Borgo San Marco

Fasano, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from

Hugely hospitable 15th-century masseria near the sea, with flower-fringed lawns, beach-style pool, ancient olive groves and atmospheric boho-chic rooms
Of all the masserie (fortified farmhouses) in Puglia, this stands out for its easy-going atmosphere, its wonderful grounds and its no-nonsense prices. Built by the Knights of Malta to guard the Adriatic coast from Saracens, it's medievally handsome: a monumental tower, cool vaulted rooms, a wedding-cake chapel. Its 90-hectare grounds offer all the space a you could need: shady lawns, a walled citrus garden and a glorious beach-edge pool, festooned with delphiniums and bougainvillea.

It's been in the Amati family for 200 years and the current owner added his own eclectic touches to the 1981 restoration, while maintaining its prized olive oil production. You'll find, in the stone-flagged drawing room, a gleaming 1950's MotoGuzzi beside the huge-wheeled frantoio (oil press); in the rustic rooms and suites scattered about the tower and outhouses, a vigorous mix of Puglian whitewash and burnt pastels, of brightly quilted stone beds and classic muslin-draped four-posters. A fun, bohemian and totally unpretentious place.


  • A wonderful arrival: past century-old olive groves, through a monumental gate and into a court dominated by a four-square ochre tower
  • Pretty but not overdecorated rooms, a mix of ethnic-chic and historic grandeur
  • Family-friendly, with a choice of suites for up to 5 people, including 2 with kitchenettes
  • Warm, generous, family-friendly staff
  • All the ingredients of a masseria - 500-year-old tower, vaulted rooms, olive groves, sea horizons - but none of the pretentions of its pricier neighbours


  • No private lido (beach area) - but miles of coast to choose from
  • Rooms in the courtyard-facing outhouses are simpler, and housed in a low barn-like building
  • Food is variable, but wonderful if the chef himself is cooking. Bear in mind that the restaurant is closed in winter.
  • It's very popular with families so couples looking for a quiet summer break should avoid
  • Staff are sometimes a bit over-stretched

Best time to go

In summer, Puglia is extremely busy - in mid August you can barely find beach space to lay your towel - and it's way too scorchio for comfort. Come in spring (April-early June) or autumn (Sept-Oct) if you possibly can. The weather then is perfect for gentle exploration, and swimming is quite feasible until early November (though in April it's chilly).

Our top tips

Art and history lovers are in for a treat: there are some restored Byzantine frescoes within the borgo grounds - the ancient cave church that’s housing these paintings is unlocked every afternoon, but you can ask at reception if you want to go to look at them another time.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 18
  • Restaurant (seasonal) and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Vescovo twin?? Standard Room for 2-3


The 18 rooms and suites are scattered between the main tower, some courtyard-facing stable blocks, and a couple of outhouses tucked among olive groves 200-500m from the main building.

Tower rooms are the most impressive, with tall star vaults painted earthy red or pale yellow on the side walls, and whitewashed above. Rooms in the outhouses are lower and lack the wow factor, but still spacious. Smooth cement floors are covered in thick sheepskins; ancient vaults are washed in pale plum, burnt sienna or sky blue; beds are the traditional Puglian mattress-on-a-cement-base. The feel is rustic-chic but not overly polished. All rooms have ensuite shower rooms, air-conditioning, a small TV (but no phone) and some form of terrace or patio (shared, in some cases).

Standard Rooms are straightforward doubles (suitable for 2-3), Standard Suites have a second room with up to 2 single sofabeds, which can be used as a living room or twin bedroom (suitable for 4-5 total). The 2 Suite Dependance (Isola Grande and Piccola), are set in an olive grove about 5 minutes’ away - a wonderfully isolated feel.

There are Superior Suites in the tower have lovely views, but our favourite was the Don Ferdinando Suite, which has a sunken Jacuzzi in the bedroom - great for romantics, less so for toddlers. The 2 outhouse Suite Depedance olive grove view (Falco and Volpe, 2-3 minutes' walk away) have a simple kitchen, with narrow sofas that double up as kids' beds. Handy for families, but be aware that it edges a former quarry, with a sharp drop beyond the low perimeter wall.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Tv
  • WiFi


Chef Peppino Palmisano used to run a popular restaurant in Fasano, and his aubergines with parmesan alla pugliese made him something of a local celebrity; so Alessandro was understandably proud of coaxing him to the Borgo, where he cooks up a storm alongside Lina Cucci. Peppino's equally (and justifiably) proud of his baked pepperoni and mussels, his oven-roasted sea bream with black olives, and his wire-thin fricelli (durum-wheat pasta) with cauliflower. There's nothing overly fancy about his cuisine - just good local ingredients prepared using traditional recipes and served fresh. You’ll need to tell reception whether you’re going to be eating in for lunch or dinner in advance. The meals are served buffet style, so you can help yourself to a fairly wide variety of primi and secondi dishes such as stuffed peppers and roast chicken with potatoes. The restaurant is open seasonally, from the beginning of March until the end of October.

Breakfast is a simpler but more than adequate buffet, including homemade cakes and croissants, with the additional option of ordering cooked breakfasts. Two of the suites have kitchenettes, with sinks, electric hobs, basic pots and crockery - enough for breakfast, salads or heating baby food, but not much more.

If you forget to book ahead, or visit out of season, don't panic - there are stacks of good restaurants in the surrounding towns and coastline, from top-notch fish dineries to spit-and-sawdust pizzerias. There's a comprehensive list at reception, but to whet your appetite, some of the options are: a cave-restaurant in the medieval seaside town of Polignano, a Michelin-starred hideaway in the village of Ceglie Messapica, a 10-course 3-hour feast of freshness at a local agriturismo, and an acclaimed family restaurant with vast subterranean wine cellar in the trulli-town of Alberobello.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant


Being just off the SS379 highway between Fasano and the sea, you're well placed to explore both the Adriatic - which has some of Italy's loveliest beaches - and the white towns of trulli country. You'll need a car, obviously, though they do have some (rather old) bicycles for local exploration. Local attractions include:

  • The museum and archaeological park of Egnazia (8km away): a 2,500-year-old Messapian port with over 2km of walls, still standing up to 7 metres high in places; plus later ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, temples and halls

  • The pristine horseshoe bays of Torre Guaceto nature reserve (30 mins' drive and a short walk); you can hike along 7km of turquoise shores and flowering maquis, passing a 16th-century watchtower and spotting wetland birds, kingfishers, tortoises and lizards

  • The more sheltered waters (if it's blowing from north or east) of the Ionian coast near Taranto; Pulsano and Gallipoli have stunning azure shallows (1 hour's drive)

  • Fasano (10 mins' drive), whose medieval centre comes alive for its Wednesday market; up the hill is Selva di Fasano, a lush beauty spot with restaurants

  • The pretty hill towns of Alberobello (best for trulli houses), Martina Franca (best for Baroque palazzi and shopping), Locorotondo and Cisternino (best for white winding alleys), and Ostuni (the loveliest of them all); all are within 20-30 mins' drive

  • Horse-riding from the agriturismo of Il Frantoio (near Ostuni)

  • Back at the borgo, unwind in the gorgeous spa, visit the property's restored byzantine frescoes or cool off in the lake-edged pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing


Children of all ages are welcome here, and will love the beach-edge pool with its hidden corners, the spacious grounds (all those trees - perfect for hide and seek!) and the friendly, laid-back staff. Having said that, the atmosphere is a tranquil one, so you might prefer to book a room in one of the more secluded suites (see below).

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Standard Rooms for 2-3 have space for a baby cot or extra bed, so they’re best for small families. Within this category, Isola Grade and Isola Piccola are in the secluded building 600m from the main house, while Vescovo Matrimoniale and Vescovo Doppia can interconnect (good for families with older children).

Most families will be glad of the extra space afforded by a Standard Room for 4-5, where a second room serves the dual purpose of living room and kids’ bedroom.

Suites Don Vittorio and Del Moro have space for 4 (plus a baby). Suite Don Ferdinando sleeps 3 (plus a baby) in two rooms and has a jacuzzi. Falco and Volpe are in a secluded outhouse (200m away) and have four beds, a kitchenette for preparing light snacks, and patio gardens, but those with small, mobile children may want to avoid these suites due to the steep drop over the neighbouring wall.


Babysitting available by arrangement - see rates. English-speaking babysitters can be arranged if requested.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chair
  • Pushchair available to borrow
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The suites with kitchenettes have basic cooking food prep facilities (hob, sink), enough to heat baby food but not much more. There is a microwave available for guests who need it. Food is available all day long, there is an early supper for children and plenty of nearby eateries.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Toddler-friendly swimming pool with shallow end
  • Hot tub
  • Outdoor playground and a large garden to explore
  • Farm animals nearby
  • Bikes

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Zoo safari, the biggest zoo in Europe, is 4km away
  • Playgrounds
  • Horse riding

Families Should Know:

There are some steep steps on site, including a steep drop behind the wall adjacent to the 2 suites with kitchenettes (Falco and Volpe). The Don Ferdinando suite has an in-room sunken Jacuzzi and is not recommended for families with small children.


  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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