Masserie are characteristically Puglian manor houses which formed the heart of rural estates. Today, many of them have been converted to luxury residences, but they retain their timeless charm as a feature of the countryside in this very special part of Italy. They once housed local nobility and their guests, but were also part of working farms, with arable land, gardens, stables and staff living quarters. The most sympathetically restored masserie have retained some of these evocative features, whilst also offering the highest spec modern comforts.

Masseria Della Croce enjoys a lovely setting in Putignano. This seventeenth century property is steeped in history, with tales of Benedictine monks and Knights Malta enjoying it as a place to stay. Today its nods to its past include a piano in the living room and a stunning fireplace. The complimentary welcome drink on arrival sets the tone for the decadent pleasures on offer, from the stunning pool to a hot tub in the master bedroom, as well as an outdoor shower and original wood-fired oven.

Masseria della Croce

Antica Masseria del Fano, near Salve, is a historically important mansion with a landmark tower building and parts dating back to 1577. Perfect for a festive gathering of friends or family, it has spectacular sea views, a lovely circular pool and sun deck, and an evocative setting inside a forty-hectare park. The ancient village of Salve dates back to at least the Bronze Age, and fascinating fortifications and churches are amongst its many historical survivals.

Masseria del Fano

Masseria Saracino is situated in Martano, the biggest town in Grecia Salentina, fabled for its lovely medieval cathedral and lively festivals. A hugely characterful property, Masseria Saracino has expertly converted historic elements into quirky, appealing contemporary features. The dry-stone walls are now used to frame the expansive terraces, and the little trullo next to the house is now a useful pantry. Like the masseria themselves, trulli are a familiar and beloved feature in this part of Italy. Small, round stone constructions with a conical roof, they have a fairy tale village look about them.

Masseria Saracino

Another wonderful property takes its name from the trulli, Masseria Il Trullino. The villa lies within a five-acre olive grove, which produces notably fine quality olive oil. Intriguingly, although the olive grove is over four hundred years old, Masseria Il Trullino is newly built. Expertly crafted from Pietra Leccese, the local stone, it showcases arches, vaulted ceiling and a grand internal courtyard. The panoramic roof terrace makes the most of the breath-taking rural views. Perfecting relaxed luxury for families, amenities include a huge infinity pool, children’s playground, trampoline and a kitchen garden providing fresh vegetables and herbs.

Masseria Il Trullino

A truly imposing manor house, Masseria Don Agostino Salento comfortably accommodates up to thirteen guests. With origins dating back to 1860, today it comprises five self-contained luxury suites. The 70 square metres infinity pool includes a whirlpool. Swimming and sunbathing is framed by a fragrant and classically Mediterranean olive and fruit tree grove. Its location in the province of Lecce offers easy access to some of Italy’s greatest cultural and natural treasures, from the striking Baroque architecture of the city of Lecce to the San Cantaldo nature reserve and Alimini Lakes.

Masseria Don Agostino

The masserie are a cherished and inspiring part of the fabric of Puglia, where countryside, history and legend are forever intertwined.

By Phileas French, Travel Writer