Among the various types of masserie – a term derived from massa, the word used to describe a collection of rural buildings – the oldest are those which are centred around a square-based tower. Sited a short distance from the coast, these were military bastions against Saracen attacks.
This type of masseria is defined as fortified because it was designed to be defensive. Once it lost this function, it became the centre of the area’s diverse agricultural activities.
The fortified Masseria Gianferrante is cited in various texts because it is one of the most ancient masserie in the Ugento district and because the decorative stonework on the tower is extraordinarily beautiful:
“Built around 1200 (and thus one of the most ancient masserie in the Ugento district) by Mons. Giovanni FERRANTE, bishop of Ugento. This building conserves the style of the epoch in all its splendour, especially in the ornamental motifs which are particularly beautiful on the east face. … the internal cistern for the inhabitants’ water supply gave the possibility of long-term resistance in the event of attack, something which is not common to other masserie, where cisterns were sited within the enclosure or even outside it.” “Ugento and its territory” by Francesco Corgavlia.”
“In the register of possessions of the Benedictine monastery of Ugento for 1671, it was called Cianferante“
“The east and north prospects are very beautiful, embellished with a series of elegant corbels surmounted by cornices: the machicolations, interrupting the series of corbels, create a pleasing visual effect.”
“Masserie del Salento” by Cesare D’Aquino and Pierluigi Bolognini, ed. Capone.