Cisternino (IT) - Italy'sd fantastical farmer sheds become holiday homes


Trulli need renovating every 100 to 150 years. It takes around a month to rebuild a cone and costs about 15,000 euros (£12,700). Do they have experts who renovate and rebuild trulli? "Oh yes," he grins. "They are called trullari. And I know a master trullaro."

He tells me he has always been passionate about trulli, but when he was young, nobody cared about them. "They were mostly abandoned ruins. People saw them as hovels for the poor."
"I became a trullaro about 20 years ago. Before that I was a tiler. When I began, there was just one trullaro left in this area. It was a dying trade. Now there are loads of us."
I wonder if d'Errico thinks tourists are mad for falling in love with old farmers' sheds? On the contrary, he says he is supremely grateful. "They gave us work and a bit of well-being - they brought our abandoned land back to life.

"Even if it has slowed down with the recession and heavy taxes on homeowners, our profession's still growing. I do not make a fortune but I do love my job. It is a beautiful thing that everyone wants a trullo."

According to Giuseppe Miccolis, another master trullaro specialising in historic trulli, "the problem is that anyone can set himself up as a trullaro without any formal training or qualification".

Miccolis, who comes from a long line of trullari, was born into the profession. "At the age of three, I used to play with the stones. At 14 I started working."

He considers his trade an art and a passion. But it is tinged with disappointment and frustration. "It is not just the unskilled self-styled trullari, it is the people who build illegally without respecting our landscape."

Nevertheless, Giuseppe is determined to preserve his beloved traditional craft. He has begun taking school children on walks, visiting historic trulli and explaining and demonstrating how they are built.

"I am hoping to inspire local kids to develop the passion my family passed on to me. I am going to organise walks for tourists too," he says. "Why don't you come back for one?" My eyes light up. "When?"