What is a

masseria ?

A masseria is a fortified farmhouse found on the estates in the Puglia region and typically built in the 16th century. It is a complex of buildings generally running along two sides of a central high-walled courtyard. These buildings include the landowner’s dwelling-house (generally located on the first floor), the farmers’ houses (on the ground floor), the stables, the barns and the tool barns.

A large solid wooden gate allowed carriages to get into the central courtyard.

The first masserie did not have many windows, and the few windows opening onto the external side of the building were characterised by openings, called machicolations, right above them: from the roof, big stones were dropped down through them to keep off invaders.

In recently built masserie, the stone wall is not as high while the courtyard is larger. Also, over the centuries, many original masserie have been structurally modified and, in some cases, original features have been lost. Some masserie have been converted into luxurious villas and farmers’ houses and facilities have often been moved somewhere else on the estate.