Standing since the 16th century, Masseria Torre Maizza watches over a Pugliese plot that’s studded with ancient olive trees and within sight of the Adriatic Sea. The whitewashed masseria was comprehensively reclothed by designer Olga Polizzi, who spliced traditional Pugliese art and crafts with contemporary Italian design. Her elegant rooms and suites retain just the right amount of rustic edge, dressed with pale stone, warm woods and leafy patterns that seem borrowed from the surrounding countryside. This fertile landscape figures just as prominently at the restaurant, where the ingredients are staunchly local and the meals tinged with the carefree glamour of the south-Italian coast. A spa, oversized pool, cookery school and golf course are among the other diversions, and you’re a short shuttle from the hotel’s suave beachclub and the quaint fishing town of Savelletri.
11, though this is flexible on request; earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £414.11 (€451), including tax at 10 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 breakfast.
The housekeeping staff can stock your minibar with a classic or healthy selection – just let the hotel know which you'd prefer. If you've got kids in tow, they can create a child-friendly version, too.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, library, golf course, private beach, beach club, free WiFi, laundry service. In rooms: Smart TV, air-conditioning, minibar, bath products by Irene Forte Skincare.
Our favourite rooms
Even the smallest rooms have luxurious bed linen, Pugliese art and bathrooms clad in Trani stone. If you're happy to splash, swing for one of the Deluxe Suites with a Plunge Pool. These spacious suites have stylish living areas and heritage features like original vaulted ceilings – best of all, though, is the sun-bathed terrace with a pool overlooking the gardens and olive groves. If you want a private terrace but can do without the spacious living area, book a Deluxe Room with Terrace and Garden.
The large outdoor pool is flanked by vine-wreathed pergolas, making it feel like the centrepiece of a walled garden. Sunloungers run along the sides, and there's a large deck at the far end.
The hotel has a signature Rocco Forte Spa using products from Irene Forte's luxury skincare brand. The suave look and placid feel is inspired by the family's Mediterranean heritage, and the signature treatments are an ode to the local landscape and its produce.
Cycling kit, jodhpurs and a set of golf clubs would all be welcome additions to your luggage, as would a good book – the thick, gnarled olive trees make for shady reading spots.
The historic layout and lack of adapted rooms make the hotel unsuitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome. Extra beds can be added to certain rooms and suites for an extra charge.
They take green issues very seriously at Masseria Torre Maizza. Everything possible is recycled – including the water used to keep the golf course green – and most of the food is grown on site.
For something really special, ask the concierge about setting up a private table beneath the stars.
Think softly tailored separates and supple leather accessories.
Dining at Masseria Torre Maizza is a quintessentially south-Italian affair. Choose from the vaulted dining room or the vine-wreathed garden pergola, where the tables are perfumed by an orchard of orange and lemon trees. Rocco Forte’s culinary director Fulvio Pierangelini has created a fine-dining menu that is unmistakably Apulian in its lean, with the ingredients coming from either the hotel's own gardens or local farmers and fishmongers. The accompanying wine list is full of choice Italian vintages, including many of the best local bottles. If you're after something casual but equally Italian, settle at the poolside pizzeria.
One look at the rooftop bar and you know it was designed with sundowners in mind – the panoramic vistas stretch from the mossy hills behind the estate to the deep blue of the Adriatic.
Breakfast is served from 7–10.30am; lunch from noon to 3.30pm; dinner from 7–10.30pm. The poolside bar is open from 10.30am to 7pm. The pizzeria serves from noon to 3.30pm and 7pm to 10.30pm. The rooftop bar is open from 7pm to midnight.
A full à la carte menu is available during restaurant hours (7.30am–10.30am, noon to 3.30pm and 7pm–10.30pm), and snacks and cold dishes can be ordered until midnight.
The nearest airports are Bari and Brindisi, roughly an hour’s drive from Masseria Torre Maizza. The hotel can arrange one-way transfers for up to three people for €120 from Brinsdisi or €130 from Bari.
The closest train station is Fasano, part of the Bologna-Roma-Bari-Lecce line. It's a 10-minute drive from the hotel.
Masseria Torre Maizza is an hour from Bari, 50 minutes from Brindisi and the famous domed trulli rooves of Alberobello are 45 minutes away. The hotel is on the outskirts of Fasano, just 10 minutes from the centre. From the motorway between Bari and Brindisi (the E55), take the Savelletri exit, and then follow the signs to Masseria. There is free valet parking for guests.
Worth getting out of bed for
The sight of estate at sunrise will likely be enough to coax you from under the covers, but the hotel has much more to offer than good looks. Try a Puglian cooking class with the chef or a wine tasting with the sommelier, getting aquinated with southern Italy's world-famous cuisine and grape varieties. Golfers can while away the hours on the nine-hole course that winds its way through the olive groves, but if you prefer beaches to bunkers, hop on the free shuttle to the hotel’s beach club, complete with gazebos, private massage pavilions and a waterfront seafood restaurant. If you're feeling energetic, book a windsurfing or sailing lesson – or charter the hotel’s yacht for an day of unashamed opulence.
Beyond the estate, Puglia’s rolling vineyards, cliff-edged coasts and sunbleached villages await. The concierge can arrange all manner of bespoke tours and experiences, ranging from two hours to an entire day. You can cycle to traditional olive oil producers, tour Lecce and Salento’s vineyards, canter across the hills on horseback or descend into ancient caves.
If you’ll pardon my sounding like a novelty T-shirt for a moment or a bumper-sticker slogan for a moment, I have to say, Italians do it better. Especially when it comes to rustic chic. My first impression of Masseria Torre Maizza is, quite simply, ‘Wow’. After a 40-minute, holiday-mood-enhancing, scenic drive from Brindisi airport, we arrive at our hillside idyll to be hit by breathtaking views of a glistening-in-the-distance sea. It’s as love-at-first-sight as hotel encounters get.
Five-star isn’t to be sniffed at, but as any discerning luxury traveller knows, it’s best served unstuffily. This Masseria is a well-run ship, and they’ve brought the best of the well-trained staff over from sister hotel, the Torre Coccaro, across the road. Two for the price of one, we are invited to make the most of the historic fortified farmhouse’s facilities too, such as an Aveda spa with a small indoor pool, Turkish bath, a gym and yoga and chi kung classes.
A short walk along fragrant jasmine-lined terraces and pathways takes us to our Superior room. Dulux charts didn’t get a look in here when it came to picking out paint colours – it’s whitewashed all the way, resulting in a clean, cool and neat canvas for the inspired furnishings. Black/white, rough/smooth – it’s shabby chic as it should be. Chinese lacquered furniture is mixed up with the more typical distressed look as well as sharp contemporary seating. Our bathroom comes over all belle epoch, with a big white Thirties’ washstand and bath, and all the fluffy towels, lotions and potions a sybarite could desire.
On the doorstep of every room is your very own sunlounger- and parasol-studded garden, and ours backs onto the hotel’s golf course. A surprisingly high, view-hampering fence has us baffled – until we heard a loud clout. Unless we want a golf ball in our vodka tonics it is clearly called for – especially when it comes to us hitting those nine holes ourselves. (Forgive me if I save us the embarrassment, and skip further mentions of this.)
As it's still up in the high 30s, we don cool linens for a dusk-time stroll around the hotel’s grounds. Eclectic chillout tunes lure us to the bar and the bougainvillea-shrouded candle-lit courtyard, and we eye up a long line of back-to-back Balinese day-beds. We know instantly where we’ll be spending much of our evening ahead. We soon learn that aperitivo taste better from a horizontal position, as the delightful bartender happily refreshes Mr Smith with a Peroni at 20 minute intervals. Despite a tray full of delicious canapés of tempura style king prawns and risotto cakes as the drinks flow, the poor man patiently humours Mr Smith’s requests to master some Italian sayings. Thankfully I’ve had a few Martinis to numb the embarrassment. Both are seemingly having a whale of time, and his chants of ‘Posso avere un’altra Peroni, per favore?’ (Can I have another Peroni, please?) become a theme of our stay.
By now, more than ready for some food, we glide over to the Ristorante delle Palme, where fresh fish is the order of the day, every day. Priding itself on its typically Puglian dishes, here, minimalist and simply furnished restaurant spills out its black-lacquer chairs and white linen cloths onto poolside terraces fringed by ancient columns dressed in vines. Lobster and a delicious country-style lamb dish, both accompanied by homegrown vegetables, are washed down with some very smooth local vino secco fresco. In the ultimate in take-away, the hotel has its own cookery school on site. Given how irresistible the hotel’s coastal setting is, and the golf course and spa, it proves the only temptation that doesn’t have its way with us.
The next morning, after the most gorgeously laid-out, gargantuan buffet breakfast, we make a dash for a splash in the Mediterranean. A minibus is on hand to take us the short hop down to the beach club. And we thought we had a super-cool hangout in the hotel? Sun, sea and sand is only the start of the fun at Torre Coccaro’s beach club: add to that salads, sushi, and skippers. This waterside retreat is all white sail-cloths billowing in the breeze and more old Indonesian day-beds. Wondering whether to rent a boat or go scuba diving in that made-for-snorkelling clear blue sea, we discover that there’s even a marine take on 'pick your own’ here. Not confident we know how to snare baby octopus and sea urchins correctly, we skip the likelihood we’d just end up gurgling ‘ow’ a lot underwater.
Besides, there’s plenty on-shore to ogle. Pert bejewelled ladies in skimpy bikinis, huge hats, sunglasses and high heels compete for our attentions with tanned and toned 20-years-younger George Clooney-a-likes in Speedos. When one of the waiters asked if I would like to see the catch of the day, I half expect one of these beach Adonises to produce something from their posing pouches. A wraparound-shaded Mr Smith meanwhile keeps a cool exterior while eyeing up the beach beauties covering themselves in oil. He only lets his guard slip when he lights the wrong end of his cigarette.
When Signore Smith finally regains his composure, I suggest a move from leching to Lecce with an afternoon excursion to the ‘Florence of the South’. A 50-minute drive away, it is the nearest city to the masseria. Small, easy to navigate, and with stunning baroque architecture and interesting boutiques, it’s well worth a visit. The fantastic jewellery which ranges from cheap-chic to top dollar has my curiosity piqued. Finally, just as I give into some charming old ceramics, the shop-owner tempts Mr Smith with a charcoal drawing of a naked woman. Well, can you blame him? ‘I’ll take the naked lady in the corner,’ he says, procuring the perfect souvenir for a couple utterly seduced by Torre Maizza.