The Italian Almanac


Sultan in a Trullo

The mayor of UNESCO World Heritage site Alberobello has played down rumours that the Sultan of Oman has set his sights on buying one of the Puglian town's famous trulli. Sultan Qabus bin Said al Said, who is in the southern region this week, visited the town on Tuesday and went shopping for souvenirs and local products. But mayor Bruno De Luca said he had ''not received any kind of request'' from the sultan over the purchase of a trullo - the small conical houses made from white limestone that give the town its fairy-tale atmosphere.

''I don't know where these rumours came from, but anyway we would never sell the public trulli that belong to the city council,'' De Luca said. ''They don't have a price. They are our heritage and our history''. De Luca also said around 95% of the trulli in the region belong to private individuals. Around 30 others are owned by the city council, with 17 of these forming the town's museum.

In March the Wall Street Journal reported that Alberobello and the surrounding region has come to be known as ''Trullishire'', taking over from Tuscany's ''Chiantishire'' in the property market as one of Italy's most popular locations for buyers from Germany and the United Kingdom.