Masseria Torre Coccaro, Puglia, Italy
Puglia – the large agricultural region at the heel of Italy’s boot – is still very much a working land, dotted with ancient olive groves, orchards and traditional trulli stone houses. It feels very rustic, rural and unchanged. It’s also home to some seriously great masserias – farmhouses-turned-hotels.
A mile inland from the Adriatic, in the heart of the Apulian countryside, is the five-star Masseria Torre Coccaro – a luxury hotel serving excellent native Apulian cuisine. The Masseria dates back to the 16th century, when its buildings served as a garrison against the marauding Turks, and the hotel is still very much a working farm. Its position between agricultural land and sea ensures ingredients are fresh and plentiful – vegetables are dug straight from the farm’s organic patch, meat comes from the farm’s animals and the masseria makes all its own pasta, cheeses, jams and olive oil.
Dishes are cooked in the traditional way, using a wood-burning oven and clay pots, and in summer, dinner is served in the romantic candlelit courtyard. When we visited, we were treated to some of Natale’s fabulous Martini cocktails, followed by endless tasting dishes of broad bean purée and prawns, orecchiette pasta with broccoli, griddled lamb and potatoes, and homemade cheesecake, all washed down with glasses of local Primitivo and Placeo Chardonnay.
The hotel has its own private beach club and restaurant (accessed by private shuttle – so you don’t need to take the car), so after sunning yourself by the pristine Salento waters and snacking on oysters and sushi at the lunch bar, you can hop on board a private yacht and sail to nearby coves for a dip before being whisked back to the Masseria in time for supper at sunset.
The bedrooms make cool and peaceful havens to come back to – all crisp linens, white-washed walls, antique furniture and views out to sea. Two are even housed in caves. The former watchtower is now an Aveda spa, and budding chefs can try their hand at regional culinary techniques at the hotel’s cookery school. There’s also a riding centre and beach-style outdoor pool in the grounds.
Address: Masseria Torre Coccaro, C. da Coccaro 8, Puglia (00 39 080 482 9310, www.masseriatorrecoccaro.com).
Rates: Doubles from 278 Euros per night, including breakfast.
Foodie diversion: Head into nearby Monopoli for more local fare at Osteria Perricci. Or visit Ostuni – a beautiful little Grecian town with cavernous bars and outdoor restaurants.
Come here for: Mind-blowing wine, good ol’ Italian home cooking, and a culinary education.
Photos by Masseria Torre Coccarro