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10 magnificent masserie for a peaceful escape to Puglia

Kate Bolton
Masseria Trapana is a 16th-century farmhouse repurposed into a sophisticated eight-suite hotel with verdant walled gardens

For those who find Italy’s most visited landscapes – the ‘sweet Tuscan hills’, the lakes of Lombardy, and the Ligurian gulfs – too manicured or simply too crowded, Puglia’s jagged coastline and earth-red plains studded with gnarled olive trees offer a wilder, unkempt beauty. Scattered across the area are robust masserie – historic, fortified farm estates built in chunky limestone, painted brilliant white. Architecturally, they are fabulously exotic places where Greek, Moorish and Spanish influences bear witness to Puglia’s eclectic past. Here's our pick of the best masserie in Puglia.

Masseria Torre Coccaro, Puglia

Masseria Torre Coccaro

Savelletri, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

A five-star hotel built around a 16th-century farmhouse, set amid ancient olive groves between Fasano and the coast. The property was formerly a large, fortified farm complete with watchtower, built to fend off invading Turks. Its limestone buildings have been sensitively adapted to retain plenty of rustic charm. Remnants of troughs can be found in the chic bedrooms, while underground caves once used as olive mills are now an Aveda spa. This family-friendly masseria also offers cooking classes, several restaurants and two private beach clubs, as well as a packed programme of activities ranging from private yoga lessons on a rooftop terrace to horse riding. Read expert review From £178 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Torre Maizza, Puglia, Italy

Masseria Torre Maizza

Savelletri, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

This member of Rocco Forte’s portfolio of luxury hotels is a dashing Puglian masseria complete with chivalric medieval tower, Moorish-style arched and vaulted outhouses (now forming a restaurant and bar). Set against Puglia’s burning blue sky, the place is a symphony of light and colour: cool white walls, hot-pink bougainvillea, turquoise water, emerald-green grass. Here you can putt your way round the nine-hole golf course, sweat it out in the open-air fitness area, cool off in the beautiful Roman-inspired pool (edged with vine-shaded stone pillars), or rejuvenate in the little spa where well-trained staff offer yoga lessons, massages and treatments. Read expert review From £306 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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masseria san domenico

Masseria San Domenico

Savelletri, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

This exotic looking 15th-century masseria, now a five-star hotel, epitomises the southern Italian ‘buon ritiro’ – an idyllic retreat. Once the watch-tower of the medieval Knights of Malta, it's a real oasis with its palm trees and turquoise lagoon-pool. Inside the chivalric masseria are elegant vaulted halls and lounges; outside are courtyards and loggias draped in bougainvillea and jasmine, lush lawned gardens and olive groves. The pièce-de-resistance is the vast sea-water lagoon-pool – an oasis of sparkling water, rocks and palm trees. San Domenico also benefits from an excellent wellness centre specialising in Thalassotherapy (using sea water). Read expert review From £309 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Trapana, Puglia

Masseria Trapanà

Surbo, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

A 16th-century farmhouse repurposed into a sophisticated eight-suite hotel with verdant walled gardens, heavy with cacti, ferns and more than 500 orange and lemon trees. The restoration of Trapanà has remained faithful to the bones of the old building. The original taupe, tufo stone and arched ceilings are modernised through the use of glass walls, huge fresh flower displays and thick-pile colourful rugs. It’s all in the detail: pom pom-edged towels in rooms, striped throws by the pool, umbrellas by the door – everything in the signature stamp of tangerine orange. The peaceful swimming pool is surrounded by large daybeds and shaded by plum trees. It’s about 20 minutes by car to Lecce. Read expert review From £259 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Il Frantoio, Puglia

Masseria Il Frantoio

Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

Stepping into the paved courtyard of this 500 year-old farmhouse is like stepping back in time. Cicadas chirrup in the singing heat and clouds of shocking pink bougainvillea drape down whitewashed walls. Guests read quietly in cane armchairs beneath citrus and palm trees and welcome drinks beckon from cool, darkened lounges furnished with elegant country dressers, fascinating rustic antiques and invitingly plump sofas. There are 16 rooms scattered throughout the main house and various interlinked structures squaring off the main courtyard. They are all full of character, featuring terracotta tiled floors, vaulted limestone ceilings and stone fireplaces. Read expert review From £113 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Cervarolo, Puglia, Italy

Masseria Cervarolo

Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

A stylish 16th-century farmhouse and trulli conversion overlooking a lagoon-like swimming pool outside the medieval hillside city of Ostuni. Cacti and bougainvillea offset the muscular white walls, behind which you’ll find hidden courtyards, comfy antique-and-book bedecked communal areas and a chapel. Owners, the Avellinos, are affable, hands-on hosts, always ready with a suggestion for a wine-tasting excursion, a day at the beach, or a meal in Ostuni – if you can drag yourself away from the pool: an undulating blue lagoon surrounded by grassy terraces and sunbeds. The most sought-after rooms are the cocoon-like Junior Suites of the trulli. Read expert review From £99 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Cimino, Savelletri, Puglia, Italy

Masseria Cimino

Savelletri, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

An 18th-century farmhouse, near the coast, which was once an old resting stop for travellers along the Appian way. Come here for an authentic slice of Puglian rural living (with high-quality bedsheets). The masseria is located next to the ruins of the ancient metropolis of Egnazia, in what was a big rural estate. Hints of its agricultural past are displayed through the lines of farming tools and cacti leaves hung on the white walls of the reception area. It’s a photogenic place. Bicycles are available to explore the surrounding groves and Egnazia, or you can head to the nearby Masciola Beach Club (for a fee) – which belongs to sister hotel Borgo Egnazia. Read expert review From £162 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Moroseta, Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

Masseria Moroseta

Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

A modernist take on a traditional Puglian masseria which welcomes guests with open arms (and a decent negroni). The property was designed by architect and design magazine editor Andrew Trotter, who has taken facets of the region’s historic masserie ­– white tufo stone, a respect for both indoors and out, and plenty of communal areas ­– and updated it. The buildings are boxy, and together with curved lines and huge windows, provide a striking contrast against the blue sky and surrounding countryside. Cacti abound. Italian owner Carlo is the picture of Italian hospitality (and his pet bulldog Beppe only adds to the place's charm). It's less than a 10-minute drive from the centre of the hilltop white town of Ostuni. Read expert review From £155 per night

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Masseria Amastuola Wine Resort, Puglia

Masseria Amastuola Wine Resort

Crispiano, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

Gathered round a vast central quad are the ancient manor and farmhouse – all thick block walls in sun-bleached limestone – plus a chapel, tower, stables and rural outbuildings. The whole pile has been impeccably converted by Apulian architect Vito Rezza, whose minimalist approach lets the masseria’s spaces breathe. Interiors exploit the land’s natural materials: wood and iron, terracotta and stone, and – above all – light, filtered through pierced-iron grilles and walls of amber wine-bottles. In the surrounding grounds, eminent landscape designer Fernando Caruncho offsets the rectilinear architecture with undulating vineyards planted in waves, from which rise islands of ancient olive trees. Read expert review From £111 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

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Masseria Le Carrube hotel, Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

Masseria Le Carrube

Ostuni, Puglia, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

Masseria le Carrube was once a frantoio – an olive oil production mill – and has retained much of its rustic charm. Bougainvillea and vines grow on the whitewashed walls and throughout the courtyards, which are framed with lemon trees and cacti. Inside, lanterns hang from the original high stone vaulted ceilings. Open fireplaces abound and a giant olive press is the focal point in the restaurant. The décor is natural and neutral, with wooden and wicker furnishings and original frantoio artefacts. There is a feeling of space throughout the hotel and an array of seating areas to relax both inside and outside. Read expert review From £122 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

Contributions by Clare Speak, Paula Hardy, Hayley Lewis & Jade Conroy