After our excursion to the beach, we returned to our hobbit house. As we opened the door, a note fluttered out. It was from Tim, inviting us to come with him later to a nearby masseria (farmhouse) that produces its own olive oil. A friend of his would drive us all in her car — just meet them at Caffé Trieste on the corner of the piazza.
The excursion sounded fun. At the appointed place and time, we met Tim and his friend, an Italian woman who also spoke perfect English. She drove us to Masseria Asciano, an agriturismo a mere four kilometers (about two and a half miles) from Ostuni.
Agriturismo is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of agriculture and tourism. Farmhouses have been converted, renovated, or expanded to create farm “resorts” where guests can experience life in rural Italia. The food served at these houses is usually grown or produced right there on the farm. Often, they provide an opportunity for guests to participate in the activities of the farm.
Masseria Asciano was such a place. Not only does it offer accommodations in a peaceful, relaxing setting, it actively produces high quality olive oil. The grounds cover over 170 acres of olive trees — 12,500 of them! These gorgeous trees are the lords of this land: ancient, gnarled, knobby trunks topped with masses of silvery-green leaves. They are regal, worthy of great respect.
A young woman met us as we stepped out of the car. Although she spoke no English, she set about giving us an olive oil tasting tour. I was pleased to find I could understand most everything she said.
The masseria was lovely. A long portico lined with huge glossy terracotta urns led into the large tasting room. Inside, a table was set up with several bottles of different types of olive oil, a stack of tiny plastic cups alongside. Our host explained the production process, from tree to table. Then, describing the subtleties of the different varieties, had us taste each. The oil was sublime.
Back in town after our brief tour, Gino and I said arrivederci to Tim and Angela, then made a beeline to the centro storico. This was where we wanted to spend our last evening in Italia.