Historically important fortified farmhouse
Masseria Petrarolo was built in 1689 as a fortified farmhouse as a stronghold against marauding Saracen raiders from North Africa.
It is a described as a fortified farmhouse without tower. When it was built the main core of the house could be isolated by raising the drawbridge.
Three trapdoors enabled the residents to retreat from the outer ramparts into the core of the house using step ladders which were kicked away under pursuit.
The bell tower stands proud on the roof-top and would have rung during an attack. The convention was to light a basket lantern to alert the neighbouring masseria of an impending attack. When an attack was underway a string of burning basket lanterns could be seen stretching down the coast.
Defenders used arrow slits to fire crossbow bolts at the enemy.
Traditionally the Masseria and the land surrounding the house would have supported and provided shelter for a number of family not just the noble landowner.
In the eighteenth century, the farm was owned by Francesco Petrarolo, a financier: whose family coat of arms is displayed as the carved relief of a noble family, depicting a cherub and an underlying composition of pomegranates.
In all likelihood an original group of buildings was added to and fortified in 1600’s with the chapel being built in 1689. The main house is almost certainly older. The interior of the chapel, which is still used by a local congregation, has a single hall and is furnished and decorated with interesting central canvas, perhaps the eighteenth century, depicting a Madonna and Child, to which residents in the district dedicate devotion.
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