In 1990 Raffaele Cazzetta and his wife Giorgia Marrocco decided to buy the Masseria Alti Pareti, which dates back to the eighteenth century. Immersed in a unique park of secular and millenary olive trees in the countryside of Palmariggi, the Masseria is only a few kilometres from Otranto, one of the capitals of Salento and Mediterranean culture.
Raffaele Cazzetta: a biography
The Cazzetta family has a secular experience in agriculture. Raffaele’s grandfather, Feliciano Cazzetta, began the olive growing activity, which continued through the years and generations, in the 300-hectare farm in 1899. The arrival of the next generation brought new skills to the olive growing business and the grandchildren, in turn, brought to the Cazzetta company new lifeblood, to bring further improvements to the manufacturing, packaging, management and marketing of the product. Today Cazzetti extra virgin olive oil is one of the most appreciated oils on the international market, thanks to the perfect mix of tradition, quality, harvesting techniques, extraction and state of the art production. The whole process is governed by a profound respect for nature.
Giorgia Marrocco: a biography
Giorgia Marrocco’s destiny is indissolubly linked to Pimar. The family company dates back to 1880 and Unioncamere (Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce) has included it amongst Italy’s historical companies. For over four generations the company has quarried and manufactured Lecce limestone, Salento’s premier material, which for centuries has been used to forge Lecce’s baroque style. Over the years the company has evolved to include new activities. From the building sector it approached the world of architecture, which in turn opened the way to the arts. The arrival of Giorgia Marrocco, and her two brothers, marked the beginning of a period of continuous research and experimentation. The aim was to discover all the potential of a stone that, due to its extraordinary luminosity and malleability, lends itself perfectly to art, design and creativity. Collaborations with universities and polytechnics have been set up as well as synergies with internationally renowned artists and architects to create works of art that have made history. One of the many collaborations was with Bilbao’s Alhóndiga Museum, designed by Philippe Starck. The museum features colonnades made by Pimar that recall the Lecce baroque style, but in a contemporary way. Other collaborations have included artists and starchitects such as Steven Holl, Sacchetti, Álvaro Siza, Hidetoshi Nagasawa and Michelangelo Pistoletto.
The Alti Pareti philosophy
With the Masseria Alti Pareti Raffaele Cazzetta and Giorgia Marrocco wanted to bring together their combined heritage and different, but complementary traditions, and a shared pursuit of excellence, to create a new project driven by a love of beauty, quality and genuineness.
The Cazzettas’ project was to create a unique integrated structure that not only offered excellent products from its territory, but also hospitality, training and conference facilities. The idea, though, was even more ambitious: for the Masseria to become an outpost of Mediterranean culture, safeguarding, and at the same time promoting, the secular and millenary olive trees.
Thanks to their commitment and passion, these ideas have become reality.
Art in the shade of secular olive trees
The idea for a sculpture park amongst the millenary olive trees was the result of the synergies with great artists and their love for the Salento. The location has been designed for this territory and planned by such talented creative minds, so that its universal appeal crosses the borders of the Salento and attracts the entire world. The starting point of this journey is the symbols and the typical material of the culture of these locations: the olive tree and the Lecce stone.
The Alti Pareti park, already protected by the Associazione Amici dell’Olivo secolare, is the setting for the realisation of the Cazzettas’ dream of marrying art with the old man of the Mediterranean, the olive tree, which has since time immemorial evoked religiousness, nature, coexistence of cultures and the union of sky and earth.
With their incredibly shaped trunks, these natural wood sculptures are tutelary deities of an ancient and eternal land, the Salento, where the rural dimension is fused with the millenary culture that has over the centuries been influenced by the most disparate cultures: Messapian, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Saracens, Aragonese, Bourbons, to become the bridge between West and East.
In the Masseria Alti Pareti this unique heritage will be promoted by installing works in Lecce limestone created by internationally renowned artists such as Álvaro Siza, Hidetoshi Nagasawa and Michelangelo Pistoletto. The park will become a home of art and culture to represent a south that is anchored to its roots but at same time in contact with the Mediterranean.
Eating is a cultural act
Culture is also agriculture. Taking a leaf from the tradition of innovation that has driven the Cazzetta company, the Masseria Alti Pareti produces not only sublime olive oil from the park’s secular olive trees, but also six wines from the best local grape varieties. The range of products also includes preserves, pickles, pickled olives, olive paté, jams and other products made with seasonal local produce.
Culture as training
Visitors can see the creation of these products in the Masseria’s large laboratory. In fact one of the driving principles behind Raffaele Cazzetta and Giorgia Marrocco’s new adventure is training. The cookery courses will not only be aimed at tourists, but also at professionals of the agricultural and food sector, such as chefs, specialist journalists and national and international buyers. Each course will be planned for the various requirements and will increase an awareness and appreciation of the Salento’s culinary tradition. The conference facilities will be used to host meetings, seminars and high profile presentations that contribute to the agricultural and food debate, and not only.
Beautiful hospitality is culture
Last but not least hospitality. Because knowing how to enjoy your time is culture. The large hall and the rooms of the Masseria Alti Pareti will make guests feel at home. Those that decide to spend some time in this enchanted place, immersed in the millenary park, will find a rural atmosphere that is, at the same time, open to different cultures. Strolling amongst the secular olive trees or in the typical courtyard of Arabic-Siculian Masserias, you will be captivated by the magic of the Salento made of Middle-Eastern light, red earth, cicadas, baroque, tarantella folk dances, rupestrian churches, byzantine frescoes, mysterious caves, the blue Mediterranean sea and much more.