If you haven’t been, then Ugento is worth a visit. The historic centre has some beautiful buildings, and a stunning main square, and a ten minute drive away are some of the best beaches in Puglia. Add a fantastic, family run bed and breakfast and a stop over is a must….
The first time I stayed overnight in Ugento was at a bed and breakfast which, on paper, looked spectacular; it also had good reviews online. The main draw for me was a bathroom with a large roll top bath and, after a long day of looking at houses in the rain, I couldn’t wait to jump in and luxuriate…As luck would have it there was no hot water. At all. Late November, the solar panels were not doing their job, and the owners had not yet switched on the central heating. When I asked how I was supposed to therefore have hot water the owners first doubted that I didn’t have any and then showed me a small immersion heater, in their apartment some way from my room. Not surprising then that the water was barely tepid. Turning the heating on for one guest was not an option. Clearly their reviewers had only visited in the summer.
When I had to stay again, a few weeks later, I asked local contacts where they recommended and stayed at Porto Paradiso..
My room, though less grand than at the previous establishment, was cosy and delightful – with a comfy bed, water in the small fridge, vaulted ceilings in the golden, local stone and lashings of hot water!
Michela, the owner, was welcoming and hospitable and a font of local knowledge. When I managed to lock myself out on the terrace at 1 am (don’t ask!) she answered her phone and was there to let me in almost immediately, with great good humour. The next morning, breakfast was delicious, with local cakes and pastries and home made jam. Had I wanted I could have opted for a savoury breakfast, as I was given the choice the evening before. Before I left I had a quick look at the other rooms, including two family suites, all different, all charming, and explored the garden, where breakfast, and the occasional impromptu dinner, is served in the warmer months.
I left, happy and refreshed, with every intention of returning, which I did earlier this spring. This time I was given the same room as before, and was touched to find the book, which I had left behind last time by mistake, waiting for me on the pillow. Michela also showed me that she had fitted a buzzer on the inside of the gate so that no one could lock themselves out on the terrace again (though I suspect I was the first and last person to do so….) After checking in, I said I was about to go out for dinner and she suggested I leave the heater on in my room so that it would be warm if I came in late – a far cry from the industry norm where all electricity switches off when you leave the room..
The following evening, after a long day, I felt really tired and decided to cancel my dinner plans and grab a snack to have in my room… I had left it a bit late but managed to grab a savoury pastry some cheese and some olives as the shops were shutting. Back in my room I realized two things. Firstly I had managed to do something stupid to the remote controller for the hot/cold air conditioning unit so that it was blasting out cold air, and, secondly, that I could murder a glass of wine and hadn’t bought any…. I struggled with the remote for a while before giving in and calling Michela.. Again she came immediately, and gamely struggled with the remote, not really understanding what I had managed to do to it. In the end she brought me the remote from another room and a bottle of wine for good measure.
The next morning, after another delicious breakfast, I sat out in the spring sunshine on the terrace, surrounded by pots of scented golden freesias and thought that this was truly Paradiso – heaven…
I will certainly be back again, and hopefully prove to Michela that I am capable of staying at least two nights in an establishment without major incident!
Basic info: Michela doesn’t speak much English, but her niece, who does, helps out in the school holidays and at weekends.
Wifi, basic toiletries, water and fridge in rooms, capsule coffee maker for guests use in the communal area.
Price 35-60 euros for a double room, 45-65 for a family suite. 25 for an extra bed, 15 for a cot. Guests booking through Personal Puglia (firstname.lastname@example.org) get a complimentary bottle of wine or other treats in their room.
B&B Porta Paradiso
via dei Cesari, 30 – 73059 Ugento (LE)
Tel.: (+39) 0833.555409
Cell.: (+39) 338.7354655