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Path: Home Page > History

History

Masseria Pagani was first erected in the XVI century, as both a dwelling and a farm, in Nardò’s countryside. The  XVIII century grange complex, which originally covered 120 hectares, includes courts, gardens, a tiny  church, the oven (which seems to preserve still today the aroma of typical “wheel shaped” and “frisella” bread and that of biscuits), the “palmento” (where grapes were once pressed and the winemaking process started in large tanks carved in stone), the “merce” (which used to be devoted to cheese production and maturing), the stables, the porch, the hay-barn, the columbary tower (which was used as a shelter for the messenger pigeons and for the production of guano, excellent fertilizer) and the peculiar dry stone wall fencing featuring some anti-wolf devices. This complex surrounds the most ancient nucleus (XVI century) which is characterized by a single ramp external staircase leading to the fortified terrace (once refuge for eluding brigands and Saracens), decorated by pilaster strip framing and featuring two defensive machicolations situated above the entrance doors.

Prestigious residence of the Pagano family, Princes of Avetrana, it became the home of the Marquis De Noha, valet of the Pope. In the 19th century the estate was handed over to illustrious   otolaryngologist Dott. Pietro Villani, godfather to Don Francesco Conversano; the latter then became his trusted assistant and purchased the property in the ‘50s. Famous tenor Tito Schipa, a good friend of Villani’s, was a usual guest at the Masseria for his summer holidays.  During World War II thousands of Jews escaped from the Nazi roundups were hidden and sheltered at the Masseria (the same happened at other facilities in Nardò, Santa Caterina and Santa Maria al Bagno); it is for this reason that the town of Nardò was awarded the Gold Medal for Civilian Merit by the President of the Republic, Mr. Ciampi, in 2005.