“for us Masseria Chicco Rizzo is the root, the history of our family, the oldest memory we have … it’s a sunny day in a wheat field”
The Tenuta Masseria Chicco Rizzo is located in the heart of Salento close to Lecce and Otranto, in an area known as the “Grecia Salentina” whose inhabitants still speak Griko, an ancient language descended from Ionian Greek.
The masseria started life in the eighteenth century as a horse-station for mail, where stagecoaches could change their horses. It was linked to the Roca Vecchia -Naunia road which connected the Traiana-Calabra to the Sallentina. These roads were linked to important ports such as that of Otranto and Gallipoli. In these ports the ships took on their loads the “lampante oil” that was exported to switch on the oil-lamps of most important cities of Europian royal courts.
Later the masseria was transformed into the nerve centre of a large estate, or latifondo, belonging to local landowners and was managed by factors (massari) who worked in “sharecropping”. Thus It became the Masseria Chiccu Rizzu. The name comes from a type of wrinkled (raggrinzito in Italian) wheat: in the local dialect, chiccu is the grain of wheat and rizzu describes its wrinkled appearance.
At the beginning of the XX century, the structure acquired a new massaro: Vincenzo Carcagnì. He had six children, one of whom was Antonio who was born on the farm in 1918. Antonio (known as Ntonucciu) married Celeste and together they bought the masseria. They transformed it into a farming business whose main crops were tobacco, wheat and others cereals. They also raised cattle and horses and produced an excellent cheese.
In the last ten years, the Masseria Chiccu Rizzu has been renovated magnificently and transformed into an agritourism structure. In addition, more than 4,000 olive trees have been planted in the 18 hectares of land around it. As a result, the masseria has now become the Tenuta Masseria Chicco Rizzo, restored to its original splendour by its current owners Donato and Ada Carcagnì, son and daughter of Antonio and Celeste.