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Puglia

"Undiscovered, and off-the-beaten tourist track, lies a land that time forgot - Apulia."

- Taken from a vintage guide book but says it all!

There is much that this little-known region has to offer: hundreds of miles of sandy beaches, landscape dripping with history and an extraordinary array of architecture. You will be able to eat breakfast in a Baroque city, have lunch in a town built from caves, and enjoy dinner in a whitewashed cobbled hilltop village watching the sunset.

You might be interested to find that the region produces most of Europe’s pasta, presses most of Italy’s olive oil, catches most of Italy’s fish, and makes enough wine to rank Puglia (if it were a country) as the sixth biggest wine maker in the world. The reality is even better, and you really can sample some of the best meals that you have ever eaten.

It is a fascinating hidden dream and still remains wonderfully relatively unnoticed to the tourist industry (for now! I saw a tourist ad on the London underground the other day!).

We hope you enjoy wandering around our ‘whitewashed Adriatic gems...’

Alberobello

15.4km 19 mins

Apulia is famous for its Trulli (dry stone huts with conical roofs) and these can be Century, Alberobello folklore suggests that the Trulli were constructed as a way of evading tax laws of the time. Building without mortar enabled the houses to be dismantled as soon as residents got wind of a local tax-inspector coming their way, and rebuilt again once the inspections had been completed. Although a nice story and fun anecdote, it is more likely that the Trulli were built using what materials were available at the time. In addition, the thick walls offered protection from the harsh winter weather and provided cooler temperatures during the hot summers.

There is much to see and do in this quaint, charming town.

Alberobello has a number of restaurants in or near the town centre; and lots of people watching coffee stops in the main square. In the summer, there are a host of activities and events, from religious processions to international folk and jazz festivals, and open-air cinema.

Martina Franca

12.7km 20 mins

Martina Franca is a History Nerd’s dream, with castles, battles and feuds dating back to the 1300s. Today, Martina Franca is, arguably, the most elegant town in central Puglia. For those of you interested in Architecture, you will find many graceful Baroque and Rococco buildings within the walls of the Centro Storico. Just outside the walls is the Gothic church of S. Antonio, and across the Piazza XX Septembre stands the tall Porta S. Antonio, the principal gateway to the old town centre.

Inside the gate is the green Piazza Roma, dominated by the Palazzo Ducale, occupies the site of the old Castle. The building now serves as a town hall, but parts of the magnificent interior are open to the public and it serves as an indoor venue for the prestigious summer classical music festival (The International Festival of the Itria Valley).

Locorotondo

7.2km 11 mins

When you drive from Villa Silvana, Locorotondo appears at the top of a round hill as a cluster of white houses dominated by a tall church. This is your nearest town and easy for that morning stroll and coffee. The name of the town means “round place”, and the circular plane of the old town centre, the Centro Storico, is still evident today and the place to head for. Well known for its light dry white wine – ‘locorotondo’.

Inside the walls surrounding the Centro Storico, is a fascinating maze of narrow streets and alleyways, whitewashed houses, and arches and balconies full of colonial flowers. The main beautiful sights of the town are the impressive Mother Church of St George and the late Gothic church of San Marco della Greca.

Cisternino

9.1km 14 mins

For those of you with a passion for history and architecture, a trip to Cisternino (pronounced CH-isternino) is a must. Dating back to the 10th Century, Cisternino is perched on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding Murge and Itria Valley. The first thing you see as you enter the old city is the Torre Grande, dating back from the time of the Norman domination.

The nearby church, Chiesa Madre, is of Apulian Romanesque style and was built in the 13th century, but only the internal capitals and columns remain as the façade was rebuilt in the 19th century. In fact, the remains of an earlier church (dated around 1000AD) was recently rediscovered in the foundations of the current building.

Ostuni

25.7km 33 mins

Ostuni –the White City – is also lovely (sorry to keep using this word), set on a hilltop overlooking the sea, with breath-taking views from its many walls. This beautiful city is really spectacular in the evening, with its white historical centre and its many fascinating alleyways to explore. Ostuni was an important town of the area, even from pre-Roman Messapian times, and as such, has a turbulent history. Modern Ostuni has many reminders of the town’s important past. On top of the cluster of whitewashed houses, is the 15th Century cathedral dominating the view for miles. The streets wind from here, down to the Piazza della Liberta in a labyrinth of little stairs and lanes flanked with typical whitewashed houses, smaller souvenir shops and homely traditions.

Nearby is the Bishop’s Palace, built using stones of the earlier castle, remains of which can still be seen. To the north there are magnificent views down to the sea. The walk towards the newer quarters of the town passes amongst other churches and fine buildings.

Polignano a Mare

30km 30 mins

Polignano remains our most favourite place to visit. It stands overlooking a crystal clear sea, with its houses overhanging natural sea caves. The dramatic views are visible from many cliff edge vantage points. To the North of the massive cliffs, one of the most impressive Apulian caves, known as the Grotte Palezzese, is open, equipped with a large terrace and a restaurant (pricey!). From the newer section of town, a wide stone archway leads into the medieval streets in the old village; an intricate maze of alleys, white courtyards and terraces all overlook the Adriatic.

A little beyond the gateway, in the old village, there is a pleasant square in which there is a church, the Chiesa Matrice dell Assunta, consecrated in 1295, with a massive quadrangular bell tower. The 16th century Renaissance style prevails inside the church, but the presbytery in Baroque; well worth a visit.

Conversano

39.4km 35 mins

Yet another historic adventure, Conversano is steeped in history. There are many tombs here, dating from the 4th to the 2nd centuries BC, and also remains of megalithic walls. Conversano’s castle is well worth a visit, it is of Norman origin and was modified at various times over the ages. There are many paintings of famous artists in there, but most of the castle is now comprised of private dwellings.

Near the castle is the gem of the town; it’s Romanesque cathedral built between 11th and 12th century. It’s interior contains ancient frescos, sadly damaged in a fire in 1911, and a fine 13th century icon of the Virgin Mary.

Castellana Grotte

22.4km 27 mins

This is the place for all you explorers out there. Castellana Grotte, as its name suggests, is famous for its caves. Located a few kilometres away from Alberollo, Cisternino and Poligno di Mare, they were discovered in 1938 by Franco Anelli, and are regarded as the most magnificent in Italy.

Throughout the ages, the slow infiltration of water among the calcareous rocks of the subsoil, and innumerable fractures, and ravines created a wonderful network of subterranean passages, caves and chasms, that are among the most extensive and beautiful in the world. Some of them stretch out for just a few metres, whilst some others wind for kilometres inside the mountain. In the largest one, (approx. 3km), you will find an incessant succession of underground passages, tunnels, wells, lakes and, Stalactites and Stalagmites (extra points if you know the difference!). If you are in the area, a tour of the caves is a must! They even offer a nighttime tour, if you find your days fully booked with other fascinating things.

Lecce

104km 1 hr 13 mins

Lecce, also known as the Puglia’s Florence, is the region’s capital. It's quite a drive from us but well worth the effort. Don’t forget, all these places close at lunchtime but also open late.

Lecce’s history goes back a long way, but the period which lead to the town’s current fame was in the 17th century. As a result, it has lot of Baroque architecture. Lecce has a lovely centro storico, and you can easily spend a day or two meandering down little lanes and finding far forgotten churches. The most over-the-top decoration in the town is to be seen at the Basilica di Santa Croce, which has a fantastical façade to marvel at, ornamented with strange beasts and allegories. Visitors will gaze at Lecce’s architecture and wonder, sometimes in admiration, or perhaps – if cherubs aren’t your thing – with appalled fascination. I mean…how many ways can you carve a cherub? Many... apparently.

Matera

79.5km 1 hr 19 mins

If you’re only going to do one historical visit, this is the place. It is quite a trek, but well worth it.

This unusual little town is built into a cliff face and is famous for its extensive cave-dwelling districts (the sassi). The caves of Matera had been inhabited for centuries; some humble, and some smarter residences, but by the early 20th century, the area was a by-word for poverty. Until the 1950s, hundreds of families were still living crowded into cave-houses here.

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  • We had wonderful holidays. The villa was very clean. We appreciate the panoramic view.

    I personally appreciated that we had different terraces for different atmospheres, the big swimming pool, the good location (with wind during the day).

    It was very good.

    Carine & family, July 2018

  • Thanks for sharing your amazing home on that little slice of heaven!

    It is truly a special place.

    Kourtney, July 2018

  • Thank you for a lovely holiday!

    This is a stunning villa in a perfect location from which to explore Puglia. There is a gorgeous view from all of the (several) terraces down to the sea which is about 20 mins drive. There are pretty towns and villages all in easy driving distance which are fascinating to explore and great places to eat out in but being up in the hills the villa is very private and peaceful and a haven to return to - especially the large pool after a hot morning exploring!

    Jane B.

  • The villa itself is very well equipped with everything needed for a large group - bedrooms are spacious and very comfortable. The terraces and patios are great places to get away from it all and mean that even in a large group there is plenty of room for quiet moments.

    This is a lovely area of Italy and the villa is a great base for a wonderful holiday here.

    Jane B.

  • We recently stayed at Villa Silvana for a friend’s birthday and it was the ideal venue for a week of sun and celebration. It is a beautiful property with stunning views and the luxurious pool area was perfect for lazy days relaxing with friends. We had many wonderful dinners under the stars in the large communal areas and the BBQ is great for big groups. Puglia has so much to offer and Villa Silvana is a gorgeous base from which to explore. We can’t wait to come back!

    Rosie B.

  • We recently stayed at Villa Silvana for a family reunion with 13 family members from all over the US. We had a great time. The villa is beautiful with plenty of room for everyone. It’s so large we were even able to host a BBQ with all 13 of us plus another 10 or so family members who live in the area. The Puglia is a beautiful part of Italy and there’s so much to do all with very easy day trips of the villa. I’d recommend this house to anyone.

    Jerrie L.

  • We travel to Italy a lot for our holidays and every year all four brothers get together to organize a large family holiday. Of all the villas we've stayed in, this is the best. We felt so at home and so comfortable and there was a lot of us. We had the chef on more than one occasion, the food quality for the price is unbelievable and delicious. There's tons to do in the area and as we were such a big group the owners went out of their way every day to help us book excursions and restaurants. The pool was huge and such fun and the views are mind blowing. Loved It.

    Susanna C.

  • OMG

    What can I say, the property was fantastic and the pool was brilliant with a super view over the cost more then enough room for our party of 12.

    The kids loved it and we felt safe letting them loose on the grounds wich are BIG.

    The owners were great, gave us all the space but were always there for help and advice.

    All and all brilliant and look forward to our next visit next summer.

    Jamie H.

  • What an amazing week, cannot thank you enough for allowing us to stay in your AMAZING place. Everything about it was perfect and so much amazing space for everyone to hang out in as a group!!! The pool area was fab and was perfect for floating around on pizza shaped lilos!

    Molly M.

  • What to say...this villa is a hidden gem. As you arrive you are immediately greeted with the most stunning view which is alone a reason not to leave. From there the surprises get better and better the food the rooms, the Italian decor all adds to the charm....and the pool I could have floated in it for days. Its location is perfect just a short 30 min drive form the airport and right within reach of some quaint villages with really delicious authentic Italian meals. I would could have stayed for weeks and will certainly be back!

    Steph L.

  • The Villa itself was lovely – stunning views etc., loved the terraces and the pool, perfect spot for driving to nearby towns and sightseeing.

    Lena was amazing – her food was delicious, and she was so lovely, highly recommend her to other guests and great value too.

    However, the restaurants weren't really walkable.

    Kathryn D.