The real Apulian masserie

A journey through ancient beauty and contemporary excellence.

They charm with an atmosphere that belongs to the past, age-old history and scenery that is of rare beauty, untouched over time. But they win over visitors because they have known how to look to the future and evolve, striving for excellence. Welcome to the Apulian masserie, or historic farms, where the very best Italian tradition lives alongside the future.

There are places that outlive time, eras and humankind. On their pavements, the cracks of those who have watched countless lives pass by; on the walls, the wrinkles of the old and wise; and in the empty rooms, the echo of tales that no one will ever tell. The masserie, their roots firmly planted in the red soil of the Puglia region, undoubtedly fall into this category. 

Those who have visited a masseria, know: on our first visit, we enter almost on tiptoes, with that deference we show to someone who has lived a lot longer than us, and have the feeling that the past cannot be ignored. And that is, in fact, the case. It’s difficult not to imagine it in the late 1800s, with stables full of horses, the hunched backs of the workers come evening, the tread of the farmer through the master’s apartments, that slow pace of the country…  

Today, in the hundreds of masserie that are dotted across Puglia, much has remained intact, not least the atmosphere, which we inhale in the large courtyards and rooms, the spaces giving off that dignified elegance and ancient charm of a rural world that is more alive than ever. Many things have changed though, and for the better. An attention to detail, an eye to the new and a desire to reinvent are all fruit of a spirit that is both conservative and innovative. The spirit of those who have realised that, in order to keep the past alive, we need to look to the future.

As always, the best way to understand is to see it for yourself. And so here are a few spots that will be useful the next time you find yourself on the road in Puglia.

Antica Masseria Brancati

If you fancy a trip into the past, you are in the right place. In Ostuni, inside the very old Masseria Brancati, everything screams history and tradition, from the old lookout tower to the olive oil mill that dates back to 1880, an anthem to the farming spirit of the place. 

But the real historic legacy of this former fortalice lies in the olive grove, of Roman origin, which boasts examples of olives from roughly 3000 years ago, cultivated by the ancient Messapi, the trees’ enormous trunks weaved and sculpted by the wind. The Antica Masseria Brancati, where visits are by appointment only, is not only past but also future. Today it is an exclusive bed and breakfast and an agritourism that produces a first-rate oil.  

Masseria Spina Resort

An imposing central building, as red as the earth it is built on; a large main farmyard, a melting pot of faces and dynasties, and then the ancient citrus groves, rural park and fortified towers. On arriving at the Masseria Spina Resort, in Monopoli, you feel irremediably transported back to a bygone age and have no desire to return to reality. Don’t think of it as an open-air mausoleum though, but for what it really is - a place full of life and a theatre for evocative events and parties under the stars.

Masseria Russoli

A masseria that is fully immersed in the surroundings of the Murgia dei Trulli, in the heart of the Mediterranean scrub, among age-old olive and carob trees and from which, on the clearest days, you can even see the Gulf of Taranto. There are many reasons to visit the Masseria Russoli, but if you want an unusual one, this place and its 192 hectares are home to 90 Martina Franca donkeys and the heritage conservation centre for this same species.

An extraordinary coast to coast

Winding roads overlooking the sea, small villages and dirt paths through the olive trees, where the Multistrada 950 demonstrates its full versatility. The journey to the heart of Southern Italy is about to begin.

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