The History of Avetrana
Some sources, which draw inspiration from Foscarini and the Infantino, affirm that Avetrana was founded by Norman veterans, from which comes the name. Others say that it was founded by populations from nearby areas (S.Giorgio, Modunato and Santa Maria) that were destroyed around the ninth century by the Saracen invasions (from which the symbol of the municipal coat of arms bearing three hills derives). Actually, but this is not the place for discussion, on the basis of historical and archaeological investigations both hypotheses can be refuted and, at the moment, there is no reliable one. It can only be said that the origins of Avetrana have nothing to do with the Normans nor even less with the Saracen invasions that, although historically documented, are not completely true: that is, writers of the past have attributed the origin of many towns to the destruction of 'three' pre-existing hamlets.
The first settlements of the territory date back to the Neolithic age, VI-V century BC, as can be confirmed by the various sites that are found in the area (Caverna Dell'Erba, Grotta di S.Martino, Grotta di Villanova-Specchia Rascina, Masseria La Marina, etc.) and certainly, by recent discoveries, the presence of the Neanderthal Man (75-50 thousand years ago); then more traces of Messapians, Romans (among these the rustic villa in the S. Francesco district), Byzantine (Santa Maria del Casale, La Crava and perhaps Masseria Granieri).
The birth of Avetrana is likely attributable to the centralizing policies of the Angevins in order to favor the competition in major centers of the populations who lived scattered throughout the countryside. In fact, if in the past the tower was erroneously attributed to the Norman era, and consequently the origin of Avetrana as an urban center, now the attribution to that era is clearly erroneous. Without necessarily having to follow, during the Middle Ages, the successions of the feudal vati, the turning point for Avetrana is represented by the presence of the Pagans, who, having obtained from the king the right to demand duty on salts, built the wall enclosure to defend the small village and the completed the fortress system during the sixteenth century.
The name Avetrana
Leaving out the more or less creative hypotheses about the origins of the toponym, the following seems to be of the most credible: the etymology from which it is necessary to start is not Avetrana as commonly believed, but 'Vetrana'. The documentary and cartographic survey is seen around toponyms such as 'Vetrana', 'Veterana', 'Vetrina', 'Veturia', 'Veturiana' etc. The analysis leads us to believe that the suffix '-ana', or '-ano' from the Latin toponyms of predial origin and therefore, 'land belonging to someone', in our case 'land belonging to Veturius' then 'land of la veturiana or vetrana 'and hence' terra della Vetrana ', or' La Vetrana 'from which' L 'Avetrana' is Avetrana.
The masseria (farmhouse)
This is a phenomenon that mainly characterizes the southern part of Italy. Although many see the masseria as a filiation of the 'villa rustica' of Roman origin, in reality it is necessary to consider that while in Roman times there is no contractual form between the dominus (the owner) and the servants working for him in the fields, it is only with the advent of the Longobards (6th-9th centuries) that the legal figure of the 'masseria contract' will begin, where the 'dominus' commits himself to give a part of the product of the agro-pastoral activity to its 'massarius'; that is, the person who, in his place, cares for the fields and pastoral activities (ie the 'mass'). Only in later times will the masserie begin to enrich themselves structurally with the 'noble part': where, especially during the period of harvest or during the summer, the owner (dominus) will reside.
Thanks to Mr. Pietro Scarciglia for the historical-cultural information.