Here, in a peaceful setting with lovely surroundings that have remained unchanged for years, you'll find it easy to simply make time for yourself and discover some of the origins of Sicilian culture. You are staying in a piece of history that has a story of its own to tell, about people and practices that are, perhaps, not so very distant from us after all.
Staying as a guest at Susafa Resort, you really are stepping into an older, more genuine lifestyle, where you can restore your deeper sense of time and enjoy the gentle rhythm of country life, with its slower pace; as the silence enfolds you, you'll find peace and tranquillity and feel as though you are living in a world apart, sensing the need to slow down in order to savour it better.
Masseria Susafa is owned and run by the Saeli-Rizzuto family, who have owned and farmed the property for five generations, carefully passing down their centuries-old, fascinating country traditions. Today, the owners invite guests to share that genuine country life, the only modification being that the old-fashioned austerity of the past has been carefully substituted with all the comforts of a beautifully furnished, tasteful holiday resort.
This was the idea behind converting the whole farm into a welcoming home, giving that all-important feeling of being in one's own home, with the addition of staff on hand to help you with anything you require.
Susafa is first and foremost the story of a land, with all its events and deeds involving local people and places - a microcosm that speaks of and testifies to an older Sicily, which, nonetheless, still exists today.
It is a story about men, and work, about lives lived according to the slow rhythms of nature, and according to the seasons, where the day began in the last hour of dark before dawn, and ended at the first sign of sundown.
These were the men who, when their daily manual labour in the fields drew to an end, turned and headed back to the farmhouse called 'Case Nuove Susafa' where they lived with their families. The big homestead with its huge storerooms remains an important example of country building; its size and volume of agricultural production speak of a period of economic growth for the area.
The construction of the houses was almost certainly completed around 1870. They were built next to a nucleus of older buildings that can still be seen, dating back to the second half of the 1700s. The older structures belonging to the Catholic church were bought by the Saeli family after the unification of Italy, around 1865.
The high, thick, fortified walls protected the inhabitants from the much-feared raids by brigands; at sundown, the doors were bolted and nobody was allowed in or out until the following morning. Guards would spend the night behind the iron grilles, watching for any suspicious movement, ready to shoot at the first sign of danger.
Here, as well as in the fields, a collective lifestyle was lived out in miniscule proportions, but represented a whole world of country life. Here, the days were permeated with old sounds of the past, janglings that are now forgotten, the chatter of a sort of sing-song dialect, and shouts as the animals were urged in or out of the farmstead, pulling carts full of crop that were destined to the great, imposing storehouses which still overwhelm and fascinate the visitor with their monumental power.
In those days, the women waited for their husbands, fathers or brothers to come back and ran the household, working in the farmhouse, dressed in heavy shawls during the snowy chill of winter, or bare-armed in the summer heat, and doing "cosi di fimmini" – very important women's work.
You can still see the old ovens where the women used to bake the bread that was given out to the men as they left for the fields, with a little piece of something to eat with it, meant to last for the whole day.
It must have been quite a sight when, sitting at long tables, the women would wait as the mules filed into the storerooms with panniers full of fresh almonds; having unloaded them, they opened the almonds by striking them with a stone, splitting the green husks and extracting the fruit, which was divided into "li mennuli duri" and "li mennuli muddisi" - the hard and the soft almonds.
The air around them became heavy with a sweet, almost sensual fragrance that clung to those present long after the day's work was over.