I’m always on the lookout for new and alternative areas, regions or cities for local Hideaways. Therefore, it took me a while before I could add Italy to the Local Hideaway map. For I was looking for those as yet undiscovered and authentic places. My search was finally rewarded when I came to the beautiful and diverse region of Puglia!
My destination today is the Itria Valley, which is a 6 km drive away from the picturesque white city of Ostuni. This is where I discover Masseria Cervarolo: a beautiful 16th century estate owned by Teo Avelino. When he bought this ruined estate in 2003 Teo, like many other Local Hideaway owners, I’ve discovered, left behind a completely different working life. A new era began, and together with his wife he embarked on the extensive renovation, successfully turning Masseria Cervarolo into an outrageously pretty accommodation. The enormous building was renovated using mainly recycled and regional materials and it is eco-labelled: it doesn’t have gas and electricity is generated by solar panels. There are several rooms in the 16th century tower, and an additional number of rooms in the central, 17th century, part. The 18th century Trulli (typical Puglia limestone huts) were also turned into spacious sleeping quarters. These Trulli proudly stand erect in the landscape. Their cone-shaped roofs make them seem rather gnome-like. In the old days, peasant families and their livestock used to occupy them, but those days are long gone and now they are wonderfully comfortable and pleasant.
In all, Masseria Cervarolo has 18 rooms. I spent the night in a Trullo, which was a great experience! But I was shown some of the other rooms as well and found them equally pleasant. For all the rooms are decorated tastefully, and the beautiful materials that were used make for a tranquil atmosphere. There are no frills whatsoever, contrary to what you so often see in Italy, and the design is minimalist and rustic. Wandering around, I take note of the care and attention that went into decorating this place….. an antiques corner, the ceramic switches, an old green cabinet filled with succulents and a private chapel with fresco-covered walls, which they found hidden behind the layers of plaster. Obviously, they came as a complete surprise to Teo when they were discovered during the renovation!
Unfortunately, the weather was too cold for me to swim in the garden pool or sit at the outdoor bar when I was there, but there were many other things to do. For instance, I attended a wine tasting afternoon, where a skilled sommelier talked about the wonderful Puglia wines for an hour….after which we could taste some of them, of course. Once a week, the chef gives cooking classes ….during which he shares some of his secrets with you. I was sorry to miss it, but I did have a taste of his excellent cooking in the charming restaurant. Delicious! As was the extensive breakfast. And this is yet another restaurant that operates a ‘zero kilometre policy’….only using ingredients that are produced locally, great!
The team of people working at Masseria Cervarolo are also very friendly and extremely hospitable….it feels like visiting family! They talked to me at length about the things to do around here and made me regret I wasn’t staying longer! For there are many wonderful places to visit: Ostuni, Cisternino, Ceglie Messapica, Martina Franca, etc… But the beach is also close by and the unspoilt nature is perfect for a walk or a bicycle trip (you can use one of the complimentary bikes).
The Masseria closes for the winter months, but when it is open it is a wonderful, magical place with ‘good vibes’…….la vita è bella!