House Renovation

A little history

The Masseria had been abandoned for 28 years, after the previous owner died, when we bought it in 2013.  The oldest part of the house dates from the early 17th Century and originally served as a chapel serving the Chiesa San Francesco alla Sardella.  It was built for Don Giulio Palmieri, the local parish priest and would have been used by the local agricultural workers living in the area.  At the time the chapel also included an additional parcel of land measuring 455 tomoli (an old agricultural land measure) with 367 sheep and 26 oxen.

In September 1672, the building was sold to the Convent of Clarisse, based in Naples, for 3,300 ducats and was used as a religious retreat.  It was subsequently bought, on 26 May 1706, by the Monastry of Santa Chiara, also based in Naples.

In 1809, after the suppression of religious orders, the building was sold into private ownership.  We believe that it was extended in 1874, the date on the keystone above our front door.

What is a Masseria?

A Masseria is essentially the name given to a fortified farmhouse in Southern Italy and is mainly associated with Puglia, Calabria and Sicily. A Masseria would typically comprise a complex of buildings protected by a high surrounding wall. The buildings would often include the main farmhouse for the owner's family, other dwellings for farm labourers / servants, a small chapel, stables for livestock (usually horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens) and storerooms for crops and equipment. Many Masseria in Puglia also had pigeons for sending messages and / or a watch tower with a bonfire on top to send warnings of potential raiders / tax officers (Masseria Altemura nearby has a perfect example of one of these towers).

I guess that in the UK, the nearest equivalent would be a cross between a Farmhouse and a Manor house.


When we bought the Masseria, there were no windows, no doors and no services (water, sewage, electricity or gas).  Worse the foundations were non-existant, the walls were beginning to tilt outwards and it failed to comply with national earthquake protection regulations! 

The roof for the kitchen (we think previously used as a store room attached to the main house) had collapsed, probably after a fire, and had several small saplings growing through what should have been the floor. The walls that were still standing were all on the brink of collapse.

Most of the internal walls had been plastered (in some places the plaster seemed to be the only thing keeping the walls in tact!) and almost all of the original flagstones had been stolen meaning that most of the floors were just rubble or bare earth.


The first priority was to make the Masseria structurally sound whilst remaining true to its 400 year history.

The kitchen needed to be completely rebuilt, including a new vaulted ceiling to match the original.

As part of the structural work, metal bars needed to be added to pull the walls back together. 

And of course we needed to completely rewire, replumb and tile the entire house.

Finally, all the plaster was removed and stonework cleaned on the walls & ceilings.


The outside has been finished to match the traditional "look and feel" of a 17th Century Masseria.

Our kitchen blends traditional design with modern units & finishes.

The walls and ceiling combine exposed stone with new plaster.

The new tiles cover our underfloor heating and mirror the colour of the exposed stone.

Sourcing lights and fittings to match the style and history was particularly challenging.

But of course nothing is ever really finished!  We've already added en-suite bathrooms for the girls and hopefully will add an outside veranda so that we can sit outside in the summer in some shade.