The Amastuola Wine Resort in Puglia
Set in an 18th Century farm, a wine resort among the wonders of a garden vineyard
Amastuola farm is situated on a plateau, 210 meters above sea level near Crispiano, surrounded by about 170 hectares of land, mostly planted with vineyards and olive trees, bounded by dry-stone walls. Amastuola is a closed courtyard Masseria or farm, set around a large quad accessed by two doorways; Southward, a small door reveals a spectacular glimpse of the Gulf of Taranto. A small 18th Century church nestles in one corner.
The Masseria consists of a manor house on the first floor, farmer’s houses on the ground floor, a former location for cheese making, a crusher, cellar, stables and a sheep pen. Within this wonderful structure, a wine hotel has been built, completely surrounded by the wonders of the garden vineyard where you can taste the organic wines of the Amastuola wine cellar and the authentic flavors of Apulia.
The Farms of Puglia: magical places full of history and tradition
Apulian farms are places full of history and tradition. These constructions called Masseria, are typical of the region, and consist of a group of rural buildings. The name Masseria comes from the term “masserizie” (furnishings, furniture, farmer and pastoral tools owned by the Massaro) that were kept and protected within large stone buildings where peasants, shepherds and the owners lived. Often they became small villages especially during harvesting periods. The farmhouses have been preserved to faithfully reflect the charm of the past.
History of the Farm
The first document in which the Masseria appears is a goods inventory belonging to Giovanni Antonio Orsini, Prince of Taranto, drawn up in the first half of the 15th Century, in which is marked all the property of the Italian-Greek Abbey of San Vito Pizzo in Taranto. In the year 1500, the farm was granted a perpetual lease and then sold to Giovanni Vincenzo Ferrandinò who enlarged it, and also acquired the surrounding public lands. In 1652, Ferrandinò sold the farm for 2,000 ducats to Andrea D’Afflitto, a cleric from Taranto.
The farm experienced its largest territorial expansion and its greatest prosperity in the eighteenth century, when it included part of the ‘Lo Sperduto’ village (which included the lands of the Accetta, Scardino, and San Giovanni farms) and “Arecupo”, that the D’Afflitto family received the right to use in 1699 by Mayor Domenico Antonio Broja of the University of Massafra, for an annual income of only 6 ‘Carlini’. This last area was removed from Massafra’s public domain. Later the farm passed to Diego D’Afflitto, who squandered large sums of money in gambling, but it then went through a period of revival and prosperity when it passed to Andrea D’Afflitto Junior, who modernised the facilities introducing new crops and adding new buildings, such as a sheep pen and an olive oil ‘mill’. In 1773, D’Afflitto gave his entire fortune to Saverio D’Ajala from Taranto, in exchange for an annual living allowance of 1,200 ducats, in order to pay back the generosity with which he had supported the family in times of crisis.
Having rethought the decision, D’Afflitto tried to regain possession of the property through the court, but despite the Court’s seizure of the farm and despite it being in his will, the farm was left to the D’Ajala family until the middle of the 20th Century. Since 2003, the farm has been owned by the KIKAU Group, and is the property of the Montanaro family from Massafra. (Historical research by Prof. Cosimo Mottolese).
Amastuola: An Apulian farm in the Regional Park “Terra delle Gravine“
The farm is immersed in the Regional Park ‘Terra delle Gravine’ and is part of the area of the ‘One hundred Farms’ in Crispiano. It is positioned to the south of the location where the precious ‘Ori di Taranto’ were found and is a few hundred meters away from the Necropolis of Accetta with its famous Paleolithic Dolmens. To the east, it borders on the natural feature of Triglie Ravine. The surrounding area is rich with natural vegetation; you can find maritime pines, rosemary, thyme, wild strawberry, blackberry, and the country rose ‘Calaprice’ – that create together a unique set of fragrances and aromas. Historically agricultural, the area is characterised by the cultivation of vines from far back in ancient times. During the last archaeological excavation, images have been found of vines and grapes on Greek wine amphorae.
The places of Masseria Amastuola between Greeks and Indigenous
The agricultural history and the viticulture tradition of the area where Amastuola farm is situated, date back to the Magna Graecia Age, as evidenced by decades of archaeological investigations carried out on its land. The Greeks arrived by sea, then crossed a couple of miles to the source of the river Tara. From this area of natural spring water (which is still used today for bathing but at that time was surrounded by marshes), the Greeks walked a few miles further, until they reached the plateau of Amastuola where they settled. Archaeological excavations, which began in 1988, have found a site from the Magna Graecia Age, surrounded by an Agger. Since 2003, the year in which the farm was purchased by one of the Montanaro family companies, research and excavations have always been supported, continuing on an annual basis in the area under the control of the Superintendant for Puglian Archaeological Heritage, by the the University of Amsterdam’s Centre for Archaeology. A book has recently been edited by Gert-Jan Burgers and Jan Paul Crielaard entitled ‘Greci e indigeni a L’Amastuola’ that presents the results of the research and studies.
The Masseria accomodation: Wine Tourism in Apulian Farm
The finely restored Amastuola farmhouse, has been re-designed to become a landmark for both lovers of wine, and the beautiful landscape of Apulia. The conservative style of restoration being used on the main body of the farm will respect the traditional use of materials. Intended to be a stylish wine hotel, within the building there will be two tasting rooms, a cellar, a library and a restaurant where it will be possible to enjoy the taste of Amastuola’s organic wines with a number of Puglia’s more traditional dishes. Inside the ancient church, there will be a small ‘Magna Graecia’ museum where artifacts from the ‘Guarini’ collection (owned by the KIKAU group for several years), will be on display. Within the old stables, a conference room for events and business meetings will be built, and there will be 19 rooms built in part on the first floor of the main building of the farm, and the rest on the ground floor in an area originally used as a sheep pen. Extreme care and attention to detail has been exercised in order to give to provide the vineyard with a structure destined to become in tourism and culture terms, a point of reference in Puglia, and give visitors to the vineyard, the possibility to enjoy the unique magic of Amastuola.