Like the serene
stone Buddha, meditating by the pool at Villa Azzurra, frazzled and fraught
parents can rediscover a little inner calm in this Puglian sanctuary of tranquility.
For owners, Allegra and James, the villa is their dream come true of creating a
retreat for themselves and their three children that others can enjoy as much
Allegra’s professional expertise as a stylist is obvious in
the light and airy minimalist interior design throughout, of white walls, cream
stone archways and smooth limestone floors which helps keep the place cool as
summer temperatures soar. In the rare, colder months, a modern fireplace is
right at the center of the spacious, open plan living room, dining room and
kitchen so families can feel nice and cosy while relaxing on the big squashy
sofas or sitting down to dinner. Besides the formal dining table, the kitchen
has a sizeable breakfast bar where babies and toddlers can munch on a chunk of
foccacia in the high chair provided while mum or dad rustle some ‘little ears’ pasta.
Villa Azzurra is
all on the ground floor, so there are no steps or stairs indoors to worry about
and listening out for babies in the bedrooms is that bit easier. There are four
spacious bedrooms in all, comprising two double bedrooms, one twin room and one
child’s triple. The two doubles have luxurious
ensuite bathrooms with twin sinks and walk-in showers, plus the villa has a
family bathroom and a separate WC.
surrounding the villa is a secluded oasis amongst citrus trees, fig trees and a
private, Mediterranean woodland. The focal point is a fabulous 20x10m pool,
which has been designed to compliment its surroundings amongst the trees and is
like stumbling upon a sparkling lake. Besides relaxing by the pool, families can
play table tennis or boules on the ‘bocce’ pitch and stoke up the barbecue on the
dining terrace for leisurely evenings as the stars come out. If parents don’t feel like cooking, homemade meals with 48 hours
notice. To help grown-ups relax even more, private yoga classes and shiatsu
massage can also be arranged at the villa, as well as pottery workshops and
cookery lessons, to learn how to make the most of the renowned Puglian produce.
sleeps up to 9 people, plus a baby in the wooden cot provided. Two double
bedrooms both have space for a cot and both have luxurious en-suite with double
sinks, walk-in shower and wc. Bedroom 3
has twin beds and is opposite the family bathroom, while bedroom 4 is ideal for
children with bunk beds and a single bed, next to a separate WC. All linen and pool towels are provided.
In the unspoilt
heel of Italy, Villa Azzurra is tucked away in the Itria Valley of Puglia,
between the ancient towns of Cisternino and Martina Franca. The rolling green
valley is crisscrossed with winding country lanes, vineyards, almond and olive
groves, and scattered with the distinctive circular ‘trulli’ buildings
with pointy conical bee-hive like roofs. No visit to Puglia is complete without
peaking inside a few trulli and Alberobello is the tourist capital of trulli
country, with literally hundreds of them, including many converted into artisan
workshops, gift shops and trattorias.
Villa Azzurra is
just a few minutes’ walk from the nearest restaurant and the beautiful old
towns of Cisternino and Martina Franca are just 10 minutes drive, with plenty
of shops and restaurants to try the renowned local produce and fine wines. Also
within 10 minutes drive is the ‘White City’ of Ostuni, perched high on a hilltop near
the coast and boasting many excellent restaurants with amazing sea views.
Puglia is famous
as a foodies’ paradise because so much of the finest fresh produce
used in Italian cooking comes from this region, from the fresh vegetables and
olive oil to superb fish and seafood. Orecchiette pasta, which means ‘little ears’ because of its shape, is a deliciously simple Puglian
speciality and the variety of foccacia breads are perfect for picnics.
fantastic food, Puglia is famous for its coastline, being bordered by both the
Ionian Sea and the Adriatic (25 minutes drive). The coast switches between
craggy headlands, sea grottos and some of the finest beaches in Italy,
including the unspoilt beach within the nature reserve of Torre Guaceto.
Nearest Medical Services: Hospitals in Cisternino and Martina
Getting There: Villa Azzurra is 45 minutes’ drive from Brindisi and 80 minutes
drive from Bari, both of which are served by direct flights with RyanAir from
Stansted Airport or British Airways from Gatwick.