Who would guess that funky furnishings and designer flair awaits families within the whitewashed stone walls and beneath the pointy, pinnacle rooftops of the ancient Puglian Trulli, Contrada Fantese. 200-year old farm buildings this may have been, but owners, Sharon and Henrik have brought their 3-bedroom trulli bang up the date with a sophisticated, minimalist makeover that lets the original character really shine through and combines simple luxury with high spec mod cons.
Young and old will be enchanted by the cool, cave-like interior of conical vaulted ceilings and honey-stone walls, floors and archways, whilst the clean lines and absence of clutter is incredibly calming and conducive to chilling out. But it’s not just the style of Contrada Fantese that gets the BFB thumbs up because the owners have also well equipped their trulli for little ones, from all the essentials for feeding, bathtime and bedtime, to a ‘baby box playpen’ of 70 coloured balls, floor puzzle mat, soft block set, children’s DVD’s and more. The contemporary kitchen is well-equipped for family self catering and there is a TV, iPod dock and amazingly good wi fi, both inside and out, to satisfy digital natives. The friendly housekeeper, Imma, will always be happy to help with whatever families need, from pre-arrival shopping to home-cooked ready meals and pizza making lessons for children can also be arranged.
Stepping outside Contrada Fantese, families will be just as wowed by a beautiful pool with stunning views of the hills beyond, shady pergolas for eating outdoors and a Mediterranean garden where children can play amongst fig, olive and walnut trees. The 12x4m salt-water pool is quite shallow all the way across and has steps for easy access, where toddlers can splash around with parents. A paddling pool, arm bands and pool toys are also provided as well as a play house and trikes to keep children happily occupied while parents catch forty winks in the sun.
Contrada Fantese comprises 5 of the distinctive, conical trulli towers which have been beautifully converted into a spacious, 3 bedroom villa for up to 6 people plus up to 2 babies in cots. The exposed stone walls and high, glass-domed ceilings, make the villa feel wonderfully airy and there is a large fireplace in the sitting room, where families can get comfy on a pair of funky sofas and watch TV, DVD’s or listen to music through an iPod. The contemporary kitchen, in stone and wood, is fully fitted with modern appliances, including a gas hob, oven, dishwasher, microwave and coffee machine, plus there are all the accessories families could need, from a food processor and hand blender to a bottle heater, bottle steriliser, plastic crockery and cutlery. A separate utility room with sink and washing machine is situated outside the house. The dining area has a modern glass table and six designer chairs, plus one high chair is provided and another can be attached to a chair. The villa has three bedrooms, comprising one with a king-size bed, one with a queen size bed and one with a single bed that has a pull out bed underneath to make a twin room if required. The master bedroom has an ensuite shower room and there is a separate bathroom, both finished in contemporary porcelain, stone and wood. Both the double bedrooms have space for a cot, as well as the third bedroom if set up as a single, and two travel cots are available. Doors from all the rooms at Contrada Fantese open to an inner courtyard and a stone dining table in a pergola overlooks the surrounding hills and Valle d'Itria. A stone path winds down to the fenced, 12m x 4m pool and there is a poolside gazebo with a stone dining table. A field surrounding the pool has been landscaped with Mediterranean plants and children can play in the shade of fig, olive and walnut trees.
Contrada Fantese was originally a traditional Pugliese ‘masseria’, meaning farm, which is surrounded by fields in the middle of the Valle d’Itria and boasting stunning views from the garden of the surrounding hills towards Cisternino and Locorotondo. A small supermarket is just a short drive away and the beautifully unspoilt old town of Cisternino is only 1.5 miles away with a traditional central piazza lined with restaurants, bars and gelateria. Puglia is renowned for its delicious regional dishes and Cisternino is especially noted for its ‘barbecuing butchers’ who will cook their local meat specialities while families sample a carafe of the fine local wine. The Pugliese orecchiette pasta, meaning little ears, is sure to go down well with children, as well as the indulgent Italian ice cream and sweet desserts.
Besides Cisternino, Locorotondo is one of several historic towns in the Valle d’Itria, known as the ‘balcony of the valle d’Itria’ and one of the prettiest walled hilltop towns in Puglia. Alberobello is perhaps the most famous, being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the ultimate ‘trulli town’, like something from a fairytale, which children will love. The old streets are pedestrianised and a pleasure to stroll around, with many of the trulli now converted into trattorias, galleries and artisan gift shops. Martina Franca is the largest historic town in the valley and the chalky white walls of hilltop Ostuni makes a dramatic sight from far and wide, known as Le Citta Blanca.
Besides the scenic and historic treasures in this the Valley, the sea is never very far away in Puglia and Contrada Fantese is also only 25 minutes from a sandy beach at Torre Canne. Slightly further north, Monopoli is another lovely old town by the sea, with a sandy bay and many restaurants to enjoy fabulous fresh caught fish and seafood. To the south, Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve is protected marine reserve and a paradise for nature lovers, combining unspoilt woods with miles of sandy beach and a good chance of spotting flamingos.
Nearest medical services: Cisternino, 1.5 miles.
Getting here: Brindisi (45 mins) is the closest airport to the villa, with Ryanair and Easyjet flights from the UK. Flights are also available from the UK to Bari (1 hour 15 mins).