There is a reason Italy draws crowds in the summer. The country, known for its aperitivo culture, bucolic olive groves, and dramatic coastlines, has been fueling summertime fantasies for decades. Take a dip in the crisp clear waters of the Adriatic sea in the morning, dine on spaghetti alle vongole under a vine-laced trellis for lunch, and finish off the day perched on a cliff with an Aperol Spritz in hand. What could be better? A place sans tourists.
While travelers typically flock to popular destinations from Venice to Positano, there is something to be said about the peaceful nature of a little-known locale. And while it is rapidly gaining momentum on the world stage, Puglia is, to an extent, one of those hidden treasures to visit if you’re in dire need of an inspirational feast for the senses. Located on the heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia is rich in southern Italian charm.
The region is known for its bucolic towns filled with traditional “trulli” stone huts, centuries-old farms, and dramatic coastlines bordering the Adriatic Sea. But if these sights aren’t enough to convince you to visit this summer, two more compelling reasons might. This spring, Puglia became home to two new picturesque design hotels, Palazzo Daniele and Masseria Torre Maizza, located at opposite ends of the region and each offering a distinct and unforgettable experience.
Ahead, the two hoteliers make a case for why their hotels are the ideal backdrop for Pugliese escapades.
If you want to picnic under ancient olive trees…
Masseria Torre Maizza is steeped in local history. Once a 16th-century farm (a “masseria”), the 30-room hotel was updated and expanded under the watchful eye of Olga Polizzi, a hotelier and interior designer behind Rocco Forte Hotels. Located near Savelleteri di Fasano, close to the Adriatic coast, the property is surrounded by groves of ancient olive trees and lush private gardens. The property also offers a sunset rooftop bar, a stylish restaurant overlooking the swimming pool, and access to a private beach club nearby.
Why you should go: Embrace the quietness of Pugliese farmland. “My favorite space is the lovely large pool,” says Polizzi of the hotel’s tranquil charm. “Another truly beautiful area is near our orchard that is 400 years old and the surrounding olive trees with huge knotted trunks that seem to embody all wisdom and knowledge. It’s a lovely site for a picnic.”
Beyond the pool and the olive groves, the resort offers a nine-hole executive golf course and a wealth of local, tailor-made experiences from horseback riding to sailing, as well as yoga and culinary experiences.
How you can bring it home: Before beginning the design process for the hotel, Polizzi spent a week touring the region to find the best artisans. “Puglia is known for its pottery, ironwork, embroidery, and woven items, and we tried to incorporate them all in the design of the masseria,” she told Domino. The designer filled each room with oversize platters on the walls, hand-painted lamps, and local good-luck pine cones. The windows were covered in beautiful local white embroidered panels. To keep in line with the surrounding countryside and seaside, she stuck to a palette of green and blue tones.
If you want to dive into Italy’s rich art history…
Clocking in at only nine suites, Palazzo Daniele is a private retreat housed in a 150-year-old family palazzo. Set in the sleepy village of Gagliano del Capo in Puglia’s southernmost region and formerly the home of art philanthropist Francesco Petrucci, the property is stripped back and left bare as much as possible to reveal its storied past. The owner, Gabriele Salini, who also owns the hotel G-Rough in Rome, wanted to augment the grandeur of the palazzo’s original frescoes, vaulted ceilings, and mosaic flooring to create a dramatic canvas for the property’s contemporary art collection.
Why you should go: Salento is a gateway to both the Adriatic’s rocky coastline and the sandy beaches of the Ionian Sea. It’s also the setting for the annual international art show Capo d’Arte. Inside the hotel, a carefully curated modern art collection commissioned by Petrucci sits alongside ancestral portraits and neoclassical architecture. “Palazzo Daniele doesn’t look like a hotel but rather like a private property where our visitors can feel like intimate guests of a family palazzo,” Salini told Domino.
The hotelier is focused on hyper-localism and community to bring the best of Pugliese life to his guests: This authenticity allows for localized experiences such as angling with neighboring fishermen and touring nearby farms and eating family-style meals at the palazzo’s communal table. The local chef is also available for private cooking lessons or can readily point guests in the direction of the best regional mozzarella or local winery.
How you can bring it home: Framed by vaulted ceilings, the suites are sparsely furnished to heighten the impact and focus on the art and architecture. In one suite, a six-meter-high rain shower falls into a basin designed by Italian artist Andrea Sala. In each room, historical frescoes and original terrazzo floors make the perfect backdrop for minimal contemporary furniture.
Whether an alfresco lunch in an olive grove followed by a crisp swim at a nearby beach is your speed or an exploration of local art history and cuisine, you’ll find your own summer paradise in Puglia.
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