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THE MASSERIA,  a love story

Fontana Di Vite means ‘Fountain of Life’ – it is a title inspired by a folktale that tells of a nearby spring of pure water that quenched the thirst of all hardworking laborers in the area, giving life and strength to their families.

The ‘Fountain of Life’ allegory mirrors the spirit of the people of Matera, whose daily motto is that hard work, pays off.

The fruits of labor are visible all around the region, but the story of this particular location begins around 300 years ago, when the aristocratic Gattini family built a mansion on top of a panoramic hill above the city of Matera.

Indeed, the Gattini family owned several other properties in Matera including Palazzo Gattini, located in the very centre of Matera. However, special to the setting of this particular spot, was the family’s wish to live surrounded by hundreds of acres of land from which they could produce olive oil, wheat and other grains. 

The structure which formed the foundations of the masseria was made possible with the 1816 CE Gattini expansion, which saw the building of a noble house residency, a warehouse with barrel vaults used to store wheat, and several rooms around the courtyard used as wine cellars as well as small storage depots.

In the early 1900s, Masseria Fontana di Vite became the property of the entrepreneur Giovanni Lorusso. Under his ownership, the farm would be significantly expanded.

Keeping with the business of local farming and sustainable productivity, the Lorusso family built a chapel, an outdoor oven, two other large warehouses to store tobacco leaves, and the “Lamielle”, which are little farmhouses characterized by small barrel vaults.

At that time, Masseria Fontana di Vite transformed into a rural village hosting almost 40 families to manage wheat, fruit, vegetable, lentil, olive oil and tobacco growth – most of which continues to this day.

Despite the prominent lands and large number of staff who came to eventually work for this family, the great grandfather was nicknamed “Lorusso senza nudd” meaning ‘Lorusso who owns nothing’, a sarcasm attributed to his workaholic nature and generous character. The nickname also commemorated his childhood, of which a fortune was built from nearly nothing.  In 1983, the great granddaughter of Lorusso, Annamaria, married the businessman Roberto Bolettieri. Together, they envisioned that the masseria should be a place that not only produces for livelihood, but also a place of living, hosting visitors from around Italy and the world.

Today, the honored offspring of the Lorusso-Bolettieri family own and manage these properties, with the Masseria Fontana Di Vite being the special inheritance passed down from their loving father and mother before they serially passed in 2015 and 2016.

As children, the Lorusso-Bolettieri siblings would spend at least one month each summer, playing in these fields as their father worked in the farm. Before the tragedy of the parents’ sudden and painful passing, their son, Gianlorenzo, was studying to be an engineer, while their eldest, Fausta, was writing and curating for contemporary artists.

Although inheriting the family business was at first a heavy burden for the two, they managed to up-keep this great legacy, which their father dreamed of seeing to completion, by transforming their passions into sweat and tears.

Gianlorenzo exercised his love for nature and simplicity of life by helping to develop the farming land with a small team of dedicated people known to the family for years.

Fausta’s curatorial background supported her in managing and furnishing this exquisite and tasteful space made for those with a special appreciation for tradition being re-generated to modern beauty.

These passions are continuously being developed and strengthened, in hopes of making the Masseria Fontana Di Vite a world-class destination for travellers wishing to learn about the culinary arts, contemporary visual art, as well as the nature and history of this mystical part of South Italy.

Water, an important source of life for all, carries a special symbolic and spiritual meaning for the people of Matera. Whether this so-called ‘Fountain of Life’ is myth or legend, story of a lively spring is really about the labor of love, a resilient love which carries through generations and strengthens in the face of adversary; creating beauty, class, and peacefulness, all of the qualities which make the experience of the Masseria Fontana Di Vite.

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