Puglia - The Insider's Italy
Tucked away in Italy’s heel, Puglia is the insider’s destination for its picturesque landscape, ancient olive trees, miles of Adriatic coastline, and gorgeous local wine and seafood. This is the unspoiled and authentic Italy of your imagination, with original Masserias, those fortified farmhouses which were built to protect against centuries of invaders, and now protect against the throngs of tourists. Puglia is the insider’s destination, where those so well-traveled and impossibly chic grace the beaches with their presence during the summer, and frequent year-round just for the food.
Puglia is celebrated for its seafood. You can’t go to Puglia and not have some crudo—which means raw in Italian and refers to fresh, raw fish and shellfish. For the best crudo in the region, drive to the Ristorante da Tuccino in Bari by the seaside. There you can start with multiple courses of incredibly fresh, and of course raw, langoustines, scallops and local fish followed by their decadent and perfectly cooked seafood pasta.
After dinner drive down the coastline to the breathtaking and brand new Borgo Egnazia Hotel in Savalletri, between the towns of Bari and Brindisi. The Borgo is one of three properties in Puglia owned and operated by the Melpignano family who have built a gem of a hotel empire. Borgo Egnazia is the perfect blend of modern design carved into local tradition. Check into a room in the main hotel or a fully-serviced villa on the property for the weekend. Each room boasts flat-screen televisions hidden behind sliding panels and large bathrooms with rain forestshowers sure to please even the biggest Euro-skeptics. Request a room with a view of the evening sunset.
Wake up early to enjoy a morning bike ride around the property, before sitting down to breakfast on the terrace overlooking the pool. After breakfast, you can be shuttled to the neighboring sister property, Masseria San Domenico, for treatments at their renowned Thalassotherapy Spa. Thalassotherapy incorporates seawater and its rich, mineral content into a variety of services including those in its very own salt-water indoor pool.
After the spa, take a peek around the San Domenico, a 15th century Masseria that was renovated and continues to be personally managed by the elder Melpignanos. Experiencing this hotel is like taking in history—of both the region and the family. For lunch, head to Borgo’s quaint partner beach club for a feast of fresh grilled seafood, white wine and an afternoon at the beach. Relax by the water, or take advantage of the strong winds to kite or windsurf. This will be one of those moments where you just feel that life is good.
In the late afternoon, head back to the Borgo for twilight tennis on their beautiful grass court. For après tennis drinks, squeeze in a sunset cocktail poolside or glass of Prosecco from your room balcony before getting ready for dinner at the hotel. The Borgo’s main restaurant, Due Camini, serves beautfiul Pugliese cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients—even the olive oil is made on the sister property. Accompanying dinner is a delicious selection of regional wines that warrants exploration and discovery. Don’t miss the faggotino appetizer, the orecchiette pasta, or the langoustines. Also make sure to try the home-made pistachio icecream served with a drizzle of olive oil— it will completely redefine how you think pistachio icecream should taste.
Wake up leisurely to the sounds of the Italian countryside, before spending the morning playing the
San Domenico 18-hole, par 72 golf course that runs along the sea. Then again, you can simply chill by the picturesque hotel pools, but don’t forget your most stylish bathing suit and accessories so you can fit right in.
After morning activities, take a drive to explore Puglia’s countryside and picturesque towns. Begin in Cisternino, considered one of the most beautiful towns in the region. Head to the Zio Pietro butcher in the old town for a casual lunch of local sausage, salami, and house wine. Afterwards, continue on to the ancient white-walled city of Ostuni. Explore its picturesque streets, the town’s cathedral, and Bishop’s Palace. Have dinner al fresco at Acquasale, just outside of town, before returning to the old city for a drink at Riccardo Caffé, which is built into a cave. To remember your weekend Galavante, pick up a few bottles of Pugliese wine and San Domenico Olive Oil before boarding your return flight on Monday morning. And regretfully leave you will, only comforted by the thought of your next visit.