Seeing as we were in Puglia, home to endless olive groves, we decided it was time to pay one a proper visit. We stopped in Masseria Brancati, just outside of Ostuni for a tour and a tasting and were lucky enough to have the place pretty much to ourselves.
When even the car park has stunners like this, you know you’re in for a treat.
Things kicked off with an amble around the groves where almost all the trees are at least 2,000 years old. Knarled, ancient giants that have stood the test of time and still produce canopies of leaves sheltering sweet and delicious olives.
Our guide was wonderful, so passionate about the production and history behind the making of olive oil. At the farm they romantically have names for the different trees, depending on faces and scenes they see twisted into the barks of the trees.
The grove is very Roman in design, with the trees forming neat straight lines, all a specific distance from each other to allow the roots plenty of room to sprawl in search of water underneath the parched earth.
The oldest tree on the farm dates back at least 3,500 years and is truly wizened, even the stones holding up the trunk are hundreds of years old. Whilst it may not be the most prolific, it still manages to produce enough olives for a few litres of oil.
A lone almond tree stands amidst the olive trees and we had our first taste of fresh almonds, picked straight from the tree and cracked open on the old stone wall.
After we’d seen the growing process it was time to see how the olive oil has been produced throughout the centuries.
This would once have had a mule attached to it, turning the wheel to press out every last precious drop of olive oil.
The windows are a new addition, once it would have been dark, hot and cramped with men living down there for months at a time, working day and night to get the oil ready.
As production increased, more wells were built to collect and store the oil. Whilst it may not look particularly hygienic, for centuries the oil here was produced for fuel rather than food.
Luckily they realised how delicious the oil was a couple of hundred years ago and began producing it to eat, with the help of the newer machinery.
Now all part of the museum this machinery obviously no longer aides production but is still rather beautiful.
There are a couple of rooms if you want to stay onsite but no pool or restaurant as they want to keep the feel of the Masseria intact.I think these surroundings more than make up for that though, don’t you?