A Travellerspoint blog

Trullo in Puglia

By Marty Way

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At first glance it may look like boobs on a Hobbit house but a ‘Trullo’ is profoundly functional and the preeminent architectural feature of the Italian region of Puglia.IMG_6297.jpeg

A Trullo is a stone building with a conical or domed roof. The centuries-old construction technique is still used today. Roughly-worked limestone boulders are stacked into arches inside, then flatter stones are vaulted on top, with incrementally smaller circumferences to form the conical roof above. It makes a dwelling that is cool in summer and naturally captures heat inside, in winter.

The city of Alberobello features the most famous example of trulli (i.e. ‘trulli’=plural; ‘trullo’= singular). This old town is a preserve of narrow streets winding past homes and shops; their pert and pointy roofs reaching for the sky.IMG_6300.jpegIMG_6303.jpeg

Our airbnb accommodation has two Trullo, ergo its name “Trullo Trilli.” It’s spacious, airy and (figuratively) cool, yet features the classic arches inside with their rough stone texture.IMG_3203.jpegIMG_3202


So, did I expect to open the door to find Bilbo Baggins sitting in a rocking chair? It fires the imagination, doesn’t it? Appreciation of architecture is so subjective after all.

Posted by WayWayFar 06:11 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

The Sassi of Matera

By Marty Way

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The place is reminiscent of Fred and Barney, but the citizens of Matera can’t be faulted for being cave dwellers. In the past 10,000 years or so, they’ve been ruled by Romans, Lombards, Arabs, Byzantines, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese….and now Italians.IMG_6272



The Sassi, a multi-tiered collection of dwellings about 380 meters high, cut or built into the limestone hillside was deemed uninhabitable in the 1950’s and the poverty-sticking residents were moved out. But the Sassi of Matera is having a renewal; a renaissance, if you will. Artists are establishing shops in the ancient caves. Visionaries are seeing potential for residential chic.IMG_6271






Jona speculates that House Hunters International will soon feature a visionary who acquires a pile of rocks in Matera, with a damp cave in behind them. Then this cavern will transform into a home that radiates soft yellow light off of the limestone…onto the jubilant owner, making them look inspired… and an echo that makes them seem doubly clever. Stay tuned..

Posted by WayWayFar 17:11 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Amalfi…on the Tyrrhenian Sea

By Marty Way

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Prior to visiting Amalfi, if I’d been asked to point out where the Tyrrhenian Sea is, I would have put my finger on the map on a body of water known for its tyranny and pirates. However, this sea is actually on the west coast of Italy, bounded by Sardinia to the north and Sicily to the south.

We are in Amalfi and the waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea do slap the rocky shore here. Amalfi and the next town down the road, Positano, are said to be haunts of the rich and famous, and are striking architecturally as the towns are built on the cliffs of mountains that rise an abrupt 1300 meters out of the sea.IMG_6256.jpeg

The most satisfying way the access these towns along this coast, is by boat or ferry. The approach from the water gives splendid views of the coastline. However, on our travel day, high winds created chop, making the sea tyrannical. The ferries were not sailing. We took the regional bus from Sorrento to Amalfi; a wild-assed ride on a narrow road, past olive groves and vineyards, over gorges, through fog, tunnels and hair-pin turns, under rocky overhangs… and descending into town on switch-backs that snake precariously along the cliffs.

The Main Street of Amalfi meanders up a narrow gorge, making this a one-street town. The Cathedral of St. Andrea is impressive and worth a visit. Otherwise, people watching is the top attraction … if you’re not into shopping.IMG_6243




So, next time someone tells you that they went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy, you can say, “Oh yes, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.” They will look at you quizzically… but you will grin knowingly.

Posted by WayWayFar 06:02 Archived in Italy Comments (0)


By Marty Way

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They must have talked to each other in Pompeii. They had multi-holed public toilets and sat side by side in one grand room. Surely someone must have quipped, “What’s up with Mt Vesuvio? Its been rumbling, belching and groaning like cart full of slaves lately.” Sometimes its important to ask the right question.

Then Mt Vesuvius blew. Day turned into night as a cloud of burning fragments of pumice (lapilli) was sent kilometres into the air and began raining down, covering Pompeii. Residents had no way of escaping and within days the city was under ten meters or lapilli. Then a pyroclastic-flow (a lahar) swept over the erstwhile city, temperatures reached 600 degrees Celsius and the ruins were sealed into a sort of time capsule that folklore forgot about.IMG_6214.jpeg

Fast forward to 1579 when architect Dominica Fontana was digging a canal and hit an unexpected marble structure. The archeology began shortly thereafter and continues today. Of the 66 hectares of original Pompeii, 44 have been excavated.

Everyone knows the tragic story of Pompeii (which I just compressed into three paragraphs) and has seen photos of plaster casts of Pompeians anguished in their doom. This archeological site is a chance to walk on 2000-year-old Roman streets, snoop around ancient houses, temples, shops, cafes, amphitheaters, a brothel…and of course those toilet rooms where neighbours probably talked about money. The city was adorned with colourful frescos, sculpture and ornate architecture, befitting of the wealth that resided at this prosperous commercial port in the first century A.D.c06cfeb0-7423-11ee-9329-75d5aba7c676.jpegIMG_6199.jpeg..

So, how did the rumbling of an imminent volcanic eruption get missed in the day-to-day of Pompeian life? Archeologists surmise that the Romans knew little about volcanos or that Mt Vesuvius is one. The dramatic demise of Pompeii could just be point in history where humans learned a hot, gassy lesson the hard way. So, are cities still built close to active volcanos? Of course.

Posted by WayWayFar 17:27 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Jugo wind Affects the Croatian State of Mind

By Marty Way

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Our walking food tour was cancelled at the last minute blaming the rainy Jugo (pronounced: ‘You-go’) weather. Vendors will be closed during these conditions, the notice explained, reducing the selections available for the food tour.

Rain and wind seems a trivial reason to cancel a food tour. People do eat indoors after all. But an outsider, like me, has to be educated about the magnitude of a Jugo wind. You see, it blows strongly from the south (Jugo is Croatian for ‘south.’ Huh?)(ergo: “Yugoslavia”…Slavia of the south) the Adriatic coast, has a warm, humid embrace and is typically accompanied by dark clouds and rain.

But a Jugo also affects the Croatian state of mind if it persists for many days. A person may blame the wind for their odd behaviour, grumpiness…or if their day is just isn’t going well. One’s Jugo can be blamed for headaches, nausea, absentmindedness, body pain and depression; it is the universal excuse; a useful antidote to work.

The opposite of a Jugo is a “Bura,” and it is preferred. The Bura whistles down from the mountains, imparts a chill…and does it with gusto. Bura winds can reach 220 km/hr, so standing up is tricky. Road traffic is disrupted, bridges are closed, ferry crossings get cancelled. However, the Bura clears everything out according to locals, “After a Bura you can see Italy” across the Adriatic.

So, having experiencing my first Jugo wind am I noticeably more petulant, lethargic and glum? Actually no. For two days warm wind blew relentlessly through my hair. I was rained upon by fast-moving, water-laden grey clouds. I’m feeling aired-out and cleaner.

Posted by WayWayFar 05:48 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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