Lama di Luna

near Andria, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from

A paragon of eco-minimalism: an 18th-century fortified estate with monastically calm bedrooms, pure and perfect food, and 190 hectares of organic heaven
If you want to slip away from commercialism and clamour, book a cheap flight to Bari and head north to the somewhat unlikely environs of Andria. Here, amid low rocky hills overlooking the olive-studded coast, sits a squat fortified farm with 40 chimneys bristling around a gravelled courtyard. The great iron gates swing open and you're greeted by Pietro, a gentle, unassuming father of two who spends his summers harvesting olives and fruit, and his winters crafting furniture from giant fennel trunks.

Lama di Luna excels not for what it has, but what it doesn't have: no gimmicks, no distractions, no noise. You're ensconced in thick vaulted bedrooms, you sleep in unbleached cotton sheets on feng-shui beds, you wash with pure olive soap, you breakfast on organic jams. If you want to explore, the fantastical Bourbon Castel del Monte and the under-rated port of Trani await; by happy coincidence, one of Puglia's finest restaurants hides in the village down the lane. But don't plan too much: bring a good book, a special companion, and empty your mind. That's what it's all about.

Highs

  • Inspirational eco technology (48 solar panels power a computer-controlled heating system) and nothing wasted (fennel offcuts are used for key fobs)
  • No sharp edges, no artificial materials, radial wiring so as not to create magnetic fields
  • Pietro's an excellent host, offering multilingual advice, free bicycles and restaurant bookings (essential)
  • You can help harvest grapes, pick olives or make pizzas in the old oven

Lows

  • The surroundings seem unimpressive: low hills, endless olive groves, drab-looking Canosa and Andria - but all repay patient exploration
  • The building looks austere but the rooms are cosy and warm (glowing eco lighting and underfloor heating)
  • The nearest beaches (Barletta, Margherita di Savoia) are not Puglia's best

Best time to go

Come in spring (April-early June) or autumn (September-October) 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). Summer gets quite busy, though not as hectic as the coastal resorts of course.

Our top tips

Most guests come for 2-3 days, but if you really want to unwind you could happily stay for 4-5 days without running out of things to do.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
  • All ages welcome.
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

If you're wondering how there come to be so many chimneys, the answer is that the masseria once housed no fewer than 26 tenant-farmer families, each living in what is now one guest bedroom, warmed by its own fireplace. Pietro has converted many of the spaces to reading rooms and workshops, leaving just 8 guest bedrooms, a Family Suite, plus 2 luxurious Wellness Suites - so don't worry, there's not the slightest feeling of crowdedness anymore!

The 6 Coloni Rooms are in the north wing: they are simpler and taller, with wooden beds aligned according to fengshui principles, and electric wiring arranged to go in spokes rather than rings to avoid creating magnetic fields. The 2 Murgia rooms are in the south wing: a tad larger (and more expensive), with magnificent 19th-century brass beds and curving roof vaults made from clay cylinders to create a smooth, rounded look. Wellness Suites offer a Jacuzzi and Turkish bath - very romantic.

Bedrooms are monastically pure and simple, pared down to what you might call natural luxury. Walls of chunky undressed stone alternate with warm orange-ochre limewash, and you can light the massive corner hearth during the cooler months. It's all very cosy. Ensuite bathrooms come with shower or tub, a pretty ceramic basin on a wooden stand, and soap made from his own olive oil.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • WiFi

Eating

A suitably pure and organic breakfast is laid on, served in a separate building with a circular stone oven, or on its terrace looking over endless olive groves. Expect lots of fresh fruit (whatever's in season), some local cheeses, bruschetta and fresh bread, a little saucer of yoghurt and honey, pots of orange or quince jam and maybe a cake, these last made by Pietro's helper Sara. It's a fine start to the day.

Pietro also organises occasional communal dinners, especially when the place is full, and often involving DIY pizzas grilled to a crisp in the huge round oven (very popular with younger guests).

But, without wishing to detract at all from this, the culinary highlight of the area - and you should ask Pietro to book it at the same time as your room - is the tiny but truly outstanding Antichi Sapori restaurant in the hamlet of Montegrosso (2km). It was without doubt the best meal we had in Puglia, well worthy of a Michelin star, and not as expensive as you'd think. What you get is a glorious sequence of 20 mini-dishes, all using traditional Puglian recipes prepared with panache and passion by a trio of chefs - all brothers.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • If you only visit one thing, Castel del Monte, built by Frederick II in the 1240's, is the most extraordinary of Puglia's castles and a stunning example of Swabian architecture
  • Visit the beautifully preserved port of Trani, with its colourful marina, and its huge Normal cathedral right on the water's edge. There's also an imposing courthouse, medieval customs buildings (still bearing the names of the countries they represented) and a Jewish quarter with 3 synagogues
  • Exploring inland, Altamura is home to southern Italy's finest archaeological museum, which traces the Murge people from prehistory to late medieval times; and to a striking mixed-style duomo. It's not much further to Gravina, a castle-town clinging to a ravine, and to the biblical cave-houses of Matera, where Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ was filmed
  • Heading north, the spa-resort of Margherita di Savoia has thermal baths, vast salt pans and Ramsar-protected wetlands with migratory birds (flamingoes, stilts, egrets, ibis, herons and swarms of avocets)
  • Or, of course, you can stay in and walk, jog or cycle around the estate (mountain bikes are provided free); relax in the library or in the pool-hammam-massage area; or watch the grapes being picked, the olives being pressed and the fruit being preserved

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Sailing
  • Swimming

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome; cots and extra beds are available. There are free mountain bikes and farm activities to keep them entertained, and beaches 20-30km away

Family friendly accommodation:

There's a Family Suite and Family Wellness Suite which can sleep up to 4 plus a baby. All the other rooms can sleep up to 3 with the use of an extra bed or sofabed.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

7/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Lama di Luna