Saturday 23 July 2011

La Pagghiara, near Torre Suda, Puglia, Italy

A few miles inland from Torre Suda, south-east of Gallipoli, La Pagghiara is in a small group of holiday homes with a communal swimming pool, a well-tended garden and a sizeable paddock, home to several horses. The most atmospheric (and expensive) option on the site, La Pagghiara is housed in a venerable nineteenth century trullo. It is a rough-hewn building with a flat, but cordoned-off, roof terrace. Inside the extraordinarily thick stone walls, a narrow little corridor leads from the spacious and rustic kitchen to the first in a series of three bedrooms, each with their own patio door, protected by a sturdy wrought-iron frame. The master bedroom isn’t much bigger than the double bed, but the conical roof, the connecting corridors and the distressed wooden furniture give this villa plenty of charm. Moreover, everything is spotlessly clean. Although it lacks a dishwasher, the kitchen is well-equipped and is decorated with eye-catching fittings, such as an ornate cast-iron, wood-burning stove, a massive stone sink with bronze taps and a blackened fireplace.

Soothingly peaceful
Near the trullo, is a stone archway, a big barbecue, an outside shower and a well-shaded gazebo with a wooden table, where you eat most of your meals. The large and enclosed swimming pool, lined with light sandstone, is overlooked by a mini amphitheatre and is flanked by comfortable shaded sun loungers and stone tables. You are not supposed to use the pool between 1pm and 4pm, presumably because the occupants of the nearby villas could be having a siesta. In any case, La Pagghiara is far enough away from the main road to be soothingly peaceful, as long as the car alarm at a nearby property isn’t misfiring. The only real gripes are the profusion of flies in July, the barren surrounding countryside and the stiff, brittle door keys, which can snap in the locks, if you aren’t careful. The Italian owners speak very little English, but they are helpful and are even prepared to come out at midnight to settle you in. Better still, you are a short drive from Gallipoli (a historic and attractive port with good restaurants) and the decent beaches south of the town. 8/10