ON arrival in Brindisi, we were greeted by a smiling Italian named Carmello, who took our bags and drove us the 40 minutes or so to the Masseria Torre Coccaro, where we were to spend the first two nights of our stay in Puglia.
Coccaro is, like many other boutique hotels in the area, a converted fortified farmhouse dating from the 16th century that had been built to protect the population from the invading Saracens. Now, the inhabitants are wealthy tourists from across the world, with many choosing to stay here on their honeymoons.
The buildings of Coccaro have been converted to create 39 luxury hotel rooms ranging from classic to complete suites (including one with a private heated pool) and all the rooms have been designed to retain the rustic nature of a farmhouse without compromising on the luxury and the modern fittings – the television had Sky and WiFi available on request. The rooms were cool – a blessing, I imagine, in the summer months – and had a shaded outside area with table and chairs.
Coccaro certainly makes the most of its farmhouse origins – the kitchen garden is still very much in use and the chefs pride themselves on sourcing as many ingredients as possible including olive oil from within the grounds. Originally, there was also an olive mill in the underground caves below the farmhouse. These have now been transformed into an Aveda spa with indoor pool, jacuzzi and treatment rooms. The hotel also has an outdoor pool.
Coccaro’s sister hotel, Masseria Torre Maizza, was our port of call for the second two nights. Also a converted farmhouse, this comes across as a much more modern, stylish hotel. The rooms – just as charming from the outside – had much cleaner, more modern pieces of furniture inside and a jacuzzi stand alone bath in our room. From the modern rooms to the nine-hole golf course, it seemed designed more for businessmen on conferences (a service offered by the hotel) than romantic couples. A breakfast was on offer each morning, which included fresh local ricotta, as much fresh fruit as you could eat and Italian pastries galore. The restaurant at Torre Maizza gives you a creative twist on Italian dishes and a sommelier is on hand to advise you on the best wines – Italian, of course.
Bed and breakfast starts at €270 in low season and €410 in high season. www.masseriatorremaizza.com or www.masseriatorrecoccaro.com.