Passepartout Homes’ property portfolio showcases a very exclusive collection of unique luxury holiday retreats located in 18 countries on four continents across the globe. What’s unique about each of our exclusive holiday villas is that every one is a home which has been lovingly built, rebuilt or renovated by its proprietors who invested their hearts and souls into creating a unique and special atmosphere for their guests. In this interview series, we meet the property owners who tell us the stories behind their exclusive holiday homes.

Puglia, (called Apulia in English) in Italy’s deep south is one of the trendiest destinations for holidaymakers who are looking for a relaxing and secluded break away from the crowds. Some of Europe’s best sandy beaches are located here, but this is not the only attraction of this unique region: its historic towns and villages and traditional local cuisine are other excellent reasons to plan a holiday retreat here.

Masseria Il Trullino  is a traditional local ‘masseria’, a walled country house located on a vast country estate. Surrounded by two hectares of 400-year-old olive groves, this 5-bedroom luxury countryside villa is secluded and private, with a large swimming pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. Puglia’s famous sandy beaches are just a short drive away and foodies will love exploring the many excellent regional restaurants of offer in nearby towns and villages.

Owners Paola and Jan Van den Brande use the masseria as a summerhouse where they spend their holidays with their two daughters,  other family members and close friends. They were looking for a way to rent out the property during the periods they’re not holidaying there, but found it a challenge to work with local holiday rental agencies. This is how the idea to create Passepartout Homes was born: Paola decided to rent out the masseria herself and build a business around holiday homeowners’ needs by offering them a way to rent their properties in a controlled way and find the right holidaymakers for them. After already working for several publishing houses in London, she started Passepartout Homes in 2012, leaving her job soon after to dedicate her time to her new business.


She told us about the process of building the family’s dream holiday home and why it’s unique…

Did you build or renovate the property?

Our holiday property was built from the ground up in 2007. Our property developers were promising a traditional masseria  made out of local materials and built using traditional methods and features. We chose the plot of land we liked and construction began, with the house being completed in 2008. We took a risk as we were building while living thousand of kilometres away from the site, however everything went really well and we now have a beautiful, unique house on a large plot of land in the middle of two hectares of olive trees.


What is unique about the property and area?

This is an agricultural area so according to local regulations, the house could only have one floor and had to resemble the typical agricultural architecture of the region. A ‘masseria’ is a fortified farmhouse, surrounded by walls. The house was built in a local stone called ‘pietra leccese’ and has vaulted ceilings which is a very special feature and an art that only some local artisans continue. We have a garden just outside the walls and a swimming pool inside the courtyard. We also have a traditional trullo, a small house with a conical roof, located on the grounds. We wanted to convert it into a guestroom but we were not given permission because these old properties are protected by local regulations. Building along Apulia’s coast is also not allowed.

The location is just perfect. It’s located close to Lecce in the Salento region of Puglia, a very historical region where there’s a Greek dialect spoken, called ‘Greek Salento’. The architecture in Lecce is very baroque in style. The region’s best beaches are also located nearby.


What type of visitor does it suit?

There’s something for everyone here and for all ages. There are stunning beaches, good food and wine, olive groves where extra virgin olive oil is produced, and a variety of activies: golf, art, cycling, horseriding, cooking, painting, yoga… The best thing about the region is that it’s very authentic and unspoiled. There are a few 5-star hotels north of Salento, but Salento itself is still very authentic and unspoiled by tourism.

Did you have any notable guests stay there?

Apulia is very popular with celebrities. Helen Mirren and Ralph Fiennes have holiday homes here as well as artists, actors, politicians and singers. Celebrities love to come to Salento because they are guaranteed complete privacy.

By Isabel Putinja, Travel Writer