Masseria Susafa - Owner's Story

Owner's Stories

Tommaso and Manfredi are two brothers with the feeling for hospitality. Susafa goes back to 800 years ago where that area was inhabited by a self-contained community of around 100 families. Everybody was contributing in making the Masseria population thrive and completely self-sufficient. “Su-sa-fa” means, in fact, “It can be done”. The Christian Church used to own Susafa and in 1840 Gioacchino Saeli bought the 3000 acres feud and started building all that can be found today. Tough years followed for those living in the Masseria. Threatened by brigands and bandits, the Saeli family had to fortify it. It is noteworthy saying that Masseria was built entirely by hand. Thanks to Gioacchino intervention, after only 50 years Susafa had a community of 110 families for a total of 500 people. The Saeli family, the baker, the cheese maker, the campiere and as well as seasonal workers used to live there. It is easier to think of the Masseria as a small lively village where the rhythm of activities was following the seasons cycle. The family members recall the almonds harvest as one of the happiest and most significant times of the year.

Long cane sticks were used to beat the tree branches to collect the almonds still encased in their husk. Hundreds of kilos of almonds were transported to the house on mules marching in line. The granary, where today we can find a restaurant inspired by local cuisine, is one of the most suggestive buildings of the Masseria. The Susafa community lived unchanged until the Second World War. In the 50s and 60s, due to the industrialisation and the maximization of resources the population left the area which declined in an abandoned land. In 1985, the Masseria was practically abandoned but in the late 90s, the family and Maria Grazia in particular, decided to revive the old self-sufficient Susafa. At this point, the dream was to bring back to life the self-sustained community existing back centuries ago, from producing the bread to growing all the fruit and vegetables to prepare delicious food.

Renovation works went all the way to 2008 when Masseria Susafa opened its doors to the public. Nowadays, water comes from the local wells, all sorts of fruit, aromatic herbs and numerous varieties of vegetables were planted just behind the restaurant. The menu changes every month or so just depending on what is in the season. Also, the cooking classes make use of recipes that include only what can be taken straight from the garden. The old “palmetto”, where wine was produced and stored, has been turned into the wine-bar. Today, visitors can fully enjoy the Masseria experience joining tours in the kitchen garden, the herbal garden and visiting the 50 hectares of the cherry orchard which was planted more than 10 years ago. The “bring back to life Susafa experience” project is a genuine attempt to deliver the guests an authentic and unique taste of Sicily. After graduating high school, Manfredi started following all the restoration of the properties. He also worked in Vancouver in Canada and in Anversa in Belgium where he has opened two restaurants that then he sold to go back to the Susafa Project. With a BA in Economics, Tommaso becomes the financial, accounting and management control specialist of the two brothers while Manfredi looks after F&B and sales & marketing. Tommaso and Manfredi’s father, Mario Rizzuto, are together in charge of the 600 hectares, 30 of which are used to produce bio-oil, 70 covered in woods and the rest with grain. The almost obsessive attention to sustainability and the willingness to revive the old Masseria is probably the main reason that brought them to win in 2017 the prize for the Best Small & Exclusive Property in Europe from Conde Nast Johansen. Nowadays, Susafa extension is of 5000 square metres with half of it in active use.

"It can be done."

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