The Pajara, or pagghiara, is a dry-stone masonry building, typical of the Salento region, not too dissimilar from the more famous trullo of Alberobello. Usually an isolated building, the pajara was used by farmers for storage (the name comes from the Italian word for hay,paglia), a bit like a barn, or for temporary shelter, when farmers and their families would travel from nearby villages on horse-drawn carts to farm the groves, and spend the night in the fields in order not to waste several hours of daylight walking back and forth from their village houses.

 

In the first picture is my family's own, now dilapidated pajara, on one our oldest olive groves (some of the trees are estimated to be 400-500 years old). My mum remembers sleeping in it, next to the fireplace, as a kid, when she would go there with her parents, brothers and sisters during the harvest season.

Many pajare (second picture - not mine) are now being refurbished, modernised and, where possible, enlarged, to provide summer accommodation, in the cool shade of olive trees.

The unpronounceable Schiafazzi (pron. skeeafatsee) estate is the oldest of my family's three olive groves; it is located on the outskirts of the town of Salve, and just a couple of miles from my mum's birthplace, Acquarica del Capo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grove is made up of about 150 trees, many of them pluri-centennial, mostly producing Ogliarola olives, and some Cellina di Nardò, two local cultivars, which, blended, produce our Donna Lucia Etichetta Nera, an extra virgin olive oil similar to the PDO (protected designation of origin) Terra d'Otranto olive oil.

Our Donna Lucia Riserva extra virgin olive oil comes from younger Leccino trees, which my dad (left) planted twenty years ago on a grove that used to belong to his father.

His brother (left) is always willing to lend a hand and give his expert advice at harvest time.