The farmstead of Masseria San Nicola was once a flourishing productive centre in the Territory of Patù, a small town in the Lecce province in the southern most part of the Salento.
The farm was built in 1500 by the De Salvo family. It was sold to the Romanos whose family members included Liborio Romano, the last prime minister of King Francesco II of Borbone, a key figure in the unification of Italy. In fact there was a friendship between the former and Cavour who allowed Garibaldi to enter Napels “without firing a shot”. Liborio Romano wrote his memories at the Masseria San Nicola during his summer residence. After the marriage of De Salvo-Romano in 1949, the farmstead returned to the De Salvo family through inheritance and has remained their property since then.
Until the mid 60’s the farm continued its agricultural activities of breeding and the cultivation of olives, vineyards ,tobacco, wheat and barley as well as fruit orchards. The farm was later abandoned when the farmers emigrated. The masseria is formed by a central core which was once the owners private quarters and on the sides of the structure there are rooms that were used for the production of cheese, sheep folds and store rooms. Joining the main building is a courtyard with a chapel dedicated to San Nicola. Mass was celebrated in this chapel up until the 50’s. This courtyard was the meeting place for the farmers in the evenings after a long day’s work. The farmers lived in “pajare” or dry stone dwellings similar to “nuraghi” which were located in the surrounding countryside.
Towards the end of the 80’s Francesco De Salvo decided to transform the masseria into an agriturismo. Finally in 1993 the main building was restored and the first guests given hospitality. The restoring of the rest of the structure was finished in the following years with single room living areas each complete with a cooking corner and bathroom. A small campsite was set up in a nearby field. The main activity of the masseria now is the cultivation of olives, fruit, and lavender as well as the up keeping of courtyard animals.
A must to see in Patù is the famous “Centopietre”-One Hundred Stones- which is a unique monument dating to about the IX century, the Romanesque church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist near a megalithic monument, the lovely town with its church of San Michele of the 1500’s with visible traces of tombs and silos that conserved the wheat harvest (Patù was founded on the flourishing ancient town of Vereto ) and last the Roman town hall where there was the production of coins. You can visit nearby Santa Maria di Leuca with its beautiful Liberty villas .Leuca’s sanctuary is where the two seas meet; Barbarano called “Little Leuca” with its hypogeum, a stop for devoted pilgrims headed for the sanctuary; Alessano with its stately buildings and the giudecca area; Presicce with its numerous hypogeums, castle and beautiful architecture… every small town of the Salento is a gem worthy of your visit. Then there is Gallipoli, Otranto, Corigliano, Lecce etc. The fine golden sand beaches that begin just after Torre Vado, at Posto Vecchio- Pescoluse and extend for 20 km. are an exotic paradise, especially if you come during the low season.
The Salento cuisine is simple and genuine based on vegetables ,pulses, homemade pasta prepared in a variety of ways. Fish has a main place in the menu especially in the coastal towns. The wines produced in the area are of the best quality, malvasia ,primitivo ,and negroamaro. The typical dishes can be tasted not only in restaurants but also at the “sagre” that are held in most small towns during the summer seasons and are greatly appreciated by tourists.
For those who are interested in deep sea diving, we can organize excursions with professionals that are equipped with all that is needed for diving. We recommend a boat trip to visit the caves along Leuca’s seafront. Nearby there are tennis courts, horseback riding, and football fields. For those who love walking, the small country roads lined by dry stone walls, among the olive trees, are fabulous for strolling.