We’re head over heels for Masseria Corsano at the sharp end of the Salento stiletto in southern Italy. It’s close to not one, but three Baroque beauties: latte-coloured Lecce and undiscovered (for now) Nardò, as well as Gallipoli, a fishing village on the edge of the Ionian, pine-forest reserves that lead to a pebbly shore and white-sand/cyan-water Caribbean-rivalling beaches. The 17th-century farmhouse has been restored to more than its former glory – we’re guessing the beds weren’t this comfortable or the bathrooms this salubrious back then. It probably didn’t have a pool bar beneath a pergola, hot tubs in every suite or a slick restaurant either…
Double rooms from £295.77 (€345), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include breakfast.
One of Masseria Corsano’s suites has been specially adapted for wheelchair users and all of the communal areas are accessible. The masseria's sister property Palazzo Giusti is coming soon to downtown Lecce.
The masseria opens for the summer season from the start of April until the end of October.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, gym, padel court, bicycles to borrow. In rooms: coffee machine and kettle, 55-inch TV, minibar, air-conditioning, pool towels and Bulgari bath products.
Our favourite rooms
If you want to channel Rapunzel and let down your hair, Masseria Corsano obliges in the form of its Tower Suite, with panoramic views of its surroundings.
The outdoor pool is open for swims around the clock and there are several sunloungers and cabanas to stake out during sunlight hours.
As with most other things, ‘spa’ sounds way better in Italian: the masseria’s Villa Benessere (translation: wellbeing villa) has indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools, a sauna, steam-room, Turkish bath, sensory showers and massage cabins.
Between the Technogym equipment, bicycles, padel court and extensive acreage, not to mention the surrounding national parks, there are plenty of opportunities to work up a sweat, so don’t forget the athleisurewear.
The masseria's sister property Palazzo Giusti is coming soon to downtown Lecce.
All ages are welcome. Babysitting can be booked (from €30 an hour), depending on availability.
Plastic bottles have been swapped out for glass ones in the bar, restaurant and minibars; fruit and vegetables are grown on-site, with everything else sourced as locally as possible; and solar panels supply some of the masseria’s energy.
Stick to your sunlounger or cabana – the refreshments can come to you.
As floaty, wafty and drifty as possible for gliding around the pool area.
The homegrown-hero chef showcases Salento cuisine, with many of the ingredients either grown on-site or coming from nearby. Since the sun is likely to be shining, the restaurant can have its roof removed – and it extends out onto a pergola by the pool. Breakfasts are à la carte, with traditional pastries, homemade cakes and international favourites all served to set you up for the day.
The Italian tradition of aperitivo (which puts the British equivalent of a meagre bowl of peanuts to shame) is alive and well at 32 Lounge Bar, where drinks can be served with enough snacks to make you lose your appetite for dinner. Mediterranean botanicals and home-made ingredients regularly frequent the cocktails around here.
The restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
In-suite sustenance can be served from 7am until 11pm.
Masseria Corsano is in the heel of Italy’s boot, AKA Puglia or, more specifically, Salento, right down south. The former farmhouse is near Nardò; and a short drive from the fishing village of Gallipoli and creamy-latte-coloured Lecce.
Salento’s main airport is Brindisi, 80 kilometres away from the masseria. The drive should take around an hour (allow 90 minutes in high season). It’s also an option to land a little further north in Bari, two hours away by car. The hotel can arrange transfers from either airport.
If you’re coming by train, Lecce has a station with connections to major cities across southern as well as northern Italy. The onwards drive to the masseria should take around half an hour – transfers can be arranged on request.
If you’re hoping to see the Salento Peninsula’s sleepy villages, golden towns and breezy beaches, a car will be useful – there’s free parking just steps from your suite.
Worth getting out of bed for
Masseria Corsano has local experts on hand, who can arrange everything from wine and cheese tastings and cooking classes to yoga, walking tours of Lecce and Otranto, and a spot of coastal horse-riding. You’ll also be able to set sail on the Ionian on a boat trip from Gallipoli (or take to it by stand-up paddle board); and the team will gladly point you in the direction of the best nearby hiking and cycling trails. The latter is likely to take place at nearby national park Porto Selvaggio, a pine forest that leads to the shore. Beaches in reach include Porto Cesareo, Ugento and the porcine-sounding (but thankfully not -tasting or -smelling) Punta Proscuitto, which, yes, does translate as ‘Ham Point’ but is so far from a sty. If you have a preference between rocky and sandy, be sure to check first, as Salento has both. For ceramic stockpiling, the town of Grottaglie is where to take a healthy shipping budget; and don’t miss fishing village Gallipoli, for sea-urchin slurping from the market, and local secret Nardò.
You’re never far from a good meal in Puglia: gifts the region has given the world include burrata, orecchiette and taralli (AKA the best aperitivo accompaniment ever) – the cucina povera is actually rich. Easy-to-reach places to eat chicory and fava beans include A Casa Tu Martinu in Taviano. For seafood with a sea view, head to Art Nouveau in Santa Maria del Bagno, just south of Nardò, which is where you'll find Sirà and its modern take on Salento cuisine. And for the seaside dining that the Italians do best, locate the classic Lo Scalo in Marina di Novaglie, which has had the same family at the helm since it opened its hospitable doors in 1968.
If you want a change of scene from the masseria’s poolside, the concierge will tip you off about the nearest buzzy beach club, such as Bahia in Porto Cesareo and Lido Punta della Suina, both of which will keep dispensing refreshing local rosé while you top up your rays.
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 former-farmhouse hotel in southern Italy and unpacked their olive oil and paint-splattered ceramics, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Masseria Corsano in Salento…
The good life awaits at Masseria Corsano, where the surrounding farmland has been tended to since the 17th century. The arable landscape is dotted with carob trees, prickly pear plants, olive groves and orchards, flower-draped pergolas and a seasonal vegetable garden. The farmhouse’s co-ordinates mean an excellent vantage point for both sunrise and sunset. Each suite has a hot tub, along with linens, beds, and stone (for the chic bathrooms) of the highest quality (discreet luxury was the moodboard).
The restoration also preserved the ancient masseria’s muretti a secco – the low wall that surrounds the estate. And, you may be in the middle of the countryside, but there’s nothing rustic around here: it’s all very slick and modern, especially the stellar service from the warm, friendly staff. Old and new have been blended seamlessly, with the historic part of the masseria at the heart – only now with added infinity and plunge pools, a slicker-than-average restaurant and a poolside pergola.