"Tradition & Innovation"
Pantaleo Piccinno, a professional agricultural entrepreneur with a degree in engineering, and his wife Rita Esposito, a graduate in physical education, represent a generation of conscious operators who, combining tradition with technological innovation, is a necessary path to give agriculture a future .
Pantaleo and Rita, in 2002, are called to lead the Piccinno family business, transferring so much of the knowledge gained in previous work experiences into the agricultural entrepreneurial activity and putting their skills at stake, not without a good dose of courage!
The aspects relating to production, renovation work and management in its entirety are the responsibility of the engineer.
The most "creative" part is up to Rita: the catering section of the agritourism, teaching, selling, public relations.
The farm is located in the province of Lecce and consists of about 270 hectares; the cultivation addresses are mainly olive groves with 30,000 plants, but also cereals and horticulture. It is conducted with the method of organic farming since 1996.
In recent years, the commitment has strongly focused on closing the supply chain and developing related activities.
A new company center was built in Caprarica di Lecce, renovating an ancient farm, improving the tourist offer with catering and overnight -100 seats and 20 rooms-
The new oil mill is installed, capable of achieving very high standards of hygiene and quality and equipped with spaces for educational activities. A small mill is installed for the milling of its cereals (durum wheat and spelled).
In the countryside of Campi Salentina a Negramaro vineyard soil is purchased, from which an excellent wine is obtained both for restorative use and for sale in the farm shop.
The center has been made autonomous from an energy point of view by being equipped with a 180 kwp photovoltaic system and a heating system with a hazelnut-fired boiler (biofuel derived from the drying of pomace, a waste product from olive processing).
It obtains the DNV UNI EN ISO 9001 and 14001 certification.
It adheres to the Coldiretti association, entering the national network of “Campagna Amica” and “Fattorie del Sole” holiday farms.
It is present in the main sector guides (Slow Food, Gambero Rosso ...).
He has collected various prizes in the sector competitions.
THE FARM - from history to today -
The historical / etymological origin of the Masseria Stali
The first hypothesis is that stali can be one of the many words that derive from stabulum, used throughout the Mediterranean area for the naming of places or buildings. But the destiny of words is never linear and their semantic and phonetic evolution, although starting from common roots, can take different paths. And so, today the word that is most easily associated with stabulum, is not "stable", but stable, which to reach us has had to go a long way, passing through the Germanic languages, and making itself preceded or accompanied by stàvol, from which however it is distinguished, and then also from stali, that is met in the Venezie, as plural of stàvol.
Stalla, stàvol and stali are very close words for their common ancient derivation, but very different, for the semantics, for the diffusion and even for the glottological plant.
Stalla is feminine words (with plural: stalls). Stali, on the other hand, is masculine and invariant, and can therefore be used both for the singular and for the plural. And in the dolomitic range stali is interchanged with stàvol, which still survives, but is used only in the singular, since in the plural it became pearl point.
And if the stable was - and is - notoriously intended for animals, the stàvol or the stali are shelters, little houses for men or, in ancient Salento, temporary shelters.
Among all these words, the most fortunate is certainly stàvolo, which in the Friulian language indicates a small dwelling, a summer mountain residence, with stable and barn. And then also stali, which in Salento is the name of a restored Masseria which has now become a farmhouse.
Almost certainly the present Masseria owes its name to its origin, to be placed between the tenth and twelfth centuries, when in the current site there was a settlement destined for the resting of horses, riders and wagons used for transporting people and things. It was a real "post station", with a specific configuration, conveniently located at the intersection of some roads, of which at least one of primary importance.
In Roman times the post stations could have three possible denominations. They could be called "mutationes", if they allowed only the change of horses or, at the most, a short shelter for the people; or instead "mensiones" if they were equipped to offer also the custody of wagons and horses, and they took the name of "stationes" (in the singular: "statio") when you could ask for it and also get the service of
overnight stay for travelers.
It happens that even the word statio has evolved, becoming over time stallum or, in the Greek language, stalei (Σταλi) and, later, in griko, postalium and therefore, for successive mutations, stali.
There is therefore a tangle of semantic, linguistic and anthropological cultural facts that lead us to believe that they are coming from stabulum and / or statio, translating, in either case, the idea of accepting, of give shelter, to ensure hospitality.
We have reason to believe that where the Masseria Stali stands today, once there was indeed a post station or one or more buildings arranged in a court around one or more cisterns, carved into the outcrop rock.
It will not be a coincidence that the access road is still today called "via della cisterna vecchia".
It was close to one of the main Roman roads built in the Salento and more precisely on the edge of the Traiana Calabra Road, built by the emperor Trajan between the I and the II century. A.D. to connect the port of Otranto to that of Brindisi, passing through the greenhouses, to keep away from the marshy (and malarial) areas
of the coast. And in Caprarica, under the peak of the Galugnano greenhouse, the road that ran from Roca to Soleto also passed, to then reach Neretum (Nardò) and the current Santa Caterina. We were therefore at the intersection of two road axes, one arranged, roughly speaking, from south to north and the other from east to west. And here, presumably, other minor paths also intersected, which over time joined
to the great roads just remembered. Also because here you could take advantage of the presence, in the area, of cisterns, wells, pozzelle, “lakes” (system of water springs in hypogeum contexts), to the point to be accommodated in the territory of Caprarica (but we are already in the XIV century. ) spring water wells, some of which are reserved for the inhabitants of Sternatia and Martignano, who for this paid special gabelles to the Royal Court of Naples.
That the site of the Masseria Stali and, more generally, Caprarica itself were somehow strategic and neuralgic places compared to the coast of Otranto had already been understood for some time. At least from 1480 when the Turks, to take Otranto, they had decided to establish their bridgehead on the town of old Roca, putting it to iron and fire and forcing all its inhabitants to flee. Many of them, having passed the marshy area, had gone as far as Calimera and Caprarica which multiplied its inhabitants on that occasion. The new arrivals found hospitality in the farms and, among these, certainly also in the Masseria Stali, already present and flourishing, as attested by the land register, so as to be able to offer hospitality to a group of refugees.
Archaeologists are still looking for miliary stalks of the Via Traiana Calabra (which had a circular section of about 40 cm, as shown by those found so far). And anyway from the archival sources and from the first data coming from the field survey it was possible to draw the ancient path and it is not excluded that the site of the Masseria may have been a large post station, located where the mutatio ad
duodecim, not yet found by the archaeological survey, but certainly placed close to the Galugnano greenhouse and halfway between Hydruntum (Otranto) and Lupiae (Lecce), in an area between the current settlements of Castrì, Caprarica and Martignano, and in any case adjacent or corresponding to that now occupied by Masseria Stali.
And anyway, whether it is the mutatio ad duodecim of the Via Traiana or another station along the road coming from Roca, or an intersection with secondary roads, it is really probable that there was, since the late Middle Ages, a residence intended for the change of horses, and for the reception and refreshment of travelers.
And so it was, although in another form, around 1500, immediately after the Turks' capture of Otranto, when along with the travelers, it was necessary to welcome the refugees.
And so it shows that it still wants to be today, in changed conditions and in different logistic configurations and with different styles, but always in terms of a structure that is well integrated in the environmental context and open to the needs of the body and the spirit.