Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Italy 2015: Where We Stayed

Our family took an adventure, and our camera came with.  I intend to break up the posts about the adventure by these sub-categories:  Where We Stayed, What We Did, Things We Saw.

Where we stayed:  I booked this trip based on the farthest south (sun and warmth) we could get with the least amount of money on the exact dates I needed.  Ryanair was the winner with a total cost for 4 round-trip tickets to BARI, ITALY for under $700. Once our arrival airport was determined, I contacted a travel agent for quotes on all-inclusive resorts and rental cars.  But with the price quotes I got, and the reviews of the resort offerings, I decided to book my own trip, and spent the next few days/weeks scouring TripAdvisor.com, Booking.com, and other reviews of the area.  Attractions, Lodging, Restaurants...

There was no lack of beautiful places to stay.  But I ultimately chose the Masseria Spina Resort, MONOPOLI, Italy, about 30 minutes south of Bari. I chose this location based on it's proximity to the sea and local attractions, the wonderful reviews I read, and the smallness of the operation.  I am attracted to family-based business, likely because of my own small-business-owner heritage (thanks to my father, father-in-law, and grandfather)!

We LOVED everything about the trip.  The quiet time. The very empty schedule.  The time together. The sights, smells, sounds. The hosts.  The accomodations.

I won't try to sell the place to you by listing it's many positive points, because their web site does this so well.  I'll just show you my favorite pictures, and perhaps include some commentary in the captions.  That'll be enough for today!

The original building was simply a tower.  It has changed considerably since then.

This is the estate's church.  Built in the 1700's.


Inside, we found lots of unique architectural details:

Bedroom 1 
Bedroom 2

The light switches were all like this.  Most of the lights were hardwired this way. The skeleton key let us IN!


This view of the chapel was just outside our dining room.
The living/dining area.  The dining table is behind the couch.  The kitchen is up the stairs to the left, and one of the bathrooms is up the stairs to the right.
Note the rug. You'll see these again, but in their more historically-appropriate usage.

Every door. Every window.  Has a hook and eye. So when the wind blows doors won't slam.
I adore this way better than door stops!
So that's our cozy-homy place.  But the Masseria itself was a working olive-oil farm up until about 40 years ago.  There are trees that are at least 1500 years old.  There are caves that were once homes, then churches, then olive oil presses, now mysterious vaults... Our host, Marco, took us around to help us understand what we discovered a few days prior.  The next few photos are a combination of the two different days we wandered around.


This is what they saw through the wall.

Olive groves, the Adriatic Sea just beyond.







Here's the oldest tree, most likely 1500 years old.  The tower in the background was acquired from the family next door in the 1700's through marriage. More photos later. 



This is one entrance to the ancient Olive Proccessing area.

Recognize these ropes? Sure, they make nice rugs, but they are actually part of the ancient olive pressing process. They are layers of filters, which would be weighted by wood. The oil filtered down into the round grooves in the rocks (by the Chuck Taylor shoe), then drained down the trough into the vats for collection (by the black shoes).  
Marco loves the tree over the man-made cave doors.  He described it as Man and Nature co-exsisting in harmony. 

The "old" tree again.

Through the tree!

This is the second tower, a good example of how the larger Masseria looked prior to the many additions.

A private grove, so a family could be self-sufficient if under seige.



Here's a few of US living where we were staying...

I may actually print and FRAME this!




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