The Weekender – Puglia
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With some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches, delicious local cuisine and world-famous heritage sights, Puglia is a natural choice for a summer weekend getaway. By Maria Boyle
The Weekender: Puglia
Puglia has a great choice of hotels, private villas and uber chic masserias (boutique farmhouses). Villa Francesca, the former summer retreat of the Mayor of Fasano, has been tastefully restored in to a three-bedroomed, three bathroom luxury villa, just five minutes from the little town of Fasano and 10 mins from the historic town of Locorotondo. The air-conditioned villa, set in two acres of secluded terraced gardens, has a heated pool, lovely outside eating areas, luxurious fittings throughout and uninterrupted views over the olive groves to the sea. The villa offers a private chef service.
For those who want all the facilities a hotel offers, the beautiful Masseria Torre Coccoro is a great choice with the option of rooms and suites. The 16th century farmhouse, a few kilometres from the sea, has a spa, a swimming pool, a restaurant, a nine-hole golf course, and two private beach clubs.
With 800 kms of coastline, Puglia boasts several of Italy’s most beautiful beaches. Head to the super chic Le Palm Beach Club in Capitolo with its long, sandy beach, crystal clear blue sea, oversized sun loungers, and a wonderful fish restaurant (mixed skewer of freshly caught prawn, cuttlefish, swordfish and octopus and the salt crust sea bass come highly recommended).
Dine at Masseria Coccoro in either its elegantly lit outside terraced restaurant serving the most delicious organic Puglian food or enjoy one of its Village Feast Nights which take place every Thursday in summer. Located in Masseria Coccaro’s historic square, its festooned lit courtyard featured long communal tables, a band playing live Puglian music and entertainer on stilts. Interactive food stations showed mozzarella being made as well as different pastas – and guests are encouraged to try. A wide variety of foods were on offer, all the antipasti you could think of, locally caught seafood; Puglian meats, cheeses and also an A to Z of Italian desserts, not to mention a selection of local wines. Pure magic.
For the ultimate meal experience, try La Calce, Borgo Egnazia’s newly opened bistro and sister restaurant to Due Camini which was awarded a Michelin star in 2019. Located in the portico of La Corte, underneath the tastefully lit limestone arches, chef Domingo Schingaro has created a simple yet innovative menu focusing on ingredients and flavour. Finish the evening at Bar del Portico with DJ mixing tunes and barmen making cocktails with a Puglian twist…who knows who you will rub shoulders with.
Visit Locorotondo, a historic town perched on a hill just 10 minutes drive from the villa. Its whitewashed buildings, flower-adorned pedestrian streets and pavement restaurants and cafes are picture perfect, decorated with the most beautiful of flowers.
Take a Segway tour of the old town of Alberobello, now a UNESCO world heritage site with its hillside streets consisting of the largest concentration of Trulli. These are local stone-built conical-roofed whitewashed structures which the region is known for. The tour takes you through Alberobello’s two historical districts and stops at the Church of Sant Antonio, the only Trulli-style chuch in the region. Tours are led by Francesco, the knowledgeable owner of AllwaysPuglia.
Puglia is known for its wonderful ceramics – and the town of Grottaglie is the place to go. Surrounding the lovely historic centre, visit the pottery district which boasts more than 50 craft shops, where generations of artisans have worked and continue to create plates, crockery, as well as the famous glazed ceramic pomi.
Avoid walking in the hot months and opt for a tuktuk tour of one of Puglia’s most beautiful places to visit, Ostuni, also known as Città Bianca – the White City. Perched on a hill, the centro storico is a must-see, with its whitewashed houses, charming little shops selling ceramics, oils and local produce and pavement bars and restaurants with amazing views out to the sea. The tuktuk whizzes through the narrow streets with a welcome added breeze. Get dropped off outside Ostuni’s remarkable Gothic cathedral, built in the late 1400s, and then while away a few hours as you enjoy a spot of shopping.
Prices for flights from London to Brindisi start from £121 return, all inclusive. alitalia.com
A week’s car hire, including excess protection and free cancellation, from £142 with Zest
Featured image: Getty