If the Italian countryside promises abundance, then intimate boutique stay Masseria Calderisi is very generous indeed. This former Puglian farmhouse, which dates back to the 17th century, has just 24 rooms (and oodles of space throughout), but grounds that widely fan out into a leafy buffer between a private beach and charming commune Fasano. It’s fertile ground for groves of all kinds, a giving kitchen garden for authentic Apullian feasts, and space to bike, swim and sip Aperol Spritzes. Rustic it may be, but there’s no getting your hands dirty (unless you take a cookery class): country decor feels fresh and modern, buzzy beachlife is close by, and the Moorish roof terrace is set for stargazing. Whether you’ve a budding romance or want a full-bloom honeymoon, this fruitful stay will grow on you.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2.30pm.
Double rooms from $655.75 (€557), including tax at 5 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include a hearty breakfast buffet. Plus, you’ll get free shuttle rides and access to the beach club. A city tax of €5 a night for the first five nights applies to over-12s from July to August, otherwise it’s €3 for the first three nights.
The hotel’s grounds are impressive in many ways, but the centuries-old olive groves deserve special commendation for their stamina – they're still the source of the hotel’s flavourful olive oil, which is made using an ancient underground press.
Substantial Covid-19 precautions are in place. Tables in the restaurant and sunloungers by the pool are socially distanced, strict hygiene protocols are observed and staff are frequently tested. And, many things that make the hotel magical – intimate size, outdoor living and dining – make it that much safer.
The hotel closes from 1 November to the end of March each year, aside from two weeks over the festive period.
At the hotel
Private beach, spa, olive grove, kitchen garden, gym, bikes to borrow for free, laundry service, plug adaptors and beach bags on request, free WiFi. In rooms: satellite TV, Marshall Bluetooth speaker, Nespresso machine, minibar, air-conditioning, beach bag and Le Labo bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Bathed in sunlight and brightly white within, rooms feel open yet cosy; however, you’ll most likely be drawn to your private terrace or garden. Flashes of bleached antique stone nod to the Masseria’s heritage, as do the suite names, which tell a tale of busy farm life and past skirmishes with Saracens (the Tower Suite was once a lookout point). Less dramatic, but no less lovely, is the Stable Suite, which has its own sitting room, large glass doors and oil-painting views.
Sheltered by stacked-stone walls, with views of olive groves, the large outdoor heated and chlorinated pool (open from 10am to 6.30pm, from April till October) sparkles in the sun. There are sunloungers round the side, parasol-shaded with cheery yellow-striped towels laid out on them, and a casual pool bar where you can get cocktails, wines and a pizza paddled straight out of the oven if you feel peckish. A lifeguard keeping watch means little ones can learn how to swim safely here.
There’s a duo of treatment rooms, decorated in earthy hues with bamboo furnishings, where all manner of massages, facials and Ayurvedic treatments take place – using deliciously scented all-natural Pevonia products, plus herbs from the garden – which can be customised to your needs. There’s a gym too, with top-drawer Technogym equipment (treadmill, bikes, workout bench) and free yoga sessions (or charged Pilates classes) are held in the scenic surrounds of the olive groves or on the roof terrace (with a spell of meditation for good measure).
Bring your yoga gear, but don’t bother with a bulky mat – the hotel will provide them. Other suitcase additions will depend on how you wish to pass the time, so perhaps hike-ready footwear? A nautical windbreaker? Wine-tasting hat? A few good books will be welcome as you laze by the pool or on your terrace; if you’ve had Virgil’s pastoral Eclogues poem on the back burner (and who doesn’t?), the setting is as evocative as they come.
The hotel is all laid out on one level, so it’s easily wheelchair accessible, and the Il Cortiletto room is specially adapted for guests with mobility issues.
Welcome but there are few activities geared towards them aside from pizza-making classes and petting the resident donkeys. Babysitting (€25 an hour; one day’s notice is required) is available. Throughout August the hotel is for over-11s only.
The hotel is plastic-free, uses all-natural cleaning products and supports local growers, farmers, fishers and makers – most furnishings are courtesy of Puglian artisans. Plentiful organic produce is grown in the hotel’s gardens and groves, too, and staff at every level are local hires.
Private dinners can be arranged amid the perfectly private, achingly romantic olive or citrus groves, or on the sunset-facing terrace.
La Corte is the main hotel eatery with tables laid out over a pergola-shaded piazza, enhanced with plenty of Mediterranean greenery. And the church-like vaulted dining room (originally the Masseria’s hay store), painted in ivory with exposed original brick work, has sunken cubbies displaying lemon-filled vitrines and cactus leaves hung from the walls. Chef Pietro Sgaramella is as in tune with the seasons as a flock of migrating birds, and frequently pillages the garden for fresh herbs and fruit and vegetables, from peperoncini to pomegranates, to make dishes that reflect the environs. He’s canny to the area’s best suppliers for anything that can’t be grown onsite, too. Giola is the much more laidback bar by the pool, where alongside crisp wines and fruity cocktails, you can order freshly-fired pizzas, fruit salads and scoops of homemade ice-cream.
Giola Pool Bar’s cheery lemon-striped booth, surrounded by citrus trees, is a sunny beacon to those seeking refreshment. There’s a handful of stools if you’re feeling sociable, or plentiful parasol-shaded tables. The cocktail list has a reliable choice of classics (mai tais, white Russians, boulevardiers), but top wines pretty much run on tap in this part of the world. And Apero Bar feels like a Moroccan roof terrace with its decorative lanterns and cosy cushioned corners where lovers can get snuggly. By day, it's a laidback spot for an aperitivo (ask for the Calderisi Special), and after-dark it's just right for stargazing.
At La Corte, breakfast runs from 7.30am to 10.15pm and dinner is served from 7.30pm till 10.30pm. Lunching at Giola starts at 12.30pm and finishes at 3.30pm. Drink at La Corte Bar till 12.30am and at Giola till 6.30pm.
The concierge will happily arrange in room dining any time, day or night. The menu is smaller, but full of tasty Apulian charcuterie and cheeses, stacked sandwiches, salads and sweets.
Just a five-minute drive from beautiful Le Macchie beach and the rustic town of Fasano, Masseria Calderisi sits amid olive groves and farmland on Italy’s ‘heel’.
Brindisi is the closest airport, a 40-minute drive from the hotel. There are direct flights from major cities throughout Europe; those arriving from further afield will need to stopover. The hotel can arrange transfers from €120 each way. Alternatively fly into Bari, an hour’s drive away.
If you’re arriving from Lecce or Bari, you can catch the train to Fasano station, which is just a five-minute drive from the hotel (a transfer to the hotel is €30 one way). The journey takes around an hour and you can buy tickets via Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com).
Puglia excels in many ways, but public transport is not one of them – for zipping through the countryside (convertible optional) you’ll need a set of wheels. Bari and Brindisi airports both have hire booths, and valet parking is included in your stay. The drive from Brindisi along the E55 route is especially lovely, with panoramic views of the Adriatic and a stretch through the Dune Costiere natural park.
Worth getting out of bed for
When you’re not lazing in the Apullian sun on the roof terrace or idly floating in the pool, roll up your sleeves and get in the kitchen. During the hotel’s cooking classes you’ll gather ingredients from the garden and be led by the chef in pasta- and soup-making and bread and almond-biscuit baking, before sitting down to a meal made by yours truly. If that sounds like hard work, opt for an olive-oil or wine tasting – of the latter the primitivo proved remarkably moreish. Wellness-seekers should hit the spa for scented healing – a candle-wax massage, perhaps? Or join a yoga or meditation session in the olive and citrus groves.
Le Macchie is the hotel’s private beach. A shuttle runs guests out and there’s always a free lounger and staff to bring you repeat Aperol Spritzes. With golden sand and the Adriatic’s trademark aquamarine waters, it’s a lovely place to just be, but you can join a game of beach volleyball if you’ve flopped for too long. The hotel also has a fleet of restored Turkish fishing boats that can be hired for day trips; aperitivi are served on board as Italian music plays and you can sunbathe, seek out hidden coves and quaint villages or simply take a cooling dip as and when you want.
You needn’t travel far to come across Roman remnants; Via Appia, which indeed does lead to Rome (from Brindisi) passes by this stretch of coast. But, you didn’t come all this way to look at a knobbly highway – however significant it is – no, you want to see the straight-from-a-fantasy-epic trulli and dazzling churches of Alberello, the gleaming Baroque buildings of ‘white town’ (although more of a hilltop village) Ostuni, or the mysterious sassi of Bari. The hotel can arrange an English-speaking guide if you want to dig deeper during your visit.
The orecchiette-making skills of the hotel’s chef alone will keep you coming back for more, but the neighbourhood has several masserias with interesting gastronomic takes, so it’s worth tearing yourself away for a meal or two. Smith stablemate Masseria Torre Maizza has a chandelier-strung dining room with a checkerboard floor and arched white ceilings. The menu is equally elegant, elevating simple local pastas and meat and fish dishes – try the pasta with mussels and cheese fondue and the salt-crusted seabass. At Masseria San Domenico, the former olive press has been turned into a delightfully antique eatery with a huge fireplace. Dishes are divvied up by season, but ingredients stay staunchly local. A little to the north, another Smith favourite, La Peschiera has a whopping seven pools, and goes big with its dining too, naturally excelling in fish. Here, your langoustines, mussels, snapper and more come with a side of glittering sea views. A 20-minute drive away in Ostuni, half butcher’s shop, half trattoria Roticceria L’Antico does excellent bombette among other meaty picks. And, further south in Otranto (about a 90-minute drive), L’Altro Baffo serves seafood in its own unique way, with dishes such as black bread in squid ink sauce, sea-urchin carbonara and swordfish parmigiana.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this high-yield hotel in the Italian countryside and unpacked their bottle of the Masseria’s hand-pressed olive oil and Apullian pottery, a full account of their rustic revelry will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Masseria Calderisi in Puglia…
Farming has been the lifeblood of Puglian boutique hotel Masseria Calderisi since the 17th century, and while it’s adopted some Myconian- or Mallorcan-style beachy swagger (private beach-in-reach Le Macchie is quite the chic hangout), it’s a passion with a strong pulse still. After all, here you’re surrounded by flourishing olive, citrus and almond groves, beds bursting with riotously hued flowers, and a kitchen garden whose ability to feed many – and well – rivals that of the average nonna. But this thriving sense of life is felt indoors too, where proud bowls of lemons and pomegranates, strings of dried chillies, garlic bulbs, and deliriously fragrant herbs and plants teased up walls make the bright white interiors feel like a Botticelli painting. And, if this top-of-the-crops look makes you feel peckish, be reassured that it’s no agrarian posturing – romantic restaurant La Corte delivers with seasonal dishes that make full use of the farm’s spoils, while freshly-paddled pizzas and home-churned gelato are delightful at casual poolside eatery Giola. If you’re not fully immersed in this cottagecore fantasy yet, days spent seeking scenery by bike, horse or boat; trips to trulli and Puglia’s ‘white towns’; and vineyard hopping will fully carry you away.