Borgo San Marco

Fasano, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Book from £91 per night

A 15th-century boho-chic masseria near the sea, with beach-style pool, ancient olive groves and a relaxed vibe
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.

Highs

  • 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 boho-chic and historic grandeur
  • Family-friendly, with a choice of suites for up to 5 people, including some with kitchenettes
  • Sat between Fasano and the sea, you're well placed to explore the area's pretty beaches and charming hill-top towns
  • 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

Lows

  • The constant hum of traffic from the nearby motorway can shatter the illusion of rural bliss
  • Rooms in the courtyard-facing outhouses are simpler, and others are quite a walk from the hotel facilities
  • The restaurant closes for winter, has received mixed feedback and only serves a set menu – but our 2017 experience was amazing...
  • WiFi is only available in the reception area – not in rooms or other communal areas
  • Staff are stretched to the point of being noticeably absent

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...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Family
Spa
Wedding
  • 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: Suite Dependance Isola Piccolo

Rooms

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.

Those in the tower 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 they're 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. All rooms have ensuite shower rooms, air-conditioning, a small TV (but no WiFi) 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 tad isolated but certainly more private.

The Superior Suites in the tower have lovely views: we stayed in sea-view Don Vittorio, but we also loved Don Ferdinando, which has an in-room sunken Jacuzzi - great for romantics. 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

Eating

In nice weather, meals are taken on the terrace overlooking a walled garden peppered with old olive trees; on chillier days there’s a vaulted dining room. Whilst some feedback on the food has been lacklustre, our dinner experience was incredible – the best meal of our trip by far. We opted for the fish set menu, and we were deluged by plate upon plate of the most beautifully cooked fresh seafood. The freshest anchovies we’ve ever had, handmade focaccia, light prawns on a green bean mash, scallops on white bean puree, baked sea bream with parmesan covered courgette, seafood risotto…the list goes on. Nothing pretentious, just good home cooked Puglian food at its best – with the freshest ingredients doing the talking. You’ll need to tell reception whether you’re going to be eating in for lunch or dinner in advance. The restaurant is open seasonally (March-October); you’ll need to tell reception whether you’re going to be eating in for lunch or dinner in advance.

Breakfast is a simpler but more than adequate Italian buffet, including homemade cakes and pastries, cheese, yoghurt and fruit, plus fresh coffee. Two of the suites have kitchenettes, with sinks, electric hobs, basic pots and crockery - enough for breakfast, salads or heating baby food. There's also a lounge-bar area for a nightcap (but good luck finding the barman)…

If you forget to book ahead, or visit out of season, there are good local restaurants in the surrounding towns and coastline. There's a comprehensive list at reception, but options include a cave-restaurant in the medieval seaside town of Polignano, a Michelin-starred hideaway in the village of Ceglie Messapica and an acclaimed family restaurant with vast subterranean wine cellar in the trulli-town of Alberobello.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • You're well placed to explore the Adriatic and the white towns of trulli country. The area has some of Italy's loveliest beaches. We also loved both Ostuni (beautiful hilltop town) and Polignano al Mare (clifftop medieval town with little swimming coves) - both within a 30-minute drive
  • Tour the museum and archaeological park of Egnazia (8km): 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
  • Hike the pristine horseshoe bays of Torre Guaceto nature reserve (30 mins' drive and a short walk); there's 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
  • Alberobello has the best concentration of trulli houses, although it is quite touristy. Martina Franca is best for Baroque palazzi and shopping, while Locorotondo and Cisternino are best for white winding alleys)
  • Horse-riding from the agriturismo of Il Frantoio (near Ostuni)
  • Back at the borgo, visit the property's restored byzantine frescoes or cool off in the lake-edged pool
  • Better yet, unwind in the gorgeous spa, with Turkish bath, warm and cold Jacuzzis, and a visiting therapist who can offer massages (Thai, Gestalt, Hot Stone etc), Ayurvedic treatment, Foot Reflexology, and Reiki

Activities on site or nearby include:

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

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and will love the beach-edge pool and spacious grounds - all those trees are perfect for hide and seek!

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Standard Rooms (sleeps 2-3) have space for a baby cot or extra bed; some can can interconnect.
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. The Suite Dependance olive grove view (Falco and Volpe) are in a secluded outhouse (200m away) and sleep 4. They have a kitchenette and patio gardens, but the steep drop over the neighbouring wall makes them unsuitable for toddlers. Suite Depedance Isola Grade and Isola Piccola are in a secluded building 600m from the main house.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement; English-speaking babysitters can be arranged if requested

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Pushchair
  • 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 Suite Dependance with kitchenettes (Falco and Volpe). The Don Ferdinando Suite has an in-room sunken Jacuzzi and is not recommended for families with small children.

Distances:

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

Location

Borgo San Marco is just outside the town of Fasano, in Puglia, southern Italy.

By Air
The closest airports are Brindisi (45km / 40 minutes) and Bari (55km / 50 minutes). Borgo San Marco can arrange transfers from both airports, but we'd recommend hiring a car to explore the wider area.

By Train
There are trains from Rome to Fasano (but not direct), but you'll struggle to explore without a car.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.com.

Read our guide to Getting to Italy and Getting around

Airports:

  • Brindisi 45.0 km BDS
  • Bari 55.0 km BRI

Other:

  • Beach 2.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 12 independent reviews from i-escape guests

7/10
Room
7/10
Food
7/10
Service
7/10
Value
7/10
Overall

The place is quiet, and the swimming pool great for kids. The lunches and dinner are typical: plenty of antipasti to start, pasta, main course, deserts etc so you need to take your time. But you are never hungry between meals, it is all made with fresh ingredients, it is super tasty and varied, this is real Italian food - forget Carluccio's or Jamie Oliver's terrible dishes. Plus you won't put on any weight - guaranteed - as it's all fresh and varied. Expect to find London couples with higher income in their 40's and their 2 kids.

8/10,

No wifi in the rooms. Apart from that it's a lovely place.

9/10,

Beautiful and authentic setting. Pool was large with nice comfortable cabanas. Lunch was really good - they should promote that you can have a lighter lunch though as we only found out by accident. Dinner didn't always follow advertised menu which was disappointing (after a delicious dessert the first time I was holding out for the advertised parfait but got watermelon the next time). Nice friendly and helpful staff - nothing was too much trouble. Massage was also very good. A trip to Ostuni is a must as the view is stunning with lots of interesting shops.

9/10,

Beautiful hotel with lovely rustic feel. Lovely pool with plenty of loungers in the shade. The room we had, in the grounds of the hotel, was a basic box but had good air con and showers. It was however about 1km from the hotel which is unwalkable in the heat and with small children. I wouldn't book into the distant rooms again but would book into the hotel rooms. We were there when all rooms were booked but it felt very empty....there was no one in the restaurant except for breakfast. We had lunch there one day which was not very exciting food. No one seemed to eat there at night. A car is an absolute must. There are some interesting towns nearby.

6/10,

Very beautiful grand place, amazing gardens which our daughter enjoyed exploring. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay - very peaceful. The young girl at reception was most helpful with advice on daily trips, and the groundsman Fernando took time out to play with our 3-year old, very lovely. Pool was gorgeous, likewise the indoor pool very toddler-friendly. The negatives would be - there was a white powder coming off the walls in our room "Fornaio" - you could not brush past a wall without having it flake off all over you. This was off-putting. We would also have liked to know upfront that there was a daily charge for a cot, this was not flagged at the beginning. It was a shame the meals were so expensive, as a result we did not try them once.

7/10,

Staff are very helpful and very friendly. There were times when it was hard to find staff but we did go out of season. The Borgo is beautiful but it is very strange that given that a car is needed to stay there, a 3 Euro payment is asked to park on a nightly basis.

7/10,

We were disappointed with the Dependance room right at the other end of the olive grove, comfortably enough fitted out if rather dour with none of the eye-catching colours on the website or in the main house public rooms. Our arrival at the Borgo coincided with a downpour which presumably partly explained why we were not given a tour of/any welcome information on the site. Food at breakfast and in the evening was good, although you pay quite a premium for the privilege of dining in. The staff seem generally over-stretched. It is conveniently located from transit points and there is plenty to explore locally. We're unlikely to return.

6/10,

Mavie in reception was superb at helping us and giving us recommendations. Stephania behind bar was also excellent as was odd job man but the meals were exceptionally slow even by Italian standards. We ate at many other restaurants outside the hotel as well as having dinner twice in the hotel. The hotel is full of charm and character and the location is great but the bedrooms look a bit neglected.

6/10,

I came here for a rest, and boy did I get it. The staff were so welcoming, even via email before I arrived, and the rooms are very spacious, meaning I really felt at home (I was trying to travel at a reasonable cost, but was still given a suite in the tower, and was then upgraded to another for my sixth and final night). The swimming pool is idyllic, no rush for loungers at any point, and the lawned surrounds to the masseria are lovely places to read or enjoy a glass of vino once you've dragged yourself away from the pool for the evening. Having no car, I was initially worried about dining with a set price per meal, but this arrangement in fact added up to little more than my weekly supermarket shop at home, plus local wine is included, and it was a highlight of every day. You eat whatever the brilliant chef has found in season locally and feels like cooking: perfection. It certainly took me a while to learn Puglian pacing, and to get the hang of perfect pasta being merely a prelude to the main course. The bar and restaurant staff were so friendly and kind, even if I must have seemed an odd single guest, simply sleeping and reading for a week: they would marvel very sweetly at breakfast, "More books! More books!"... before wishing they could do the same. I know I will dream of returning.

10/10,

Lovely hotel in a great position to explore Puglia. Food was excellent and staff very friendly.

9/10,

{{ review.rating }}/10, {{ review.firstName }}Anonymous{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Borgo San Marco

Check Availability