Thursday 28 July 2011

Palazzo Guglielmo, Piazza Umberto, Vignacastrisi, Puglia, Italy

A real find, Palazzo Guglielmo is a substantial and handsome nineteenth century house in the heart of the small town of Vignacastrisi. Through the impressive front doorway, a large archway leads magically into an enormous walled garden, complete with an outdoor swimming pool, lined with wicker sun loungers, plus mature citrus and palm trees, shading sitting areas and elegant pathways. The 150-year-old house has cloistered ceilings, and an airy living room downstairs with comfy seats, mellow music and stacks of books about Salento. Unusually, there are also several fine communal rooms upstairs leading out to a series of roof terraces, the largest of which is lined with padded benches, cushion and drapes, and shaded by a bamboo canopy. Another terrace is equipped with a hot tub and yet another terrace offers views over the garden and the town’s rooftops. There is also free Wi-Fi and some adult bikes available for guests.

All these communal facilities are shared by perhaps a dozen guests. With high ceilings and stone floors, the stylishly-converted guest bedrooms in the old house and the 1960s extension are very large, clean, white and minimalist. Incongruously, some of the furnishings, such as the massive wooden beds and egg-shaped bedside lights, seem to be from south east Asia, but they have been tastefully-chosen. The smart, en-suite bathrooms are also large and well-equipped.

Home-made cakes
Breakfast is on a pleasant terrace overlooking the pool. The buffet features a selection of fantastic home-made cakes. If you don’t fancy too much sugar, there are also cereals, ricotta and bread, plus a big plate of chopped fruit for each table. You can order a variety of coffees from the warm, hard-working waitresses. If you aren’t up to speed on Italian coffee culture, it might be a while before you find the one you want. The cleaners are also very thorough, while the friendly owner has even been know to hold a drinks party on the roof terrace for guests and friends. Although decent beaches are a bit of a drive, Vignacastrisi is just a few miles from the picturesque and historic port of Castro. Great value for money, Palazzo Guglielmo is a gem. 9/10