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The country B&Bs of Puglia

Although Puglia now has its share of luxury resorts complete with golf courses and spas, staying at an agriturismo or B&B in the countryside or the historic center of Lecce will give you a more authentic taste of Puglia. Some, like the famous Il Melograno in Monopoli, are full-scale hotels and expensive; others are more modest and truly familial. Choose one or two as a base for exploring the surrounding region.

MASSERIA IL FRANTOIO

The place: S.S. 16, Kilometer 874, Ostuni (Brindisi), 011-39-0831-330276, www.masseriailfrantoio.it, or e-mail armando@trecolline.it.

The flavor: Well-known agriturismo (pictured above) on a working farm with more than 4,000 olive trees. Rooms are old-fashioned and not very big. Prices are per person, not per room, starting at $105 for adults, including a lavish breakfast spread. In high season, make reservations well in advance. Dinner is $70. Check the website for a list of books about the area.

AGRITURISMO MONTEPAOLO

The place: Contrada Montepaolo, Conversano; 011-39-080-495-5087, www.montepaolo.it.

The flavor: Great for families; moderately priced agriturismo in 16th century two-story stone building with pool and large garden. Ten simple rooms (no air conditioning) and rustic regional cooking from owner Niny Bassi. Doubles start at $103, including breakfast. Dinner, $26 per person.

BORGO SAN MARCO

The place: C. da S. Angelo, 33, Fasano; 011-39-080-439-5757; www.borgosanmarco.it.

The flavor: Perfect for bohemians, a rustic, suite-only agriturismo (shown below) once used by the Knights of Malta as a watchtower and military garrison. Rooms, painted in lush colors, are moderately priced compared to the luxe masserie in Fasano; some can be combined for larger family groups. It has a pool, but only a rudimentary restaurant. Comfortable but not luxurious. Adults starting at $125 per person.

HOTELS

AIA DEL VENTO

The place: 79 Via Locorotondo, Cisternino; 011-39-080-444-8388, www.aiadelvento.it.

The flavor: Conventional business hotel on the outskirts of Cisternino with large, nicely decorated rooms; free parking and a helpful staff. Very well-priced and a convenient location for visiting the countryside, particularly for those who may find the bed and breakfast experience too up close and personal. Doubles start at $53 per person, not per room.

TORRE MAIZZA MASSERIA

The place: C. da Coccaro, Savelletri di Fasano; 011-39-080-482-7838; www.masseriatorremaizza.com.

The flavor: New luxury hotel (sister to nearby Torre Coccaro) with spa, pool, private beach and golf. Tutti conforti, as they say in Italy — with all the comforts, plus sleek good looks but without much soul. You could be anywhere. But if you miss your luxe bathroom and crave a thick terry robe, this is the place. Doubles start at $367, including breakfast.

BED AND BREAKFAST

IL CONVENTO DI SANTA MARIA DI COSTANTINOPOLI

The place: Strada Provinciale per Castro, Marittima di Diso (a half an hour south of Lecce); Athena MacAlpine; 011-44-7736-362-328 e-mail athenamalpas@yahoo.com.

The flavor: Fabulously chic and soulful, this is the country house of Lord Alastair MacAlpine and his wife, Athena. It offers great privacy and luxury in a 16th century former convent a half-hour’s drive south of Lecce and a few miles from the sea. Breakfast, lunch and laundry service are included in the $459-per-couple price; dinner is $53 extra per person. Rooms are decorated with a collection of African folk art and textiles. There’s also a stunning pool surrounded by cactus and rare cycads. I never wanted to leave.

— S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times


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