the roof base in order to collect rainwater in an underground cistern tank. On the top of the Trullo there is a Pinnacle that locks the last row and that is formed by smaller plates. The Trullo dwelling has only one entrance door, which has different characteristics and structure depending on the age of the house. Generally, the oldest Trullo entrance door is characterized by a simple architrave, or just a stone lintel and a relieving arch, all made of stone or wood. These elements usually form two slopes of the conic roof. This technique has gradually improved, and the arch has been replaced by a sort of pediment, whose pendants are formed by the heads of the chiancole. The outside adjacent spaces of the door, which sometimes are a kind of vestibule with a round arch, present benches made of stone or masonry, where women sat in order to do housework. Trullo's windows used to be small and just a few; they are usually squared and they are placed under the eaves line. Another characteristic element of the structure of the Trullo is the chimney, which can have various shapes. The most archaic one has the form of a square parallelepiped surmounted by a big and thin stone slab.
TRULLO'S ROOMSPeople who lived in the trullo usually organized trullo's rooms themselves, and they modified the house in order to suit their own needs. As the family number increased, people used to build another room, adjoining to the older building. Actually, the structure of the Trullo dwelling was "modular", so it was possible to add new premises to the initial nucleus. But, when it was not possible, the alternative was to bring down the whole house, which had become too small and no longer useable, in order to build a bigger one. Generally, the environments which were used as stables, sheepfolds or deposits were separated from the living space, still following the same building technique. The main house, paved with limestone flagstones, presents a central room with the entrance door. Often, because of the fact that the dwelling was very small, the cone roof space was used, building a wooden loft, which was only accessible via a non-fixed ladder. The loft was used as a deposit, for agricultural equipment and foodstuffs, or just as a bedroom for children. In the trullo there were alcoves and focarili, two spaces with specific functions. Alcoves are big niches, without neither windows nor openings, used as a bedroom. Their number can vary according to the number of family members. They can be reached by an arch and have a barrel vault. Externally, the alcove covering is partially included in the body of the Trullo and is characterized by rounded shapes without cusps. Focarili, on the other hand, are a kind of room-fireplace for warming up and cooking. Their size can vary and nowadays they are not so common as they were before. Often, Focarili rooms have a little door in order to access the garden.
THE PINNACLESThe top of the cone roof of Trullo ends with rows of smaller chiancarelle. They are blocked through the pinnacle, a piece which quite always consists of four elements. The first part consists of the last roof rows, generally sealed with mortar and covered with lime; the second part, made of stone, is named Cannarile and it has a cylindrical shape or a truncated cone shape; the third part is called Carrozzola or Scodella (bowl), due to its form; the fourth and last one, the Cocla, consists of a stone sphere. According to some academics, Pinnacles are a kind of "brand", a signature of the master builders - called Trullari - used by them to distinguish their work. Another thesis tells that they are just decorative items chosen by the house owners. Other experts claim that their origin can be traced back to a primitive magic symbolism. In fact, their shapes (disk, sphere, cone, pyramid with a square or triangular base) were linked to the sun worship, carried on in ancient times by peasants, and documented in Puglia since the first century BC. In the oldest trulli the short cylinder and the horizontal disc are surmounted by a rough pyramid, with a triangular or square base. Sometimes the Cocla takes the shape of a cross or a star; other times it has the same shape of the lime-painted symbols on the cone. Occasionally, it consists of a sphere surmounted by a cross, which is the symbol of Christianity. Actually, the magic meaning of these elements, as well as of the painted symbols, was gradually replaced by a religious interpretation. Moreover, in recent buildings, both the modification of aesthetic taste and the improved technical capacity permitted traditional forms to be replaced with anthropomorphic or decorative sculptures.
Edited by Tommaso A. Galiani
Translated by Domenico Sonnante
Revised by Ilaria Noemi De Carlo