I love the region of Puglia and we take frequent trips down to the “heel” of Italy’s boot. The rugged beaches, white washed villages, natural wonders, and amazing food are a few of the reasons I can’t get enough of the area. But I’m also drawn to the unique homes in Puglia – from the cone-topped trulli houses to the Masseria in the countryside. I really cannot recommend enough that you book yourself into a masseria as soon as possible.
What is a Masseria?
“Masseria” is an Italian word with no direct English equivalent, but they are essentially estates in rural Italy, most often found in Puglia, with some also found in the Sicilian countryside. A masseria is a complex of buildings and a farm surrounded by a wall. These types of fortified farms were mainly built by wealthy landowners in Puglia in the starting around the 8th century.
While their primary purpose was farmland – and you will find that most modern masserie (the plural of masseria) still have orchards, groves and gardens – these estates served many purposes. The masseria tend to built along ancient roads and aqueducts. Some may have started as communal farms, that evolved in feudal estates.
Because they were built along roads, they also served watering posts and trading spots through the 18th century.
These days, however, many rustic estates have been reborn as luxury guesthouses surrounded by nature.
Staying in a Masseria
Many modern masserie have found new use as whitewashed hotels with lots of quiet, Italian country charm. While you can find some that operate as B&Bs with rates around €100/night, many other have lots of subtle high end touches that come with a much higher price tag.
But a masseria can be an amazing way to experience a part of Italy that many people never see. You can enjoy cooking classes, excursions to wineries, biking and hiking trails and more. Since they are a bit isolated, some estates also have fantastic restaurants.
The only slight down side? Most masseria aren’t set on the beach. Some are only a few miles from the seaside, but since they are typically old farming states, they tend to be emersed in greenery. The tranquil setting is the perfect place to unplug and most now have pools or even spas for those who want to totally relax.
The photos in this post happen to be from a dreamy visit to Borgo San Marco outside of Ostuni.