Vacation Inspiration: The Masserias of Southern Italy

Vacation Inspiration: The Masserias of Southern Italy

Eleanor Büsing
May 24, 2013

You know how going on holiday is relaxing and refreshing, but sometimes also opens up a whole new can of worms? Since visiting Puglia in southern Italy with my sister earlier this month, I have a new compulsion, and it involves obsessively researching every masseria in existence, and planning a fantasy/someday trip that somehow hits them all. As you can imagine, this takes up much of my time (and quite a chunk of my future earnings, I'd reckon).

What's a masseria, you ask? Traditionally used in the region of Puglia, the term is now common throughout southern Italy to identify an ancient farm or country house, which offers lodging for a limited number of guests. Most masserie are argoturismo, set in working farms producing everything from olive oil to wine to organic produce. Several also have top-quality restaurants, pools or access to beaches, and acres of countryside to explore, meaning that staying in one can entertain you for days. 

Aside from the beautiful setting, amazing homemade food and relaxation on offer, the style and decor of these buildings simply stole my heart. If you're looking to inject a little southern Italian style into your summer, read  

Tips for Masseria Style:

  • Mix It Up. 
    In the courtyard at our masseria, I counted no fewer than eight different kinds of chairs in one seating area. Some masserie lean toward antique furniture and some toward modern, but most have a carefree attitude to "matching."
  • Lots of White
    White is the color of summer in southern Italy. Expect to find whitewashed walls, painted or slipcovered furniture, sheer linen curtains, and other iterations of pale.
  • Bits of Blue (or Green) 
    While white reigns supreme, blue, from pale to cerulean, seems to be the unofficial "pop color" of Italy. Shutters, furniture, bedding, and accessories all appear regularly in this lovely shade. Outside, dark green is the shade of choice for shutters, gates and seating.
  • Scores of Seating
    The whole point of staying in a masseria is to relax and enjoy life, so the indoor and outdoor spaces tend to offer a lot of seating: a window seat here, a table and chairs in the garden there, an unexpected recliner amid the olive trees. 

Have you ever stayed in a masseria or other agroturismo (and if so, should I add it to my list)? How do you feel about their rustic, relaxed style? Nice for a holiday, or can you dig it for your home, too?

(Images: 1-6 Eleanor Büsing (at Masseria Il Frantoio), 7-9 Masseria Cervarolo, 10-11 Masseria Ciura,12-13 Masseria Cimino,14-15 Masseria Alchimia.)

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