Italy, Masseria in Puglia

I have been in the Puglia region of Italy for the last two weeks, working on a boutique hotel project in the outskirts of Lecce. The property is typical of the region – a fortified farmhouse, (Masseria), it was built between 700 – 1500 AD. Rob the owner is an ex-pat Australian, an old client and great friend. An extremely talented hotelier, he has put all his energy and dreams into creating the perfect hotel property. The building is extraordinary: fortified towers and stellar vaulted ceilings all wrought in Lecce tufo (stone) surrounded by 7 citrus and fruit orchards. An incredible experience: meeting wonderful local artisans, artists and sculptors – all charming and very talented. For Rob, the vision is complete, from landing in Brindisi airport to the first Aperol Spritz on arrival. Anyone lucky enough to stay at the Masseria will remember it for ever…Open for business in June 2015.

First Italian dawn over Rome
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A wonderful Masseria in the same region – Aquadolce
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Every last Sunday in the month a travelling antique market comes to Lecce. We bought these fabulous bottles that I would love to transform into little side tables.

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This is an incredible piece – used by the noble families to hang coats in entrance halls. Sexy and glamorous!

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The facade of the Masseria. The second story will form one large apartment for family rentals, or can be split into two – one with a fabulous original fire in the sitting room. The noble family would have lived in these rooms.

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Guests will enter the building through these metal gates.

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My client Rob in deep discussion under the stellar vaulted ceilings. This room will be the sitting room. It opens through a series of arched doors onto a terrace filled with lemon trees. Little tables and linen covered chairs will soon be dotted under the filtered green light – just ready for breakfast or an aperitif before dinner!

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A closer shot of the metal gates. The next room will be the foyer, looking through to the dining room that is housed in the old stable. The troughs on the left hand side will act as a service area, containing plates cutlery etc for the room. Whilst in Gallipolli (Rob’s GPS is an American, insistent on articulating every vowel of GALLY POLLY) we found a basket maker who is going to produce fish traps we will light and suspend over the troughs – belissimo!

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One of the seven orchards that surround the Masseria

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All rooms will eventually include a fireplace, sofa and in some cases separate dressing room. The bathrooms will be sensational – inside and outside. The baths outside will be nestled alongside dry stone walls and carved out of a solid block of lecce stone by talented sculptor Renzo Buttazzo…

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Coffee machine. A fantastic site ritual – every so often tiny plastic takeaway cups would appear with “cafe” – strong black pre- sugared coffee guaranteed to banish the worst jet lag…

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More great things from the antique market, hand carved solid olive wood stools, water bottles…

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Renzo’s solid stone basins and the most wonderful table – the organic pebbles are carved from a single piece of stone – the top pebble conceals a bolt that holds the cantilevered glass in place. To see more of his work have a look at www.renzobuttazzo.it

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These lights and textured wall hangings are made by Francesca Carallo an artist working with papier mache. Her work is so beautiful – intricate, hand made and stunning. The texture and the effects of the light are extraordinary. www.francescacarallo.it

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This beautiful lamp is typical of the ceramics of Puglia. I LOVED this shop and bar combined (two of my favourite things) called Blanc in Gallipolli. In fact Rob and I went a bit crazy in the shop and were then given lunch – always a sign of bruised plastic…After lunch, ridiculously priced espadrilles seemed to be the perfect gift for all at home. Not so perfect, when trying to pack at 2am for a 6am start with domestic Alitalia weight restrictions for 1 hour of a 24hr international flight…

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