Give me the lowdown: Masquerading as a historic Italian village, this film-set-worthy hotel is a make-believe fantasy. It is a recently built, pastoral Italian settlement complete with fortifications, prettily paved alleyways, a bell-towered church and central piazza. Beyond the charade, there are facilities that don’t turn up in typical Italian hamlets, such as four pools, an award-winning restaurant, indoor and al fresco bars, and a spa inspired by Roman thermal baths.
I need more details: It has to be seen to be believed. The family behind the brand run a small Italian hospitality empire, but this jasmine-scented settlement halfway between Bari and Brindisi is the star of their collection. Opened in 2010, Borgo Egnazia’s bougainvillea-draped alleys and lavender-lined pathways have now bedded in nicely, making the fairy-tale feeling of the full-size model Italian village all the more credible. The property blends with the surrounding countryside, thanks to sympathetic architectural design and use of local tufu limestone. At night, the property is at its most magical – candle-lit and citronella scented.
Where do I stay? Accommodation ranges from ‘Casette’ stone cottages and 28 luxurious villas to romantic, minimalist rooms located inside the central La Corte building. All have a contemporary, Mediterranean feel with cool stone floors, white linen furnishings and a spacious, easy-living feel. The rope-strung room keys, lavender posies on shelves, and olive grove views add to the countryside chic. Access to two private beaches (one shingled, one sandy) is via shuttle service.
Dining out: With seven restaurants across the estate, there’s more choice than in most Italian villages. Top of the list is the romantic Due Camini where Puglian chef Domingo Schingaro plates up regional classics using sun-ripened produce grown on the estate. A more rustic experience is offered at Trattoria La Frasca. Then, there’s crisp, wood-oven pizza at Pizzeri and beach-side seafood at Cala Masciola.
Anything else I should know? Bikes are available for guests to use. Cycle your way around the coastal plains, or head out to San Domenico golf course that is considered one of the best in Italy. The work of architect Andy Haggar, it sits between the hotel and the sea, and promises Adriatic views at every tee.