During our stay in a beautiful trullo in Corregia, courtesy of Holiday property Bond, we asked to visit a masseria, one of the local farms whose size and neat appearance are striking features of the Puglian countryside. Our site manager found Masseria Brancati for us - and we could not have done better. We were given a guided tour, in English, by the owner himself, Signor Rodio. He took us to stand under an olive tree, one of the hundreds on the farm, and asked us to guess its age. We failed, of course - by around two thousand years! He explained the testing that had proved the age of his groves and quoted a Roman writer as further evidence lof the historical significance of the whole locality. Then we were taken to one of the farm buildings where he opened a door and showed us stone steps leading to an enormous underground cave. There we were shown traces of the oldest olive press on site, probably pre-Roman and, just as amazing, a whole row of eight Roman pressing floors, each with their adjacent cistern. Our host explained how the place would have functioned in Roman times - the heat, the sweat, the hard work.
Other features of the site followed, including the 17th century Spanish church, stables and interlinked storehouses. Our trip ended with a highly impressive and instructive lesson in the different types of olive oil available to us nowadays, including how to taste and appreciate the extra-virgin olive oil for which the masseria is famous. Since we returned to the United Kingdom, I have looked up the farm's website, which is also equally well made. If you're in the area, visitng Ostuni and its marvellous old town and cathedral, make sure you also go to the Masseria Brancati - you might even be lucky enough to stay there.