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Focus on Puglia

The Puglia region comprises the heel of Italy, a peninsula facing three seas: the Mediterranean, the Ionian and the Adriatic. The province has been ruled by Greek, Turkish, Roman and Saracen invaders (to name a few) and displays its long and varied history in elaborate Baroque churches, the signature trulli houses and exquisite meals perfected through generations of multicultural cuisine.

Borgo Egnazia Located near the small fishing village of Savelletri di Fasano, Borgo Egnazia is set back from the indigo Adriatic, which is partially visible from most of the sixty-three hotel rooms, twenty-eight three-bedroom pool villas and ninety-three-room borgo (translation: family-friendly cluster of one- and two-bedroom houses resembling a traditional Italian village). The resort overlooks the eighteen-hole San Domenico Golf Course, as well as the ruins of the ancient city of Egnazia. Architect and owner Aldo Melpignano designed the resort in on the model of a traditional masseria (fortified farmhouse), a style appropriate to this full-scale resort, which contains every luxurious amenity within its tall (locally sourced) tufa-stone walls. The use of indigenous materials reflects the sense of place that is at the heart of the development, which also boasts a mostly local staff and interiors that were designed by Puglia native Pino Brescia. Whites, creams and taupe are featured throughout, and tasteful touches include jars of grain and glass lanterns that seem to cover every flat surface.

Borgo Egnazia is an immensely photogenic hotel, with inviting arches, courtyards and columns that evoke more than a hint of a Moorish palace. The many alfresco spots invite lounging, especially the split-level main pool area, with two enormous pools, a small café and bar and relaxing day beds. This area opens up to the dining terrace of beautiful signature restaurant Due Camini (meaning two fireplaces). Michelin-star chef Mario Musoni presides over the seasonal and local menu with set options for all-inclusive guests as well as à la carte and kids’ menus. There are, naturally, exceptional regional wines on offer, and a charming sommelier on hand for recommendations. Keen chefs and novices can master chef Musino’s dishes at the soon-to-be-opened cooking school in the village complex.

The resort’s popularity with families is bolstered by a fantastic kids’ club, with supervised activities for children aged eight-months to 13- years in the indoor playroom, adventure playground and kids swimming pool. Parents with time-off can relax in the 1,800-square-meter Egnathia Spa boasting a relaxing indoor pool, treatments in the frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium and special midnight-massage events. Outdoors, there are such activities as golfing, tennis, horse riding and biking for the whole family, as well as a complimentary shuttle down to the private beach club, five minutes away. For day trips, the stunning ancient cities of Lecce, Ostuni, Alberobello and Locorotondo are all less than two hours drive from the resort.

Masseria San Domenico If Borgo Egnazia is the Melpignano’s sleek and trendy teenager, then Masseria San Domenico is its chic and sophisticated older sister. Set ten minutes from Borgo on sixty acres of manicured lawns, citrus and hundred-year-old olive orchards, the picturesque Masseria was the Melpignano’s original summer home. In 1990 the family restored the original 13th century fortified farmhouse and made several additions to the property, carefully maintaining its structural authenticity and sense of place.

With only forty-seven rooms and suites (and no children under twelve permitted), the concept behind the Masseria San Domenico is that of an adult-hideaway where pampering and indulgence take center stage. Rooms are spacious, decorated in colorful fabrics and antique furniture that emphasize Marisa Melpignano’s personal style. Deluxe Rooms and Junior Suites offer patios while many Suite categories have views of stunning grounds and Adriatic Sea.

The resort facilities are particularly impressive and include an eighteen-hole championship golf course (adjacent), two tennis courts, a lagoon-shaped swimming pool, private beach club and two-level Thalassotherapy spa – one of the few in Italy. The Masseria also boasts one of the best restaurants in the region (the dining room dates back to the 1700s) and nearly all of its produce and wine are homegrown and the rest are locally sourced.

Despite its undeveloped surrounds, Masseria San Domenico offers a plethora of activities to choose from, including horseback riding, boating, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, biking and scuba diving. Most guests arrive with grand plans, but couldn’t be more content sipping a glass of prosecco at Spiaggia beach club, a rocky pontoon, covered with chaises lounges and steps from the dark blue Adriatic.

Published onAugust 25, 2013

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