On my first visit to Puglia many years ago, I discovered an under-the-radar destination with few tourists, a handful of relaxed hotels and a charming ruggedness that was worlds away from Florence or Positano. Puglia doesn’t have the white-sand beaches of Sardinia or the verdant scenery of Tuscany or the cultural cachet of Sicily, but that’s what makes it so appealing. A journey here doesn’t come with a long list of must-dos to check off your bucket list. Instead, it’s about slowing down and savoring the simple things: a beautiful lunch under the olive trees at a masseria (fortified farmhouse), a sunset stroll through a sleepy village or a dip in the sea at a rocky beach.
Now the secret is out, and Puglia’s newfound popularity has resulted in numerous luxury hotels and resorts popping up in the last decade. The region may no longer feel as undiscovered (or as inexpensive), but it’s more comfortable than ever to explore. We selected four of the most promising properties to visit undercover, and each proved distinctive and delightful in its own way.
After an hour’s drive from the Bari airport, we found ourselves at the gates of Borgo Egnazia. Travel publications frequently nominate the resort as one of the best in the world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s mesmerizingly beautiful: a whitewashed Mediterranean palace surrounded by ancient olive groves and flowering cacti. The resort consists of three sections: Le Case, with 28 private villas; Il Borgo, a village of 93 suites in stone houses surrounding a town square; and La Corte, the 63-room main lodge.