Baroque Villas offers you the perfect place to holiday – an ultra-luxurious Soho-designed farmhouse in pretty Puglia, in the ‘heel’ of ‘Italy’s boot’
No longer a best-kept secret, Puglia is the place for a fabulous summer getaway, with its exquisite, unspoilt secluded beaches, charming history, rustic Italian cuisine and spectacular scenery. When Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel married in Puglia in 2012, the secret was revealed, and now wealthy Europeans and British holidaymakers flock there to enjoy its numerous resorts and stunning facilities.
One of the most charming aspects of this magnificent region are the fortified farmhouses, called masserias, which are located all over the region. Built in the 16th Century so that multiple families could live together on the farm and defend themselves from the Saracens from North Africa, who used to come by sea to raid the farms on the Italian coastline, some of these masserias still exist today. One of those is the Borgo Egnazia Resort, where Timberlake and Biel tied the knot. But there are others, too, that have been refurbished and redesigned into ultra-luxurious villas that holidaymakers can rent.
One of the most newly renovated masserias is a magnificent farmhouse called The Masseria Petrarolo, which opened to guests this summer. Owned by British entrepreneur Constant Tedder, who is based in Hong Kong and founded The Hive, a series of coworking spaces in that city, this masseria was designed by the head designer of Soho House, James Waterworth. It nestles in a 75-acre olive grove and is quite exquisite, with 9 en suite bedrooms, a stunning dining room that seats up to 20 people, two swimming pools (one on the rooftop, the other located in the grounds) as well as a traditional old-fashioned citrus grove and a vegetable garden.
Hire of this superlative villa includes a chef, housekeeper and concierge – plus a chauffeur if you need one. The housekeeper is Stefana, who manages the team, while the concierge focuses on service and arranging meals, cocktails and serving at the table. There’s also a maid team who clean in the morning and turn the beds down in the evening. The level of service is personal and attention to detail is paramount.
When Constant Tedder originally bought the masseria, he planned to transform it into a family home that he would rent out when he was working abroad. It was originally very rustic, just dirt floor and plain stone, and used for keeping cows, pigs and chickens. He hired James Waterworth to transform the farmhouse into something spectacular, and that is exactly what occurred. As the designer was aware of the history of masserias, he took great care into transforming this farmhouse, creating an informal yet extraordinary homestead.
The masseria is exquisitely decorated with French antiques and custom-made pieces as well as decorative elements that are quite theatrical. There are no pictures on the walls; the design of the interior and the furnishings create enough of an ambience.
If you’re planning to rent this spectacular masseria, you can land a private jet at Bari, about 40 minutes’ drive away. Most Americans fly to Rome and then drive to Puglia from there – it takes about 4 hours.