Home less than 48 hours at this writing, memories of Puglia come to us as if they are dreams.
Of our ten glorious days in the region, book-ended by Rome, the five we lived in bucolic bliss at the Masseria Cervarolo, just outside of Ostuni, are the ones that now seem the most impossibly beautiful.
Some of my recollections are fevered in a literal way. By the time we arrived at Cervarolo, I was ten days into an illness that had morphed from viral to bacterial. Overcoming it would require a morning in the pronto soccorso at Ostuni’s regional hospital and a remarkable quantity of pharmaceuticals prescribed by a pulmonologist employed by the National Health Service.
Built in the 16th century and restored over five years to open in 2010, Masseria Cervarolo was originally a fortified farm structure on a hill about 6 kilometers from Ostuni.
Teo, our bearded, handsome host, graciously took us on a brief tour of the property. He and all of his staff were highly capable and professional. Most touching to me, they were extremely kind, worrying over my sickness and urging me towards good care.
Even with the perfect weather, the common spaces would later draw me in more than once to curl up with a book. On our first evening, we enjoyed a wine tasting in the living room with other guests and a local sommelier.
The rooms are comfortable, but not enormous. The linens and bath products (made from local olive oil) are luxurious.
But we felt at our most decadent sleeping with the windows open. We could see the stars in the clear dark sky of the countryside, with only the gentle breeze for a soundtrack. The air did my lungs good.
Dinner is a quiet, relaxed affair. The chef, an affable ginger who is comfortable visiting in multiple languages, works the room and walks guests through the menu, which varies from night to night and is distinctly local.
If you’re looking for a bit more excitement, the staff will be happy to book a reservation in Ostuni, about ten minutes away by car. Locals typically dine after nine in the evening and carry on until the wee hours, even on work nights.
Breakfast is included, simply delicious, and begins at a very civilized 8:30 a.m. Wet hair and bare feet were all the rage during our visit. Expect to see some adorable children noshing on proper food. No Fruit Loops here.
Our last full day, like all the others on our visit to Puglia, dawned sunny with a forecast of 80. My cough had finally subsided such that it didn’t raise alarmed glances among fellow guests.
We spent most of the morning by the sprawling pool. We read and sunned ourselves, braving frequent dips in the September cooled water. Midday, we enjoyed a light lunch and a glass of wine at the adjacent bar.
Our departure included genuine hugs and invitations to return. We certainly plan to. The warmth of Puglia is the happiest remedy I could have found.
Masseria Cervarolo, S.P. 14 Ostuni-Martina Franca, Contrada Cervarolo, 72017, Ostuni, Brindisi, +39.0831.303729, email@example.com. Doubles start at 175 Euros per night.