In the midst of a plane of centuries old olive trees which surrounds Ostuni, protected by strict laws imposed since the reign of Frederick II of Sweden, one of the oldest masseria farmhouses can be found. This masseria, Brancati, whose founding dates to the early Medieval or even the Roman period is evidenced by the presence of a very old underground olive mill (see photo), while the above ground constructions date to the X-
The noble Brancati family, originally from the Veneto region, arrived in Ostuni in the fourth century to buy olive groves, produce olive oil and then to trade it on the Genovese and Venetian markets.
The masseria was listed in the aristocracy register until this register was abandoned in the beginning of the seventeenth century. In about the fifteenth century the Brancati family added to the masseria by building other constructions above and around the underground olive mill. These structures were used as habitations, stables and barns and later the family constructed high walls that fortified the site. The walls were provided with walkways, gun ports and a tower which is currently incorporated in the living quarters which were enlarged between the XVIII and the XIX centuries.
In 1768 a chapel was built next to the main structure by the Piscopo family. Inside, a perfectly preserved, rococo style altar made out of soft stone can be seen. The facade of the mansion, with its three entrée ways and refined mouldings dates to the seventeenth century. The upper floor was finished in the eighteenth century by the then masseria owner Don Domenico Rodio in a neoclassic style.
In the beginning of the 1800s the Rodio family took over the masseria from the Piscopo family and in 1880 had a new olive mill with grinding stones (see photo) built in front of the main structure. Currently in this building, which houses the Museum dedicated to olive oil farming culture, the perfectly preserved mill stones are kept.
For six generations the Rodio family has produced extra virgin olive oil and now they also have opened the masseria’s doors to guests from all over the world (the original living quarters have been transformed into three accommodations, leaving the other structures and its architectonic features unaltered). Guided tours, including a tasting of the olive oil, are organized and mini courses on the characteristics of the oil are held.