The lowdown Located in Italy’s sunny south, Puglia has a charm all of its own, and until recently was little known to non Italians who flock here in the summer months for the unspoilt beaches and fabulous food. However, this is changing fast with frequent flights from the UK to both Bari and Brindisi. Masseria Torre Coccaro sits on a large estate of olive groves and orchards between the town of Fasano and the Adriatic, and just a stone's throw from sister hotel Masseria Torre Maizza (see our review). As with most of the Puglian masserie, Torre Coccaro was built in the 16th century as a watchtower to fend off attacks from invading Turkish pirates. Today, the limestone buildings have been beautifully restored without losing a sense of their history into a chic hotel with 33 rooms – features include bright white-washed walls covered in bougainvillea, red shutters and door frames, a chapel, cosy fireplaces, a bell tower and a stunning swimming pool. Torre Coccaro is probably more family friendly than Maizza – fun things for little ones include a playground with trampoline and there’s a kids’ beach club which runs in the summer holidays. Ponies are on hand for rides into the countryside or down to the beach, and you can book a babysitter year-round.
The rooms Some of the rooms are in the old farmhouse or its outbuildings, and there are two suites on the top floor of the tower – so go for these if you after.amazing views. All rooms have vaulted ceilings and are filled with local antique furniture; some have stone fireplaces and private little gardens. The Orange Garden Suite is located within an ancient cave, has a double whirlpool bath and access to a private orange grove with its own pool.
Eating and drinking The restaurant is housed in the star-shaped vaults of the old stables and has a delicious Pugliese menu, much of which comes straight from the hotel's own organic gardens. The food is so good it will inspire you to join in one of their cookery lessons – you will even to make your own pizza dough. Breakfasts are a feast – with tables laden with local cheeses, fresh fruit and cakes and tarts.
What to do First on your list should be Coccaro Beach Club for a delicious lunch by the beach and a dip in the sea. Second, should be a treatment in the Aveda spa, which is built into caves that once housed olive mills – a massage here will have you drifting off and is so totally relaxing. In the early evening, head down to the little fishing village of Savelletri for the best gelato ever from Bar Skipper (opposite the church). A little further afield – about 30 minutes away – is Ostuni, the prettiest white town, with little alleyways and stunning views from the town walls. Alberobello is about the same distance away up and over the nearby hills; this UNESCO site is famed for its traditional trulli, the traditional Puglian white dry stone huts with a conical roof. Book in for lunch at Il Trullo d’Oro (tel 00 39 080 4321820). Or if golf is your thing, then sister hotel Torre Maizza has a cute nine-hole course.
The details Three nights B&B at Masseria Torre Coccaro available from £967 per person this August. Price is based on two adults sharing and includes return flights from London Gatwick to Bari airport and private transfers. To book, contact Classic Collection Holidays on 0800 294 9323 or visit classic-collection.co.uk. For further information contact the hotel on 00 39 080 482 93 10 or visit masseriatorrecoccaro.com
By Jeannette Arnold