Masseria Don Luigi. Puglia Italy
My train gets into Bari, the port city of Italy’s southern region of Puglia located on the Adriatic Sea. It’s late evening and I’m glad to be picked up by friends who then drive me to their rented apartment in Monopoli.
Monopoli is a charming, quiet town about 40 kms southeast of Bari and is best known for its Baroque Monopoli Cathedral also known as the Basilica of the Madonna della Madia or Santa Maria della Madia. This imposing cathedral was erected near the site of a Roman temple and burial site and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
According to an interesting story, after work began on this cathedral in 1107, it was supposedly halted for the lack of roof beams. A miracle then occurred in 1117 when a raft carrying an icon of the Madonna drifted into the harbour. The raft beams were used to construct the roof. Subsequently, after various sieges, work was completed in 1772 and the cathedral was declared a minor basilica in 1921.
But I’m here for an even more important occasion…the destination wedding of a very special couple.
As family and friends gather from near and afar, we check into the stunning Masseria Don Luigi, in the middle of an olive grove. The traditional Apulian building has been restored, while maintaining its original features and traditional charm.
In Puglia, during the 16th to 18th centuries, a fortified farmhouse or country house located on an estate was called a masseria, where land barons stored their food, farm animals and other possessions.
Most of these estates comprise of olive groves and as the saying goes, “olive trees don’t just dot the landscape in Puglia, they define it”. They are so important here in the heel of Italy’s boot, that locals use words like “patrimony” and “cultural heritage” when describing them. With roughly about 60 million olive trees, Puglia produces 40 percent of all of Italy’s olive oil. These trees are thousands of years old and the twisted, tortuous tree trunks seem to hold the secrets of their past.
The Masseria Don Luigi is perfect for this destination wedding. Its well-manicured grounds are dotted with flowering plants, a pool, an outdoor bar, and of course, the distinctive olive grove. The rooms, some of which are the original 18th century buildings, are whitewashed to reflect a typical Mediterranean look.
As flowers are unloaded and preparations for the wedding celebrations begin, the Masseria and its gardens are transformed into a magical wonderland, admired by all and a celebration that will definitely not be forgotten!
The olive tree of Borgagne – Melendugno (Puglia) is probably the oldest olive tree in Italy – between 3,000 and 4,000 years old – is found in Puglia’s Piana degli Ulivi Millenari: its olives are used for the production of Terre d’Otranto PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil.