Puglia is olive producing country and ancient olive trees grow everywhere on the rocky land. Dotted amongst these olive groves you can find some masseria – old farm houses surrounded by high stone walls. To stay in one is about as Puglian as you can get (unless you want to live in a trulli!) so we decided to hire one out with a group of friends.
We rented Masseria Venere which had its own olive grove, vegie garden and (importantly!) swimming pool. The masseria is brand new with a contemporary fit out which felt like we were staying at a very boutique luxury hotel. Located down a dirt track right in the heart of the Salento region the villa was secluded while still being only fifteen minutes drive from the pretty beach side town of Otranto.
The villa has four bedrooms – three with their own bathrooms. This set up worked well with our group of six adults, one child and three babies. It was really well equipped with everything you could think of provided like good cooking utensils, wifi, pool towels, a “welcome basket” of food for the first day and cots and a high chair for the babies. I’ve stayed at villas before which aren’t so well kitted out and it does make a difference to how enjoyable the whole experience is.
The joy of staying at a villa is being able to actually cook with the wonderful Italian produce. We had some fantastic meals accompanied by many bottles of the local rosé. In particular the tomatoes and mozzarella were packed with flavour – so Capresé salad became our go-to-meal for the stay. For one night we hired a chef through the villa company to cook us dinner. Again this was a very expensive evening but it was a fantastic to eat a multi-course seafood feast in our own villa while the babies all slept in their rooms.
There were a few negatives to the villa with the closest town being non-descript rather than the charming Italian village I imagined, a dearth of local markets nearby forcing us to shop at (shock, horror) the supermarket and the price of the villa was pretty steep. But what we spent on the villa we probably saved in coffee costs – one of my favourite memories of Puglia is standing up at the bar at the little local coffee shops having two espressos for the equivalent of about $3. Ah bella Italia….
Details: Masseria Venere, Carpignano Salentin, Salento, Puglia.
Damage: Budget breaking. The villa cost $4,700/€ 3250 for the week ($1,500 per couple). Which is cheaper than staying at a nice hotel for the week but is still pretty expensive. Hiring a chef for the night cost $867 including all food and drinks.
Kids: Pure Puglia who organised the villa rental were very child friendly providing cots for the babies, a high chair and rocking chair. The pool provided lots of entertainment for big and small kids.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- We flew from London to Bari with Ryanair. We then rented a car and it was just under two hours drive to the villa.
- Highlights of our travels in the region included the beachside town of Otranto, beautiful city of Lecce and hillside town of Ostuni.
- Here’s my post on our favourite places to eat in Puglia.