The southern Italy region of Puglia, the heel of the boot, has many unique and historic places to stay. We’ve stayed in a number of interesting places and these are a few of our favorites.
Stay on a Masseria or Farm Estate
Scattered throughout Puglia’s countryside are old family farm estates that have been restored to make lodging, similar to agriturismo in other parts of Italy, often converting buildings that housed workers or animals into guest rooms or self-catering apartments. Masseria lodging ranges from rustic to luxurious and they may have a swimming pool, or even a spa or golf course at the top end. They often provide breakfast and some have a restaurant where you can eat products produced on the farm. In most cases you’ll need a car to stay at a masseria.
My recommended Masseria Lodging:
Masseria Posta Santa Croce
Highly recommended for a real masseria experience, Posta Santa Croce is a family-run farm set among olive trees, with 4 nicely renovated self-catering apartments, a garden, and a large common room with fireplace and kitchen where you can learn to make orecchiette, the traditional pasta. Breakfast is included, there’s enough food in the apartment for the first night’s dinner, and guests can pick vegetables and fruits from the garden.
Posta Santa Croce is a relaxing place in the countryside yet it’s just a short drive to the pretty town of Trani on the coast and is centrally located to visit several interesting places in Puglia including coast towns, the octagonal Castel del Monte, and small, inland towns that don’t see as many tourists.
- Information and reservations: Posta Santa Croce or
Tenuto del Barco
On the Salento Peninsula between Taranto and Gallipoli, Tenuta del Barco is a masseria that produces organic vegetables and fruit for use in their restaurant, olive oil, and very good wine. They have vacation apartments in the renovated farmhouse on the courtyard and rooms in newer cottages in the pine forest as well as their own private beach for guest use about a kilometer away. There’s an excellent restaurant for guests, wine tasting, a swimming pool, a children’s play area, and an activities area with bar and tennis court.
- Information and booking: Tenuta del Barco di Emera.
Masseria Marzalossa, the first farm house in Puglia to receive a permit to provide lodging, dates from the 17th century when it was a large estate producing olive oil. The buildings, once housing workers during the olive harvest, have been very nicely renovated and are surrounded by beautiful gardens. Each guest room is unique. Masseria Marzalossa serves breakfast and has a restaurant, swimming pool, rooftop terrace, and nicely furnished sitting areas for guests, both indoors and out, throughout the property. Marzalossa is in Fasano, between Bari and Brindisi, very near the coast, Alberobello, and the white town of Ostuni.
- Information and booking: Masseria Marzalossa, Fasano
Trulli Hotels and Lodging
Trulli, unique stone houses found in Puglia, especially around the town of Alberobello, are one of the sights most associated with the Puglia region. Many trulli have been turned into hotels or vacation rentals and staying in a trullo (singular) is a unique experience.
Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, about 3 miles from Alberobello, is a large modern hotel with a good restaurant, beautiful grounds, a swimming pool, and a trulli village with 12 renovated trulli dating from the 17th century. We stayed in one of the trulli and although it was comfortable and had a private bath, it was pretty small, as most trulli were. Traditionally trulli had few, if any, windows although small windows are often added during remodeling.
- Information and booking: Grand Hotel La Chiusa di Chietri, Alberobello
The Duchess Sea House
The Duchess Sea House is an attractive apartment on the top floor (no elevator) of the Ducal Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, in the historic center of the coastal town of Giovinazzo, north of Bari. From the private rooftop terrace there are fantastic views of the cathedral, the sea and towns along the coast. The owner, who speaks English, is very helpful and enjoys telling guests about the town and things to do in the area. Except in August, Giovinazzo is not overrun with tourists and it’s a great place to experience local life, watch the fishermen haul in their catch, and relax at a bar on the big main square. Giovinazzo is on the rail line and it’s easy to visit Bari, Trani, and other coast towns by train.
- Web site: The Duchess Sea House
Pizzacato Eco B&B
Bar Pasticceria Pizzicato not only has the best pastries around but they also have four vacation apartments in the picturesque historic center of Vico del Gargano and more modern apartments a short walk from the center. *Vico del Garganoâ€, between the coast and the forest on the Gargano Promontory, is a great place to experience local life and a good base for visiting the highlights of the Gargano region. Breakfast at Bar Pizzicato and an introductory walking tour of Vico with the English-speaking manager are included in the price and other tours can be arranged. While not luxurious the apartments have all the essentials for a short stay and some are furnished with traditional items. From the historic center apartments, there are good views of the valley below.
- Web site: Pizzacato Eco B&B
San Paolo al Convento
San Paolo al Convento is a former convent that has been renovated to make a nice 4-star hotel. It sits on the harbor by the historic center of Trani, a charming town with a castle and Romanesque cathedral by the sea. There’s an internal courtyard where guests can sit outdoors, a large sitting room inside with historic decor, and a breakfast room in what was the chapel. The room I stayed in was comfortable and quiet, and had a large marble bathroom and fantastic view of the cathedral and harbor from the windows.
- Information and booking: Hotel San Paolo al Convento, Trani
Hotel Grotta Palazzese
Although I haven’t stayed at the Grotta Palazzese myself, it’s known for its spectacular setting, perched on the cliffs overlooking the beach in Polignano a Mare. The hotel’s 25 rooms and suites are cut into the tufa stone and are decorated with traditional furniture. Rooms have a balcony with view of either the sea or old town and the hotel has a terrace on the cliffs for sunbathing. Their restaurant, Ristorante Grotta Palazzese, is inside a cave with sea views and is an unusual place to dine.
- Information and Booking: Grotta Palazzese
Disclaimer: I was a provided with free lodging at the masserie and vacation apartments.