If it’s good enough for Dame Helen Mirrem, chances are it’s more than good enough for you. The fact that the Academy Award winning star has visited L’Astore Masseria isn’t the only reason you should visit though. This countryside retreat in Puglia (southern Italy) is positively charming and full of so much character you won’t be able to contain your emotions.
You’ll only have to listen to the most welcoming host, Leeann, tell tales of the Professor and his estate, and you won’t know whether to cry, smile or laugh. A three generation old estate, most recently the Professor owned it with his dearly beloved wife. Sadly they both passed away, with the Professor only passing a few months ago. As Leeann recounts stories of the transformation L’Astore Masseria has undergone, it’s clear to see that she shares his unrivalled passion and enthusiasm for the estate, as well as his good-humoured banter. She recounts how he wanted to learn from everyone, no matter their background or knowledge, and regardless of his enviable status. L’Astore Masseria continues so that his wish to share his estate can be fulfilled.
Lunches and Dinners
With acres of land, an impressive wine cellar and a historical olive mill, you’re spoilt with reasons to fall in love with this property. The dining room where the home-grown and cooked Italian food is served is just another reason of many. All of the dishes are hearty, and as with all Italian meals, in abundance. There’s no chance of going hungry. From roasted aubergines to hand-made pasta, it’s a delicious feast that will leave you feeling like you’re starring in a medieval banquet. Antique chairs and well-loved crockery are just some of the homely touches that make you feel welcomed around this impressive dinner table.
If you’re more into your wines then you’re in the right place. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch in the dining room, alongside an easy-going, informative wine tasting hour or too. Your ever glass-filling host, Leeann, will teach you about the wines, such as what awards they’ve won (‘Best everyday wine’ and ‘Best wine in Puglia and Basilica’ to name but a few), why they compliment a particular dish, and how they’ve been made.
The grapes for each wine come from the lovingly cared for vineyards. Massaro Rose, is the prime example. It was named by the farmer who nurtured the grapes that made this delicious wine. I think it’s really cute that he was allowed to name it, don’t you?
Each wine is organic (and certified to say so). A lot of effort has gone into to creating just the right blend for the most perfect glass of wine, whether that’s white, red or even rose. However, it’s no snore fest. Leeann feels more like a wise friend than a boring lecturer. Plus, every single wine is outstanding. Even die-hard white wine fans who dislike red wine will walk away loving the red. I’m testament to that claim. In fact, some of the wines from L’Astore Masseria are sold in Berry Bros. & Rudd, a classy wine boutique in London that holds a Royal Warrant for H.M The Queen.
It’s probably of no surprise that you can take part in cookery classes at L’Astore Masseria. Work hand-in-hand with the adorable kitchen goddess to create your own authentic Italian meals using fresh and healthy ingredients.
One of the largest and oldest underground oil mills in Italy, this one has been restored with great class and style. You can simply enjoy a tour around the former mill and sample some delicious Italian olive oils. Better yet, you can use the underground space to hold the party of all parties. If you’re looking for an amazing event space, L’Astore Masseria must be it.
As you walk past the mighty trees that reach up to the sky and through the lovely greenery, you’ll reach the arched gated entrance that leads to the steps down to the mill. As you climb down you’ll notice the square holes in the walls. This is where the olives used to be stored before they were made into oil. The gate on the entrance was used to stop people stealing the olives. Back in those days they were really valuable as oil was used in lamps for light.
Once you reach the bottom you’ll notice four natural caves that have now been dug out. Tools used to create the oil remain on show and the olive wells have been covered with reinforced twinkling glass making for a pretty floor. A wall of columns also make for the perfect picture moment with friends. This place really is an ideal party venue. At the far end you’ll see the barrels of wine sitting pretty, waiting to be bottled and drunk (no doubt at an amazing party like you’d have at L’Astore Masseria).
There are just four bedrooms onsite, yet they feel like suites. Large, rustic bathtubs and sweeping fireplaces make for a cosy, yet indulgent stay. Pretty tiles and travel inspired throws will pull on your travel style heart-strings. By the time you clock on eyes on the vintage luggage trunk being used as a TV stand your heart will well and truly be beating with stylish travel love.
Think chic rustic charm. The rooms are filled with a lot of the Professor’s belongings, so there are some great antiques dotted about the property. Each room has its own personality and style, so you get a sense of homeliness despite it being such a large building. The accommodation area is known as La Foresteria.
Whether you want to visit for lunch, indulge in some wine tasting, learn to cook, hold a special event or to simply have a guided tour (or perhaps all of these things), this estate will certainly hold a place in your heart. If you already have plans to visit Apulia, make sure you pop by. X