Puglia has always been a favoured destination for Italian holiday makers, but is now increasingly popular with the discerning international visitor who comes, not just for the incomparable sea and the best beaches on the Italian mainland, but also for the food, the wine and to experience the unique history, culture and way of life, largely unspoiled by tourism. The areas of the Salento and Gargano may be better known, but the area between Bari and Brindisi has as much, or more, to offer as well as being closer to the airports.
The ‘centri storici’, or historical centres, of the local towns have cobblestoned streets and white washed buildings, their long history reflected in the diversity of their architecture; from Norman cathedrals or castles to romanesque or baroque churches and the odd Venetian style palazzo. Each town has its own character, from the trulli of Alberobello, to the dramatic clifftop setting of Polignano, the fishing boats and medieval centro storico of Monopoli or the baroque richness of Martina Franca. There are wonderful beaches, from rocky coves to long stretches of white sand. The fertile soil and microclimate created by the hills makes this area surprisingly green and the local produce is bursting with flavour. Add to this the freshest fish and seafood and the excellent local oil and wine and you have a foodie’s paradise.
With the exception of Alberobello, and perhaps Ostuni, the area is relatively undiscovered but, despite this, there are some very special places to stay:
An incredible setting – built into the town walls with a roof terrace looking out to sea, excellent service and stylish, comfortable rooms all add up to create a memorable experience. The restaurant is housed in what was originally the powder magazine, when the building was a fortress in the sixteenth century. Now the ancient vaulted stone ceilings are lit to great effect, furnishings are cool and contemporary and bedrooms have all mod cons. Each is different, some have balconies and the smallest is by no means the least desirable as it has an amazing sea view. There is a small pool with Jacuzzi on the roof terrace, but you can also swim from the rocks directly beneath the hotel or the adjacent beach. A selection of other beaches are within walking distance, as are shops, restaurants and bars. 10 en-suite rooms or suites. Best for: Sea lovers, romantic breaks, those who prefer not to drive on holiday. Car not needed.
The Masseria has been lovingly restored by the family who own it, preserving original features, such as the floors and fireplaces, while adding modern comforts such as whirlpool baths. Rooms are tastefully furnished with period pieces. There is a spa with a wide range of pampering treatments, a stables with horses to ride, and lessons for children and adults, a large swimming pool and a restaurant serving delicious Puglian home cooking, using produce grown on the estate or sourced locally. Service is friendly, hospitable and helpful without ever being invasive. The overall feeling is like staying on a friend’s country estate. 9 suites, 4 of which are family suites with either separate children’s rooms, or twin beds on a mezzanine above the living room. Best for: families, foodies, horse lovers, those wishing to experience the ‘real’ Puglia
Borgo Eganazia has luxurious, elegant bedrooms and suites in the main building, La Corte. Facilities include four swimming pools, one inside, a choice of restaurants and an award winning spa. Next door is a championship golf course and guests can choose between two beach clubs, one with water sports. So far so good – so excellent in fact, but the same could be said of many luxury hotels in the world. But the Corte has been built in the style of the classic fortified ‘masseria’ of the surrounding area. The ‘Borgo’ area, with rooms and apartments in a more ‘rustic’, local style, though always elegant, has been built to mimic the typical ‘centri storici’ of the area, accessed through an arch, with whitewashed buildings and cobblestones.. There is even a main square for people to gather, where fairs and events are held. You could only be in Puglia. The dishes served in the restaurants and taught in the cooking school confirm this. Further away, in the grounds, there are completely independent villas, each with its own pool – absolute privacy but with access to all the services. Children and teens have their own club rooms, pool and restaurant. At this point you could also only be here…In fact Borgo Egnazia’s slogan is ‘ Nowhere else…’
All the above accommodation can be booked through Personal Puglia who match the lowest published price for hotel accommodation http://www.personalpuglia.com 0039 333 7911030