If you only stay in one place in Puglia (a southern area of Italy), make sure it is Masseria Cervarolo. It’s one of those places that you fall in love with as soon as you set eyes on it. I’ve already planned my return visit and it can’t come soon enough.
The place is so effortlessly stylish and classy that it’s not really very surprising that the owner, Teo, oozes that famous Italian appeal. He’s as easy on the eye as the rooms, yet he doesn’t take advantage of his good looks. He’s the most down to earth and welcoming host; he’ll sit with you in the luxurious, homely kitchen laughing and chatting in broken English, yet he knows when to leave you to do your own thing or when his attention is needed elsewhere (even if it’s simply to help the waiters). I can’t imagine how stunning and lovely his wife must be.
In fact, it’s surprising that the two of them haven’t buckled with the sheer hard work and dedication it has taken to restore this thirteenth century property. “Never again!” he exclaims. It has taken five years and nearly three million Euros to transform the derelict masseria (think of it as a piece of land in the countryside with a series of small stone buildings – like a farmhouse, but without the animals). However, there is one very special animal at Masseria Cervarolo. Leonida is the friendly canine guardian of the property. Check in at reception and he will then escort you to your room.
Pah! Room? That doesn’t do it justice. This place has the perfect balance of making it feel like you have your very own private quarters, whilst also feeling incredibly homely -admittedly, a very stylish and fashionable home. I walked round the masseria wanting to roll the rugs up to borrow them for my own home. Teo tells me they’re from Turkey. Don’t even get me started on the beautiful linen and hessian drapes , or turquoise stained antique ladders. “Oh, these? They’re just from Bari, the capital city of Puglia.” Well, that was enough to send me on a shopping treasure hunt on my last day.
You’d think that Elle magazine had just finished shooting one of the double-page spreads at Masseria Cervarolo, but it’s simply thanks to the super cool taste of the owners. They really have an eye for detail. They also have a taste for good drinks and the adorable honesty bar is the perfect spot to unwind. Simply help yourself to a famous Italian coffee or even something a little stronger, and pop your money into the pot. Their generosity continues in the lounge area. Piles of books fill the shelves and inviting armchairs urge you to take some time out. It’s a lovely welcoming feeling.
Masseria Cervarolo stands out for another reason. Trulli. A trullo (the term used for one trulli) is a word used to describe the legendary circular stone-shaped buildings that are adorned with cone roofs. Trulli can only be found in Puglia and are so special that even UNESCO has given them the stamp of being noteworthy. Although the usual rooms are breathtaking, it must be absolutely amazing to stay overnight in one of the trulli, especially a stylish one at Masseria Cervarolo. It’s not surprising at all that they were booked up during my visit. If you have your heart set on staying in one of the four chic trulli, book in advance. If you really want to be impressed, request the spacious master trulli.
Sun worshippers will love spending their days around the pool. It was made to match the shape and space of the natural water basin. In fact, earthy souls will be full of praise for this eco-friendly property. Solar panels (cleverly hidden in the car park) capture enough light to generate energy for the masseria and the remaining 50% to generate income from sales. Clearly, a smart team.
Foodies will love the cookery classes in the stunning open plan, stone-walled kitchen. Learn from the Italian experts to make simple, but absolutely tasty and fresh dishes. If cooking isn’t your thing, you’ll most definitely enjoy eating the delicious breads, pastas and salads. It’s true what they say – Italians love a feast. Every meal is lovingly prepared and whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, one thing is for sure – it will be a sumptuous banquet at Masseria Cervarolo.
For an authentic and creative Italian experience, you can also learn how to make olive soap. There are about sixty million olive trees in Puglia, so there is no shortage of materials. Bring a large suitcase because you can also spend an afternoon learning how to make pretty baskets just using branches.
If you hire a car (which I’d recommend), you can drive 10 minutes to the centre of the White City, officially known as Ostuni. It’s an enchanting village of white-washed buildings that frame the winding, climbing cobbled streets. Michelin star restaurants hide in tiny doorways that lead to arched cute dining spaces. Ostuni is just waiting for you to get lost looking for its treasures.
However, I could quite happily spend all of my time in my new and improved home (away from home), Masseria Cervarolo. Rooms are from as little as £130, so I’m pretty sure you’ll be one of my neighbours too. Good times. X