Within its brilliant-white brick walls, Torre Fiore Hotel Masseria’s chock full of both original historic features and designer modern luxuries. The owners, who grew up nearby, have filled their hotel with relics of the area’s heritage – a set of antique keys in the one-time caretaker’s room, for example, or cow bells from the nearby farms – without sacrificing an ounce of contemporary style. Learn to cook with the chef, visit the beach at the nearby Ionian coast or just lounge by the infinity pool and gaze at the valley below.
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome glass of local wine or prosecco each and a selection of seasonal local appetisers– both sweet and savoury treats – made by the chef
11am, but flexible on request. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £235.45 (€275), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include buffet breakfast.
Get a delicious taste of Basilicata culture at the hotel’s cookery classes, where the chef leads by demonstration.
The hotel is closed from 16 October to 17 April each year.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, shuttles to the beach. In rooms: SmartTVs, minibar, alarm clock radio, security safe, air-conditioning and Fragonard toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Each room is unique, thanks to the creative eye of the owner’s brother, and several incorporate symbolic features: the lines of marble between the terracotta tiles in Suite 3, for example, represent the Ottoman invasion of Basilicata. Suite 13, the caretaker’s former home, is perhaps the most epic: the tower has four turrets and two terraces for admiring the Campari-coloured sunsets over the valley and piazza. Suite 8 is the former chapel and retains a subtle religious theme, and in the three stable rooms you’ll find stirrups strung from the walls. The La Stall suite sleeps up to five guests and has its own outdoor seating area.
The u-shaped outdoor infinity pool has a waterfall and Ionian Sea views. The pool is heated except during April, May and October.
Bring a light jacket in case you get chilly while watching the sun go down from the piazza.
Welcome, but not particularly catered to. This masseria is designed with grown ups in mind, though babysitting can be arranged upon request.
In the restaurant, sit by the window to look out over the piazza.
Leave your heels behind: historic floors aren’t ideal for stilettos.
Experience authentic Basilicata cuisine in the hotel’s open-plan restaurant: most of the ingredients are locally sourced, and the menu emphasises traditional dishes with faultless presentation. Ask for the spaghettone with salted codfish, crunchy crumb bread and chili pepper followed by the panna cotta with Stigliano pistachios, Pisticci grapes and caramelised Cruschi peppers
Drinks are poured in the restaurant; try the Amaro Lucano, a Pisticci liquer. For local Basilicata wines, look to La Cantina, the hotel’s wine cellar.
Breakfast is served 8am–10am in the Il Patio restaurant. A light lunch is served between 12:30pm and 2:30pm, while dinner is served from 7:30pm to 11pm.
Room service is available 8am–10pm, 1pm–2.30pm and 8pm–10.30pm. For €5 per couple order anything you like from the restaurant’s daily menu; breakfast, snacks and beverages, or lunch and dinner.
The hotel is just under 7km from Pisticci, a sleepy town roughly half an hour’s drive from the Ionian coast.
Touch down at Bari-Palese airport, 135km from the hotel. Direct flights depart from London Gatwick and a number of Italian cities as well as a host of other European destinations, including Berlin, Barcelona, Riga, Zürich and Prague (www.aeroportidipuglia.it). The Navetta bus service runs twice a day (2.30pm and midnight) from the airport to a stop 10 minutes from the hotel; the journey takes three hours and staff will arrange to pick you up there if you ask.
The closest railway station is Metaponto, 15km away and it’s a 20-minute drive. The station’s served by Trenitalia, with regular trains from Rome, Naples, Milan, Verona and several other Italian cities (www.trenitalia.com).
A car is the easiest way to reach the hotel and is handy for exploring the countryside. From Bari airport, where Avis have a branch, the journey takes under two hours. There’s free parking on site (you can do it yourself, or hand your keys to the valet). The nearest major town is historic Matera, a 50-minute drive from the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Head into town: Pisticci dates back to the Iron Age and has historic sites aplenty to explore. It tends get very quiet in the afternoons, so visit in the morning or evening if you’d like to mingle with the locals. Ask the hotel’s owner, Mariana, for her map of Pisticci: she’s marked the highlights, such as the best antique shop and top spots for buying local cheese. Or, explore the valley and coast on horseback: there are stables across the street from Torre Fiore. About 40 minutes from the hotel is the town of Grottaglie, which is the place to be for ceramics shopping. And daredevil Smiths won’t want to miss the Volo dell’Angelo (Flight of the Angel) – the zipline carries you between the towns of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa at 120km an hour. There are other ways to enjoy the Basilicata countryside, too: golf, sailing, biking and hiking can all be arranged nearby.
Near the hotel, Incontro Trattoria on Via Risorgimento is an ideal place to dine after exploring the hilltop town of Pisticci. Tuck in to local specialities, starting with plenty of antipasti (https://trattorialincontro.com; +39 0835 582467). Il Baccanti, on Via Sant’ Angelo in Matera’s Sassi neighbourhood (a Unesco World Heritage site) is an evocative ‘cave’ restaurant with fascinating decor and a menu of regional favourites (www.baccantiristorante.com; +39 0835 333704). In Castelmezzano, Il Becco della Civetta, on Vico Primo Maglietta, serves up seasonal fare as memorable as its Dolomite mountain views (+39 0971 986249).
In Pisticci, head down the main street of Corso Margherita to find a range of cafés and shops. Steps away on Piazza dei Caduti, Bar Pisticci-Pasticci is renowned as the best for gelato and pastries (+39 0835 581120).
Mrs Smith and I needed to go to Torre Fiore Hotel Masseria and we needed to visit southern Italy. I didn’t realise how significantly, of course, until we had done it. We were both really stressed and grumpy. Over-worked, a bit soggy and bloated. The usual London stuff. And the answer had been there all along; by ‘there’ I mean in Matera in Italy. Ahh, Italy. A land where nobody is over-worked, there isn’t even a word for ‘soggy’ and being bloated feels sexy.
Can I tell you about our flights to Bari first? Mundane, but it involves one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. It’s completely irrelevant to the review but I need to get it off my chest. Mrs Smith reluctantly put me in charge of booking the flights. I definitely used the sentence ‘I’m perfectly capable of organsing some flights, thank you very much’ at one point. Now, the two things you need to know about Bari are that, firstly, it’s the nearest airport to Torre Fiore and secondly, when pronounced in Italian, the name Barry becomes powerfully erotic. So, I booked flights for us both. I accidentally clicked the wrong month. I called up. Non-refundable. I had to book more tickets. Now this is the staggering part: I accidentally clicked the wrong month again. I called up. Non-refundable. I had to book MORE flights. I’m not sure how you guys roll, but I like to book at least six flights when I travel. We were now over-worked, a bit soggy, bloated and completely skint.
Grazie mille then for Torre Fiore. It’s a two-hour drive from Bari (Sexy Barry) and we were driven by Augostino. One of the nicest men that has ever lived. He didn’t really speak English and we don’t understand Italian but he talked to us all the way. I will never know what he was saying but we roughly translated it as: ‘You guys look a bit stressed, leave it with us and you’ll be dribbling, pleasure-corpses within 24 hours’.
You go straight past the middle of nowhere, turn left down a dirt track and drive through olive bushes. The hotel is a big white central building, surrounded by the bedrooms. It looks a little bit Moroccan. A more diligent reviewer would be able to tell you why that is, and perhaps even namecheck an architect. All you’re going to get from me is that it’s ‘well nice’.
The receptionist sounded German, the owner is from Toronto and the staff are Italian. It immediately felt like a raunchy version of the UN. While the world’s political powerhouses meet wearing suits in New York and discuss Baltic trade embargos, a small gathering of leaders in relaxation assemble at Torre Fiore, to discuss threadcounts and balsamic vinegar, wearing bikinis and high heels.
We were shown to our room, across the courtyard from the randy United Nations central auditorium. It was big. Really high ceilings with wooden beams. A giant bed which meant Mrs Smith and I could potentially pass an entire night without ever encountering each other. The furniture is a strange mix. Old farming equipment sits next to modernist pieces, alongside rustic chairs and a giant red headboard. It is eclectic, adding to the feeling that this place is a clash of cultures.
The only other guests when we arrived were a delightful family of mosquitos. We sat by the pool together, exchanged blood and histamines, and then got changed for dinner. Other guests started to arrive at this stage. It seems the restaurant is the place to eat in the area. As soon as we tasted the food and wine, it was pretty obvious why. Both were exceptional. Autumn, but we ate outside. I got the expressions alfresco and al dente mixed up with hilarious consequences and then we went to bed with a chocolate mousse.
If you stay at this Basilicata boutique bolt hole, you’d be a complete weirdo not to travel into Matera old town for an evening. I hadn’t even heard of this ancient cluster of cave-dwellings. It’s where they filmed the controversial Mel Gibson vehicle The Passion of the Christ. Stroll through the winding ancient alleys, church bells seem to go off every few minutes in the distance. Walk past the tiny windows and people are either debating something passionately in Italian or practicing the clarinet. 14-year-old couples stroll around the streets hand-in-hand, eating gelati and showing Mrs Smith how a real man should treat a lady. The food is epic. The wine is spiked with some sort of chemical that makes you talk very, very frankly about a future that involves spending at least two thirds of every year in Italy.
So what’s the catch? You might prefer to come here as part of a longer trip. It’s a bit too far for a couple of nights. When we told people we didn’t have a car it was as if we’d told them we were planning on travelling from place to place via osmosis. The hotel kindly arranged for Augustino to take us to-and-fro but it was expensive and the journeys seemed to take ages. Make Torre Fiore part of a week, perhaps trundling around Puglia as well, and that would be the most brilliant holiday.
If you’re reading this review it means you’re probably considering a holiday to Italy. Maybe you’re doing it because you’ve become a bit grumpy, like me and Mrs Smith. Maybe it’s your honeymoon. Maybe you’re having an affair. Maybe you’re a dedicated Mel Gibson fan who stumbled across this page during your daily Google search. Maybe you’re looking for a family holiday where you can stick the kids in a pool and get discreetly wasted on mind-boggling wine. Maybe you’re retired. Maybe you’re travelling alone. Whoever you are and whatever you’re travelling for, Torre Fiore, the sexy United Nations in Italy has got it covered. You’re going to have a well nice time.