Perfectly peaceful Puglian retreats
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Low-key chic in the Valle d’Itria
Collette Dinnigan made her name almost three decades ago on the runways of Paris as the first Australian designer to show her ready-to-wear collections in the French capital. She’s long since stopped creating clothes, but she’s proven to be a dab hand at interiors. Case in point: Casa Olivetta, the little compound of farmhouses in an olive grove that she restored in the Valle d’Itria back in 2016.
With a gorgeous cook’s kitchen, a master suite with an antique iron canopy bed, two further bedrooms in the main house, and a guest villa that’s perfect for a couple (or a teenager), it’s a masterclass in unstudied country chic. The pool, surrounded by a limestone border and native wildflower beds and grasses, is bucolic; the 100-year-old pizza oven is a bonus. Book through masseriamoroseta.com, from €7,500 a week
Peace and privacy on the Adriatic
Conceived and kitted for a much bigger group – it sleeps up to 22 people – Masseria Pistola is a new-for-2023 villa. British entrepreneur Constant Tedder saw the house, at the time abandoned for more than 35 years, and fell for it. He enlisted James Thurstan Waterworth, formerly the European design director for Soho House, to see to its interiors. The suites are spread throughout two houses and a smattering of trulli across the estate’s 30 acres.
The antiques hail from the south of France and northern Spain as well as all the best shops and weekend markets around the Canale di Pirro, where Pistola is. It brings plenty of privacy (a few of the trulli cottages have their own kitchens), but also numerous indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, including games in the main house and no fewer than four dining terraces: the wine, honey and preserves, and most fruits and vegetables, all come from the estate. masseriapistola.com, from €13,500 per week
A hidden palazzo with charm to spare
The southern reaches of Puglia – the tip of the heel of Italy’s boot – are known as the Salento: flat, windswept, bracketed by the Ionian and the Adriatic, with a strong sense of Greece in the air and on the land (Corfu is only about 60 miles to the east). It’s simpler and maybe a bit more shambolic down here, but I’ve always preferred it to the region’s northern reaches, not least because the sea between Pescoluse and Punta Pizzo is some of the bluest and most beguiling in Italy.
Don Totu Dimora Storica is in the middle of the Lilliputian village of San Cassiano, south-west of Otranto – an unassuming street door leads into a sprawling palazzo with a wide courtyard complete with pool and olive trees. There’s a second roof terrace for sunset lounging. The six accommodations range from a modest couple’s room to a studio-apartment-sized suite with its own terrace. Breakfast is served in the shaded portico or in a pretty room off the courtyard – all star-vaulted ceilings, exposed walls of creamy pietra leccese, and regional delights such as dense, fruit-filled pasticciotti. And the beaches of Santa Cesarea are a 20-minute drive away. dontotu.it, from €345
Maximum masseria style (and great value)
I discovered the charms of Masseria Silentio – one part of the estate near Ostuni known as Borgo Silentio – thanks to our friends over at Maison Flâneur, who have as good an eye for a chic sleep as they do a chic lamp, placemat or set of bed linens. It truly does feel like a home, from the rustic painted furniture mixed in with the odd baroque or 19th-century showpiece antique, to the eclectic mix of ceramics on the table in the morning.
Sun pours into the single-storey building through the half-arched glass doors, which lead out to a stone terrace and small but pretty pool surrounded by olive trees. Above is a roof terrace that spans the entire building, with café tables and loungers for enjoying the views morning to night. borgosilentio.com, from £350