Five Italian hotspots to book now
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
A Puglia villa with pulling power
Although villa specialist The Thinking Traveller now represents properties as far afield as Corsica and Patmos, it’s been operating in Puglia for 14 years, and knows the lie of the land. It has just added Casino Doxi Stracca, a compound sleeping 12 that’s a few kilometres inland from the beautiful Ionian city of Gallipoli.
Its five acres of olive groves and vineyards provide the sense of sanctuary; set in their midst are an 18th-century manor house, an older farmhouse and, between them, a charming chapel – now home to a large cook’s kitchen and breakfast room. The main pool is long and floored in chequerboard tiles. The overall decor is softly contemporary, with some whimsy here and there in the form of wall murals and ceramics and pottery dating back to the 10th century. thethinkingtraveller.com, from €8,700 per week
Towering chic on Capri
September is peak Capri time – fresh evenings, still-warm sea, scanter day-trippers; and now’s time to book. Cédric Reversade has long had the corner on Capri’s best and most beauteous holiday villas (they don’t come cheap, but they do come impeccably serviced and invariably have the best views, coordinates and design on the island). New to the portfolio this summer is La Torricella, a compact gem just outside Marina Piccola and a few metres’ walk from Torre Saracena (our stealth favourite beach club here: low-key, nice staff, killer vongole).
The tiny whitewashed tower sleeps just four, in two bedrooms. What it lacks in square metreage, though, La Torricella makes up in gorgeous good style: the spaces fizz with hothouse colours, handpainted murals and Fornasetti details; floors are tiled in white herringbone ceramic. There’s a tiny jewel of an open kitchen, washed in turquoise, and a wraparound terrace right above the sea, with views out to the Faraglioni. uniquepropertiesandevents.com, from €18,500
Blissful views (and pizzas) in Amalfi
Bill Heinecke founded the Anantara collection of hotels 22 years ago in Hua Hin, Thailand, and many still associate it with its south-east Asian roots. But today it operates in 23 countries – including Italy, where the Anantara Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel opened in May on the famous coast.
The undaring rooms may not make the deepest of impressions, but the views from the lovely 13th-century Capuchin convent in which the hotel is housed (perched a very walkable few hundred metres west of the historic town) probably will. Recently opened are a restaurant manned by Gino Sorbillo, the master Neapolitan pizzaiolo, and a signature Anantara Spa (about whose Asian roots we’re going to guess no one will complain). anantara.com, rooms from €1,300
Gourmet beach clubbing on Sicily
In Menfi, on the south-west coast of Sicily, the winemaking-hospitality powerhouse that is Francesca Planeta has a new hustle that will please those who know and love La Foresteria, the Planeta Estate’s winery with rooms: Insula, the beach club that the Estate inaugurated last month – open to clients of La Foresteria and, with an advance booking, to outside guests as well. It’s semi-hidden away in the dunes of Lido Fiori, a short drive from the Estate.
Sustainability and quality are Planeta keywords, so this offering promises to be small and considered, with fresh seafood and produce created by Foresteria head chef Angelo Pumilia in its 60-seat outdoor restaurant and more casual lounge bar (some Planeta products such as wine are sold in its small boutique). Beach loungers and umbrellas are scattered amid the dunes. planetaestate.it, rooms from €310
A Barolo “safari”
We’re always keen to know what Maremma Safari Club founder Rudston Steward is up to next. From the massifs of the Val Badia to Calabria’s ancient gorges and villages, his Italian walking tours go deep and delightful on local nature, lore, and gastronomy. One to put on your radar for October: a Barolo Safari across Piedmont, for the gourmand who likes to get in a few (but not too many) kilometres before degustation and dinner.
The four-day journey will average only about 10-12km a day, and will go long on truffles, castelmagno and robiola, and, naturally, some rare and fine expressions of the noble Nebbiolo grape wine – usually shared by their makers. Book for as many as 10 if you want a private version; hit his website now if you want to nab a spot on the 24 October group departure. maremmasafari.com, €2,500 per person; enquire for private-travel prices