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.