As I promised in my previous review, I am returning to Puglia. And first I’ll tell you about Masseria Torre Coccaro. This picturesque white-walled masseria is only a five-minute drive away and is less stylistically eclectic and international than the San Domenico described last time (although the staff also speaks English). But the atmosphere here is more consistent with the area. Nestled among olive and almond groves surrounded by stonework, the heart of this 33-room hotel is hidden in a 16th-century fortified farm built to resist the plunder of Saracen pirates. Now there are three magnificent Junior Suites (one of them with a fireplace, the other two with a jacuzzi) equipped here. They are furnished with exquisite antique furniture, mostly from the 15th century. Other hotel rooms are located in former farm buildings.
Torre Coccaro is, I would say, “luxury of local significance” (BUT this is not in a pejorative sense, but on the contrary – it is, in fact, something extremely authentic and highly influential). Rooms are decorated with thin white cotton curtains and bedspreads, stone floors and natural wool carpets. Painted country furniture, wooden shutters and oversized satin-covered armchairs and sofas create a welcoming setting for relaxing at the end of the day. Contemporary art and antique lithographs adorn the walls, while the lamps are made in the ceramic workshop of Nicola Fasano in Grottaglia. The trappings of modern comfort are also present here since every room has been equipped with internet access, radio/CD player and air conditioning. Most rooms have at least one screened window, which is a rarity in Italy, allowing guests to sleep with fresh air without fear of mosquitoes.
If you go there in spring or autumn, when evenings in Puglia are quite cool, book Junior Suite No. 24. It has a fireplace that will be kindled for you every evening. A pleasant alternative is number 19. The largest room in the hotel, the Orange Grove Suite, is equipped with a private pool and a nice garden, but there is one peculiarity: the fact that this room is located in an unusual stone grotto, I personally thought it was too exotic. But if you like eccentric living conditions, then you might even like it – there is something in it from quite antiquity, antiquity.
Every evening in the bar – local olives and a small pizza. However, if you get tired of eating in the masseria (I don’t really imagine it, but suddenly), there are many excellent restaurants nearby. I especially recommend lunch at La Poeta Contadino in Alberobello or at the excellent Al Fornello da Ricci in Ceglie Messapica. Or Porta Nova in nearby Ostuni (there, by the way, not only gourmet food, but also beautiful views of the surrounding spaces). By the way, in the masseria there are, if I’m not confusing anything, cooking courses.
And one more masseriya: Masseria Il Frantoio. Lovely old farmhouse next door with a stone-walled orange, lemon and pomegranate garden. One evening I watched here a family of blue jays flickering between the trees, while shots of hunting rifles were heard in the surrounding forests. The hotel is located right behind Ostuni, the beautiful “White City” on a cliff overlooking the flat coastline and the Adriatic Sea.
Il Frantoio has 9 rooms. In fact, this is the clearest example of the so-called agritourism, which has gained popularity in Italy over the past thirty-five years …. Initially, all this was started to bring additional income to farmers, to increase their earnings, but today it is also a way to compensate for the detrimental effects of traditional tourism that is bad for the environment. The quality of accommodation in such places is quite different, but sometimes it happens that by a happy coincidence you arrive at such a magical place as Il Frantoio.
The manager and owner of the hotel is Armando Balestrazzi, at one time he abandoned a serious business career in order to return to the earth. Today, he tends to the old olive groves, leaving the house and kitchen to his wife, Rosalba Channamea (also retired from her corporate career), who prepares a delicious 10-course dinner every night.
The couple share a passion for vintage, and each of the comfortable guest rooms is furnished with fine 19th-century collectible furniture such as marble-topped bedside tables and tulip-shaped glass sconces. The room “Wisteria” is equipped with a fireplace, “Lily” – a stove heated by logs. Old prints, lots of books and hand-embroidered cotton bedspreads, all designed to create the atmosphere of a home of rural nobility.
Rest assured that Il Frantoio is not for everyone. There is no pool, air conditioning or room service. But if the romance of time travel and unknown lands appeals to you, then a night or two here will be an unforgettable experience. And before you leave here, buy some excellent local natural olive oil and, of course, a bottle of fruit liqueur.
And yes, Il Frantoio is close to San Domenico and Torre Coccaro, so even if you decide not to stay here, you can come here for dinner to enjoy the unique farm atmosphere and hospitality. You will not regret!
And now – Let’s talk about Lecce!