Masseria Life: A Conversation with Alessio Manca
Many years before Alessio Manca got involved, six hectares of gold-green Puglian land dotted with 700 olive trees sat untouched. In 2016, when the modern farmhouse Masseria Moroseta opened its doors on the land, it came alive with the aromas of Giorgia Goggi’s delicious food and the sounds of intimate laughter.
The Masseria is a six-room farmhouse that echoes the vision that owner Carlo Lanzini had while growing up in the countryside near Brescia; he always imagined having a home where he could have friends and family visit him. After studying cinematography in London for several years, he moved back to Italy.
It was on a one-night stopover in Puglia when inspiration struck. He woke up, fell in love with the region’s simple elegance, and called his friend of 20 years, the designer Andrew Trotter, to say he wanted to live there. One year later, they found the land and started the project. Soon thereafter, Giorgia and Alessio joined the “family”.
These days, the Masseria is still an organic farmhouse with room stays, while the three partners have also added three other properties (all in Puglia and within 10-15 minutes). We spoke to Alessio Manca about the team’s approach to design and hospitality.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE MASSERIA?
Alessio Manca: “I decided to join the Moroseta family in 2018, and the four of us – me, Carlo, Giorgia and Andrew – started to think of how to propose the same vibes of the Masseria, but in a different way. The project was born from the want to offer a similar service as Masseria Moroseta, but with the freedom to use the villa in an exclusive way.”
HOW DOES YOUR PARTNER, GIORGIA GOGGI, FIT IN?
AM: “Giorgia studied industrial design and fashion at Politecnico in Milan and after her studies she decided to follow her passion for food. She worked in Milan and was working in Asia when Carlo found out about her. He needed a chef and asked some food influencers in Italy. In two weeks, she came to the Masseria and after a two-month residency in Masseria in 2017, she fell in love with the reality of Puglia countryside and now she has been with us for four years. And she still uses Asian influence, like a cuttlefish with coconut milk or curry spices, mixed with local ingredients.”
DO YOU ALWAYS WORK WITH STUDIO ANDREW TROTTER, AND WHAT IS YOUR SHARED VISION?
AM: “Andrew and Carlo have known each other for 20 years, they used to live in London together. Andrew is our architect but first, he is our friend. He’s part of the Moroseta family and he follows almost all of our projects. Three of the villas have been designed by him. In Puglia, the style is not fancy. It’s very rustic, minimal, only white lines and some good furniture and nothing else. We use traditional materials to build the white tufo for the walls and typical Chianca di Trani for the floor. We collaborate with local builders who do this job, since they are ever-respecting of the classic methods. Our choices are always based on the authenticity of the places while respecting our aesthetic and ethical principles.”
HOW ARE EACH OF THE VILLAS DIFFERENT?
AM: “The Moroseta Villas are different from each other as the landscape of each property is really unique. At Villa Castelluccio, which is on five acres of olive groves, the building was actually a villa from the 1920s, renovated by Andrew. Tenuta Masseriola is surrounded by olive trees and red soil and La Cassetta has fig, pear, grapes and almond trees. And in Villa Cardo, there was a lania, like a little house where the farmers would live, which is still part of that property, but other than that, and Castellucchio, the villas were built from scratch.”
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU THREE UP TO THESE DAYS?
AM: “Me and Carlo and Giorgia try to sit together once a day, to talk about new plans and new projects. Giorgia just did a collection of ceramic plates dedicated to the Masseria, doing all the printing herself in a ceramics town close by. We also sell our olive oil, and from the waste of the olive oil production, we make our beauty and cosmetic line that goes into the rooms. Giorgia can also go to the villas and do a private cooking show, or we can hire local Puglia ladies to go to the villas and make something traditional, like orecchiette. We are also focusing on a new project in the south of Puglia, and Carlo is developing a new project with Andrew where together they build houses on demand.”
IT SOUNDS WONDERFUL. CAN YOU ILLUSTRATE WHAT A DAY IN YOUR LIFE LOOKS LIKE?
AM: “We live in an apartment in the Masseria, so at 7:30 we go outside and do a breakfast service with the guests staying there, and we ask them what they feel like doing based on their weather or mood, and we share our tips of the day. Then we answer emails and update our Instagram – we don’t let anyone else do it because nobody knows the place better than us – and then we do a lunch service, where we sit with our guests. After that, it’s time for a siesta, the pool and an aperitivo. And four nights a week, we do a dinner service that starts with a glass of wine at 5:30pm and doesn’t end until 11pm usually. Giorgia does a blind menu, it’s a four-course cooking show.”
WHAT IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?
AM: “When you work 14-15 hours a day, you don’t want it to feel like work. We just love what we do, and the guests see that when they come here and see us playing with our dogs and having a glass of wine. We think that’s why 50% of the people who visit don’t even leave before they’ve booked again for the next year. It’s crazy how we all met, out of the blue, the family – me, Carlo, Giorgia and Andrew – and if one of us doesn’t get something, or one of us is feeling down, the other has his or her back. It’s like we’re always giving powers to each other.”
To book a stay in Moroseta’s newest villa, Tenuta Masseriola, click here.