enworld piece - I thought they forgot about me. color tonight
16 June, 2008
Here's where Dear Wife and I stayed most of last week. It's the Masseria Maccarone in the very southern town of Savalettri. It's a tiny coastal hamlet near the boot heel of Italy, between Bari and Brindisi on the Adriatic (eastern) coast. Two main demographics here: fishing folk on the sea, and farmers cultivating acres and acres of old olive groves. The masseria is a common thing down here--it's a farm that's laid out like a micro village, with a fancy main house for the Padrone (see "The Leopard" aka "Il Gatopardo" with Burt Lancaster, or, barring that, "1900"), and a series of surrounding buildings that housed the workers, the kitchens, the warehouse and factory where the olive oil was made. But a lot of these masserie (plural) converted their worker's quarters into something like hotel rooms, and invite visitors under the banner of agritourism. In our case the big manor house was still the residence of the "ruling" family, and it was not where we stayed (in fact, it was off-limits!)--we were in the modest building sketched-in on the left, with the bell tower. Our particular room used to be the kitchen, and included a huge hearth and an 18th century version of the sort of bread/pizza oven you see at California Pizza Kitchen. Fun!
The buildings have been around since 1754, and the property has been a working olive farm since before then. Wait until I post images of some of the trees--they looked older than rocks!
Also, this particular masseria is famed in the region for producing the very best olive oil around. They produce a limited quantity each year, and they number each bottle. It's hard to get if you don't show up at the masseria in person (which a steady stream of visitors did throughout our stay). after careful deliberation, we bought a bottle of their "D.O.P." (a gov't designation for the best quality), and gritted our teeth when the bill was handed to us ...it was all of 7 Euro, or about 11 bucks, for a half-litre. That's value! And I can report the stuff is transcendently good.
A sign of the region's devotion to olive oil: when ordering a salad you are brought a little caddy that carries three options for "dressing"--they are three different strains of straight olive oil. And that's it--no vinegar, no aceto balsamico--down here they just spritz their greens with the extra virgin olive oil (Rachel Ray, where are you?), and have at it.
How hard core is that??
Just looked at the drawing: WOW IS THAT PERSPECTIVE WRONG ON THE WELL. It looks Pho-Sho'ed in (it wasn't). But the whole thing was a piecemeal job...there was a lot less time to draw than I expected. Carls and Cheryl had about 30 people come over from the 'States. About 20 were at our masseria, and another ten (plus Carls + Cheryl) stayed down the road a mile or two at Carlo's parents' masseria, which overlooked the beach. Between all the shuttling of people to and from activities, and some exploring of our own, I never did finish this drawing.