The Masseria, formerly called “Porcari della Corte” [“Royal Pig breeders”], belonged to the Caracciolo del Sole family, a famous noble family from Naples.
On March 14th 1670, Francesco Caracciolo, an aristocrat from Naples, married Costanza, the daughter of Gianbattista Moles, Baron of Turi. Their sons Gaetano and Troiano, the one being the first Duke of Venosa, and the other Bishop of Nola, inherited the masseria which they devolved to Don Vito Petrelli, prelate of the Church of Turi, who bought the above-mentioned estate of 340 “vignali” (140 hectares) by notarial act drawn up by Notar Azzolini. Moreover, he bought a part of the lands of the Masseria, known as “Parco di Suso”, with an extension of some 85,5 “vignali” (about 34 hectares), given as a dowry of a Chaplaincy founded by Gianbattista Moles, maternal ancestor of Gaetano and Troiano Caracciolo, with the obligation to provide six Masses a week and with the demand of one “carlino” (nearly half a ducat) on behalf of the Church of S. Maria di Terra Rossa, which is in the Church of Turi. On September 10th 1716, Don Vito donated the whole Masseria to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament provided that, as explicitly stated in the will, the income was also devoted to the celebration of Masses for the souls in Purgatory. In this period the Masseria was also called “Il Santissimo” [“the Most Holy”]. In 1741, after the Agreement between the Borbonic Kingdom and the Church, the administration and control of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament were assigned to a mixed court, as it turned to both a charity and an institution of worship. During the French decade, in the Reign of Naples the abolition of the lands of the Church was carried out, with the aim of redistributing properties. But the State assets were sold to creditors through the Sinking Fund in order to reduce the public debt resulting from the payments of interests due to owner of coupons, who choosed to be registered in the big book instead of purchasing State assets.
This being the historical frame, on February 8th 1821, the Masseria was definitely acquired, through auctions, by Bartolomeo Franchini, Counsellor of the Intendenza [Revenue Office] of Terra di Bari, with the annual income of 739,40 ducats, registered in the Big Book of public debt. In the sale purchase agreement, as to the holdings of the Masseria, a “farm building with ‘lamione’ [ancient covered place used for people and sheep], well and yard” is mentioned, which is most probably an actual part of the property.
After few years since the purchase, from 1828 on, Mr. Bartolomeo Franchini rehabbed the existing building and enlarged it after a plan by Captain of the Civil Engineering Don Matteo Parente.
The Franchinis maintained the ownership of the Masseria until April 26th 1897, when Alfredo, by notarial act signed by dr. Morea, handed it over to Saverio De Bellis, Knight of Labor, known as “father of the Apulian industry”.
On June 19th 2008, the Valentini family acquired the Masseria and in September 2009 they started restoring and rehabbing it. In less than three years the stone was alive again, and “strong and industrious hands, filled with efforts and expertise, create and mould with flair and fantasy, talent, skill and enthusiasm a work that shows off its uniqueness”.
Through the entrance of the old little church of the Relais, we enter the first room, the wide and bright Historical Hall, nestled in the surrounding hundred years old olive groves.
In May 2014 a new hall, the Corte del Sole, was opened, with a separate entrance. A modern hall, but respectful of the historic style of the Relais.