Set along a narrow driveway through ancient olive groves, Corte dei Messapi is a tranquil retreat. And yet, it’s just a five-minute drive from the whitewashed houses and quaint streets of Ostuni. The luxury Italian villa where we stayed courtesy of Bookings for You and Raro Villas was a great base for exploring the enchanting region of Puglia.
Corte dei Messapi is an impressive property. The luxury Italian villa sleeps 24 people, in 12 bedrooms set across four separate buildings. It has not one but two decent-sized (11m) pools, as well as a large jacuzzi, on the roof of the main villa. Surprisingly, the four properties were all built less than a year ago. They look so in keeping with their surroundings – all local stone and olive wood – that it’s hard to imagine the place without them.
Corte dei Messapi is usually rented out to large groups. It would be ideal for a gang of friends, or a special holiday with extended family. We travelled there in a smaller group – six of us, with three adults and three children – and took possession of the charming smaller three-bedroom villa, which nestled at the bottom of the incline down from Corte dei Messapi’s main house.
Our home for the weekend: the mid-sized villa
Our villa was toasty when we arrived after the hour’s drive from Bari airport. Radiators kept the place warm in the March evenings, but in the heat of summer, the ground floor bedrooms would have air conditioning. My friend Penny (who took some of the photos in this post, including the first one) and I slept on the ground floor, in ensuite double rooms with our daughters. The rooms were spacious, with plentiful storage space and doors that locked. Katja and her daughter took the lower ground floor suite. Like our rooms, theirs had a large ensuite shower room, with a separate entrance and a small lounging area.
The next morning we donned the dressing gowns provided by Raro Villas, and took stock of the kitchen. A brand new coffee machine, complete with a basket full of pods, helped wake us out of our slumber, and we admired the swish set of knives, the large fridge and dishwasher, as well as the toaster, which you won’t always find in continental Europe.
The girls were under strict instructions not to go near the ungated pool without adults nearby, but at six and eight they were old enough to listen.
With a television and a comfy sofa that seated two to three people, as well as six-seater dining tables inside and on the terrace, there was room for us all to recline. It was still a little cold to use the pool loungers, but we could easily picture how glorious it would be in the summer months. And in the meantime, the villa’s small playground area, with a climbing frame, swing and slide, could give a chance for some outdoor play, without the need to get wet.
Main Italian villa
Raro Villas invited us to join other guests at the main house, for an evening of panzerotti-making. While my daughter was happily rolling out pastry and pressing the dough into little shell-shaped parcels, I took a quick tour of the seven-bedroom residence.
Inside Corte dei Messapi’s main villa, there was a real feeling of space. All the bedrooms were ensuite, and the living areas on the first two floors of the villa provided comfy sofas and large TVs. There was even a Playstation on the ground floor. Doors from the ground floor opened directly onto the swimming pool/barbecue area, and I could imagine tweens spending the day moving languorously between these two relaxing spaces.
Upstairs in the open-plan kitchen/dining room area, a large American style fridge was big enough to hold food and drink for a large group. Like our villa, guests could choose to eat inside or out. If the wine supplies ran dry, you could help yourself from the villa’s wine cellar, and just pay on check out.
Raro Villas offer extra services to people who want a little more pampering, like a private chef, a chauffeur or a masseuse. We had a little taste of this luxury when we tried out the hot tub on the roof of the main villa – and the girls went wild at their first taste of outdoor swimming this spring.
Smaller residences and grounds
As well as our villa and Corte dei Messapi’s main residence, guests can stay in two other properties: a smaller version of our own stone villa, and a trullo, modelled after the traditional trulli dwellings of the Puglia region. Both these places sleep two.
Things to do nearby
The Puglian coast is less than an hour from Corte dei Messapi, at Polignano al Mare. To get a taste of the region’s agriculture and produce, visitors can see cheese-making, or olive-oil pressing at a masseria, one of the local historic farms, which usually have large estates. On our trip we went to Masseria Lamapecora, and Masseria Maccarone. The surrounding countryside is peppered with beautiful towns full of whitewashed houses and narrow lanes where only the occasional car squeezes through – like Cisternino and Ostuni. Perhaps the most famous landmark of the region is Alberobello, whose trulli dating back to the fifteenth century have UNESCO World Heritage status. I’ve posted about Alberobello here.
To reach the Italian villa of Corte dei Messapi, the SS16 road runs from the two closest international airports: Bari to the north, or Brindisi to the south. Bari is an hour and twenty minutes away, but Brindisi is closer. The road from either direction runs to Ostuni, after which it’s a five-minute drive. Raro Villas can arrange chauffeur services to and from the property.
You might also be interested in:
A photo tour of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Puglia, Italy
Read here about an Italian cookery masterclass I took with Bookings for You last year.
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