White & gleaming, an architecturally stunning traditional masseria with modern design & a fabulous spa. A place to totally relax. A favourite of Long Travel customers.
Less than 1km from the Ionian Sea and about 7km from Lizzano, the boutique Masseria Bagnara is special. Sitting imposingly in a flat landscape, the traditional whitewashed masseria gleams. The long oleander-lined driveway takes the eye to one thing and one thing only – the striking fortified farmhouse, at the end. Yet, with its secrets hidden behind the façade, guests have only an inkling of what awaits. Once you go inside and are within its protected fortified courtyard, you will never want – nor need – to leave.
Part of a farm of 80 hectares, Alessandro, the owner, is something of a gentleman farmer and Masseria Bagnara has become his all-consuming passion. Filippo, the Manager, has joined forces and, together, they have created something magical, chic and exclusive. These guys have style; and so does Masseria Bagnara. A stunning traditional building has been blended perfectly with sleek, contemporary lines. The architectural use of prickly pears in pots against whiter than white walls, large white umbrellas, effective lighting so that white is always white – even at night – are just spectacular in their effects. The rooms are designer and elegant. The long, thin pool, on an elevated walled terrace, with a tiny glimpse of the sea, is sublime. The spa is amazing.
Dinner is an “event” – fine dining and “slow food” and the service is discreet. Most often served under Masseria Bagnara’s candle-lit arched terraces, spilling into the courtyard, it is romantic and enchanting. The creative chef uses high quality, fresh and seasonal ingredients to create masterpieces on a plate. More than likely, you will have been looking forward to dinner all day, as you will see the menu at breakfast, which is also a meal to linger over. If you are really lucky, Alessandro’s son, Amadeo, will be there (when he’s not at university) to advise you about wine. Goodness me, what a passionate and knowledgeable young man – we could have listened to him enthuse about wine all night! Ask to see his treasured wine cellar, in the trullo in the grounds – but don’t move, once inside! He has some very precious and expensive wines and one bottle, in particular, which could buy you a house in Puglia!
Nothing happens quickly at Masseria Bagnara. You need to sink into its relaxed, rather sophisticated ambience and let your cares drift away. Indeed, the atmosphere and the staff in their white uniforms, who saunter around quietly, slowly and discreetly remind us of some particularly laid-back and exclusive islands in the Indian Ocean, with a similar air of calm and tranquillity.
A perfect oasis from the hurly-burly of life! Masseria Bagnara is a place to escape to.
However, there is more than “escape” as the reason for choosing Masseria Bagnara……….
The Salento is the narrowing part of the heel of Italy’s boot, with the Ionian on one side, the Adriatic on the other, and only about 45km of land between the two. When most people think of the Salento, their minds skip over the area of the Ionian coast below Taranto and concentrate on Lecce and further south. Lizzano though, a sleepy little town, just 28km south of Taranto and 80km north of Gallipoli, is as much Salento as any of the others. In fact, Masseria Bagnara is in the “undiscovered” Salento, practically untouched by foreign tourism as yet, although well known to Italians, who flock to it in summer months.
Taranto is known as “the city of two seas” and the square-ish shape, which is the Gulf of Taranto, forms the instep of Italy’s boot. Travelling south of Taranto, along the inner part of the heel, the coastline is a varied one. There are great swathes of sandy beach and crystal blue sea, enticingly wild dune-backed stretches of shingle and rock, and some less attractive bits. There are serviced lidos, which are very popular and busy in high summer and at weekends, but almost deserted, or even closed, at other times. There are places, where you might find a spot to be completely alone. Much depends on the time of year.
Apart from the coast, the landscape is interesting and quite different from other areas of the Salento. Often lush, fertile and green with olive groves and vineyards, it can also be rugged and harsh, with ravines and rocky outcrops, caves and gorges.
There are many interesting and important places to visit from Masseria Bagnara. Within an hour’s drive are the famous Puglia areas of the Itria Valley and Martina Franca, the well-known Salento city of Lecce and Salento towns of Gallipoli, Otranto and others, and the beautiful Massafra (about 50km). However, my advice would be to take the opportunity to discover this area of the more undiscovered Salento. There is much to see. Visit Grottaglie (about 27km), Puglia’s world famous town of hand-made ceramics. As you are in the very heart of Puglia’s wine-producing country, most especially the leading DOC robust red Primitivo di Manduria, seek out Manduria (about 23km) and the museum of Primitivo wine. Just outside the town, stop off at the Archaeological Park, where you can see an ancient fountain inside a cave and remains of the impressive megalithic Messapian wall, as well as a large necropolis with more than 1200 tombs dating from the 6th century BC. Go to Oria, with its steep winding streets leading to a massive Gothic castle and battlements. Nearer still (within about 12km) are the smaller towns of Leporano, Fragnano, Maruggio and Torricella, with their castles, towers, churches and palazzi. Great to potter around, head for the centro storico (historic centre) and hope for the best! We never seem to go in and come out of the same roads and the town layouts are almost always chaotic and challenging (but easy when you know how, of course) – it’s an adventure.
So, if you can bear to tear yourselves away from Masseria Bagnara (and that’s a big “if” in our opinion), there’s certainly lots to do – and you may well be the first non-Italians to do it.