Puglia has always been an extremely popular holiday destination for tourists from the U.K., but it seems to be just now attracting the attention of Americans. The rural “heel” of Italy’s boot is known for its beautiful beaches. It also produces 80% of the olive oil and pasta in Italy, and as we learned, also produces some amazing wines.
Borgo Egnazia is the only world class hotel in the region, and is an absolute must if you’re planning to experience Puglia for the first time. Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel had there wedding here, so while we were a bit apprehensive about experiencing this remote region of Italy again for the first time since college, we kept reminding ourselves, “If it’s good enough for Justin Timberlake….”
We were absolutely blown away by this incredible resort and will definitely return. The less than ten year old property was modeled after a historic Puglian hill town, so while it feels like stepping back in time, it has every modern amenity imaginable. There are three categories of accommodations — rooms in the main hotel building “La Corte,” townhouses lining small streets around the town square “Il Borgo,” and full villas intended for large families or groups traveling together.
The resort offers an extraordinary number of activities for both adults and children, but we found ourselves spending the most time by the two amazing pools. The service is attentive, and the pool bar offers a refreshing daily special cocktail made with fresh-squeezed juices and other local ingredients, like giant figs.
We did manage to pull ourselves away from the pool for a few hours for a pasta making class, where we learned to make traditional orecchiette and cavatelli by hand (more to come on that soon) and to take a walk through the neighboring centuries-old olive groves. If you love Italian food, sign up for our email list and download a copy of our Top Summer Italian Recipes e-book including the recipe for this pasta.
We had an unexpected extra day at Borgo Egnazia when our flight out was canceled, so we decided to make the best of it and experience their spa, which we would highly recommend.
The culinary program at Borgo Egnazia offers something for everyone — a seaside fish restaurant where you can dine al fresco, a rustic trattoria serving traditional Puglian specialities, and a beautiful fine dining restaurant with a daily tasting menu.
One aspect of Borgo Egnazia that most impressed us was their genius incorporation of rustic and agricultural accents into their five-star decor. Everything about the hotel is grand, but bowls of apples and wheat are interspersed with lanterns in the lobby, and abundant throw pillows and blankets on every seat make the hotel eminently inviting.
If you’re visiting without children, we would suggest booking a room in the main hotel building, which, with its pools, is adult-only during high season. While we also experienced a townhouse during our stay, we preferred the convenience of being in the hotel building, and the room somehow felt more luxurious.
After our trip to Sicily and Puglia, we’ve now been to all but four of Italy’s many and unique regions, and Puglia is on the top of our list of destinations to return. If you are an American reading this, we’d strongly encourage you to get out there and discover this incredible region that our friends in the U.K. have known about all along. There are no direct flights from the United States, but a visit to Puglia is the perfect excuse for a weekend in London before your holiday by the sea.