Masseria Montenapoleone – Heaven In the Middle of Nowhere

It was early December and I was really depressed. Work was not going as expected although plans were in place to change things for the better. A suggestion and a weeks pass from the Mrs enabled me to book an 8 day cookery course at Masseria Montenapoleone, a restored fortified organic farm in Pezze di Grecco, southern Italy. Flights were arranged online with AlItalia, via Milan on the out trip and Rome on the way back. There were other airlines available that went direct, but my choice was worth it as the leg room on the A320 was first class.

The course was booked via golearnto, and is a combination of practical lessons, and ‘foodie’ trips to local restaurants, producers and markets. On arrival at Bari airport, local to the Masseria, I was greeted by my ‘driver’ Angelo who sped us to the Masseria in about 45 minutes. Angelo manages a local restaurant and filled me in with local history on the way.

OMG, was an amazing place. This is NOT a tourist destination, it has charm, tranquility, and is set in the middle of nowhere, just what I needed. I was met by the local ‘agent’ Maura, who had been in contact via email since the booking, to make sure I was collected at the right time.We went to reception to collect the keys and I was taken to my ‘apartment’ Arancio, and told about breakfast arrangements and given a general tour.

We then sat down by the pool and was served Prosecco, and some local nibbles including the largest capers I have ever seen, olives and a small bread like coiled snake called Taralli. Giuliano is the owner and he joined us for over an hour,  to explain the history of the Masseria, and answer any questions I had about farming, organic systems and agro-tourism in general.

Dinner was set for 8 pm, what an experience. Local cured meats and cheese for the 1st course with home made chutneys, the onion was particular good. Followed by a beautiful home made pasta, with a green pepper and cream sauce, then another plate with shaved fennel, carrot, melon all organic and tasted wonderful. I was sat on a large communial table with an English couple and their 6 month old daughter as we ate and talked about the Masseria food and wine. Giuliano is an amazing host, he joined us for a while and continued to explain his philosophy and about his love for food and wine.

Dessert was a beautiful selection of fruits, grown on the farm, followed by tea and a glass of Grappa that I could not resist.

So off to bed, and looking forward to the 1st day.  Arrividerci for now.

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