On an olive estate of more than 100 acres, down a 1/2-km drive, you leave behind what’s already quite a remote strip of coast north of Brindisi to find a pleasantly spread-out ‘campus’ of solid stone buildings, the centerpiece a foursquare medieval watch tower put up by the Knights of Malta. To go, for example, from your room to the breakfast room could be a 50-m walk or longer across handsome, extensive paving stones.
As you head away from the hub to the outdoor dining area and swimming pool, you’ll notice intriguing lumps of rock erupting here and there – this part of Italy is famously stony and flat. Peace prevails: there are relatively few guests (40 bedrooms) for such a large space, and apparently endless private corners and sitting areas.
The huge pool is the focal point, with lightly salinated pale blue water, so as not to rely so much on chemicals as other pools. One side of the pool is a naturally landscaped rocky area, where boulders extend right into the water. Close by is a group of eight fine, mature palms. The grounds are beautifully maintained in solid good taste: old olives with grotesquely contorted trunks, some branches lovingly supported on plinths; hairy old fig trees; and prickly pears loaded in autumn with yellow-red fruits some of which end up on your dessert plate. It’s a working estate, but well thought out for guests, who are an international crowd, mostly 50-80, but a sprinkling of well off thirty to forty-somethings. Service is 100 per cent efficient, genuinely polite and not intimidating.
If you like a fish-only menu, try Nassa the hotel’s satellite restaurant five minutes away by shuttle on the beach, done out in achingly cool seaside chic style.