A touch of luxe in Puglia

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS - Francesca Syz


Italy is renowned for fash­ion able ex­ports. Glamour oozes from Mi­lan, down through Rome to Sor­rento, Capri and the Amalfi Coast: all hotspots for those ac­cus­tomed to the best in life. But Puglia, the heel in Italy ’s boot, off­sets this rep­u­ta­tion for re­fine­ment with its ru­ral charm. The land­scape is pep­pered with rip­pling olive groves flecked with cacti, and trulli – Unesco-pro­tected, cone-shaped farm stores na­tive to the re­gion. This is Italy at its most rus­tic. Well, al­most.

There are three mil­lion olive trees here and for thou­sands of years the re­gional econ­omy re­volved around olives, but be­tween the an­cient trees and tracks, a thriv­ing tourist econ­omy has now grown. Borgo Egnazia is like a tra­di­tional Pug lian vil­lage with a Hol­ly­wood state of mind. Built from scratch seven years ago – though its wind­ing streets and mel­low stone would have you think oth­er­wise – it rep­re­sents vil­lage life with all the mod cons. A small ho­tel is sur­rounded by apart­ments, casette and lux­ury vil­las, all avail­able to rent in­di­vid­u­ally – or you can take the whole lot, as Justin Tim­ber­lake and Jes­sica Biel did when they chose Borgo for their wed­ding in 2012.

Ev­ery­where you look, sun-ripened fruit, grain and veg­eta­bles sit in art­fully cu­rate d jute sacks, a cor­nu­copia of fresh har­vest of­fer­ings spill from wooden carts, and lo­cal ex­perts on pretty much ev­ery­thing – their uni­form a chic vari­a­tion on tra­di­tional dress – are al­ways at hand. At the heart of the com­plex, Borgo Egnazia’s restau­rant, Due Camini, of­fers a gourmet menu of lo­cal pro­duce in­spired by the Puglian cucina povera. Be­low ground is the Vair spa, where the team of ther­a­pists in­cludes psy­chol­o­gists and mu­si­cians.

While one could hap­pily re­main in Borgo’s bucolic sur­round­ings, there’s a beach club to be ex­plored a five-minute buggy ride away, or a 10-minute stroll along a path across the ho­tel’s 18-hole golf course. Here, you’ll find the ex­cel­lent seafood rest a ur an­tPe sc heria da Vito, with a menu brim­ming over with the fresh­est oc­to­pus, lan­gous­tine, lob­ster and sea bass–de­pend­ing on the day ’s catch. Like ev­ery­thing else here, it feels like a per­fectly con­sid­ered Puglian idyll has been re­alised. — Rob­bie Hodges


The Parisian owner of this lovely ho­tel within the his­toric city walls of Lecce was very much in­spired by his glam­orous grand­mother, who came from here and was a muse for two sculp­tors, both of whom she mar­ried. You’ll find their sculp­tures – and other in­ter­est­ing art – ev­ery­where. Once a 17th-cen­tury pri­vate home, to­day La Fiermontina has 18 spa­cious bed­rooms with vaulted ceil­ings, many of them with ter­races or ac­cess to the gar­den, and all sooth­ingly min­i­mal­ist in a style that is part Paris, part Puglia. Out­side, an ex­ten­sive gar­den filled with or­ange trees makes it hard to be­lieve that you’re still in the city, while a pool set a lit­tle way from the house is a heav­enly spot to re­treat to. In the din­ing rooms (or be­neath the or­ange trees in fine weather), the dishes served are tra­di­tional Puglian with a modern twist.

1 There are three out­door pools at Borgo Egnazia, and an in­door one in the fit­ness suite


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