Masseria Alchimia

Fasano, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
Minimalist chic meets rural Puglia in this modernist masseria conversion, housing 7 self-catering studios for 2-5
A traditional whitewashed former convent and girls school, Masseria Alchimia has been converted into 7 self-catering studios by the super-efficient and welcoming Caroline. Each is stylishly pale and furnished with a roll call of design classics, including furniture by Ron Arad, Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton, Philippe Starck and Sori Yanagi. Minimalist modernism works well in this sunbleached landscape, and the blazing-white angles of the masseria bring to mind Le Corbusier or the Bauhaus, and allows the views to sing out - the intense blue sky, the silver-green of the surrounding olive groves and the glossy green fruit trees and shrubs.

It’s out in the countryside, yet close enough to the highway to make it easy to explore the region - as we discovered when we revisited with the kids in 2014. There are some buzzy beach clubs around Savelletri, Unesco-listed Alberobello is a short drive, and Fasano is an appealing, workaday town; but you can easily find a secluded spot to swim, and no end of olive groves for a private picnic or flowery ramble.

Highs

  • Minimalist urban chic and modern design classics in a tranquil rural setting with views over the fields
  • Excellent value for money, even in high season; Caroline has negotiated discounts with local restaurants and shops with her useful My Puglia card (given to guests on arrival)
  • All studios have sun-trap terraces for alfresco dining and lounging
  • Eco-friendly: measures include solar energy, recycling and controlled water consumption
  • Intimate setting - no town or hotel within sight - yet you're only 1km from the shops in Fasano and 3km from the beach

Lows

  • No pool, though the Deluxe Suite has an outdoor plunge pool, and the beach is a short drive away
  • No meals served, although there's enough provided on arrival to whip up a basic breakfast. The studios have small kitchenettes with fairly minimal facilities, so don’t expect to cook banquets
  • Not for those who prefer the full service provisions of a hotel, although the rooms are serviced daily
  • The small Standard Rooms have terraces alongside each other, so they're not very private

Best time to go

Puglia is lovely in spring (May-June), when the weather’s perfect, wild flowers run riot, and the beaches and towns are uncrowded. September and October are also great, especially as the sea has warmed up over the summer. It's packed, and hot, in August, but this is also prime time for the region’s many music and food festivals.

Our top tips

Stroll up through the fields of vegetables at the back of the property to the farm shops - Masseria Monte and Masseria Lama di Pecora - for lovely local produce to bring home to cook with. The kitchenettes are a marvel in how to get everything inside a cupboard, but they are small, and you may find eating in for every meal becomes arduous.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Studio Apartments
  • 7
  • Self-catering (+ restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Plunge 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: Superior Room

Rooms

Pared-down industrial chic is a surprise in rural Puglia. Rooms are whitewashed, with grey poured concrete resin floors, and door and window frames accented by occasional rich colour. Various artworks (on rotation), such as Roberto Bianchi’s photos, adorn the walls, so the building also works as a living exhibition space. Furniture and fixtures succeed in being stylish, comfortable and practical; each studio has an antique sideboard or chest, too. Windows come in all sizes and shapes with curtains or shutters to keep out the morning glare. There's cool lighting, B&W photos taken by Caroline herself, and display spaces have been carved into walls.

The largest studio is the Deluxe Suite (sleeps 2-3), which has a dining room, a bedroom and a small rear terrace, with a hot tub, built into the craggy hillside. Similar in size, the very private Romantic Suite (also sleeping 2-3) on the top floor has an open-plan sleeping, dining and lounge area, plus a bathroom with a hydromassage tub. Outside is a large sun-trap terrace with a table, chairs and loungers, and a distant sea view; there's also an additional second terrace which features the apartment's kitchenette.

The Family Suite (sleeps 2-5) has 2 ensuite bedrooms - a double and a double or twin, one with an in-room colour therapy bath with underwater lighting. Next door is the Junior Suite, which has 2 rooms: a bedroom also with colour therapy tub and a small sitting room where the kitchenette is located.

The other 3 studios are all one-room, sized as Standard Rooms (sleeping 2) and Superior Rooms (sleeping 2-3).

Many have domed ceilings and individual touches ranging from tapestry-work cushions to Panton chairs; all have an outside sitting area, which varies in size. The good quality double (not kingsize) beds have fine-quality sheets and soft creamy wool blankets; one Standard Room can be set up as a twin. Snazzy bathrooms have power showers, Oliva toiletries and copious towels. Apart from the Junior and Family Suites, don't expect acres of space.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Each studio has a kitchenette for basic self-catering (most are hidden away in a cupboard!) with 2 hobs, a small fridge, a sink, a kettle, a coffee maker, cutlery, bespoke hand-made chunky crockery, glassware, a chopping board, mixing bowls, a wooden spoon, a colander, a tin opener, a sharp knife, and pots and pans. Basics such as dishsoap, tea towels, teabags, coffee, UHT milk, fette biscottate, jam and sugar sachets are supplied on arrival. Note that unless the previous occupant left condiments or seasoning behind, you'll have to buy such items.

This impoverished region of Italy cultivated the cucina povera style of cooking - it's fun to seek out farmhouses where you can buy cheap, fresh local produce to bring back to the masseria - there is a convenient farm shop just a 10-minute stroll from the property, which sells fresh fruit, veg, bread, olive oil etc. If you want something more substantial, staff can arrange for pizzas to be delivered from a nearby pizzeria. There isn't much room to eat in the smaller studios, though you could always dine outside on your terrace.

If you want to eat out you have a wide selection of eateries in local towns and villages as recommended by Caroline as part of her My Puglia scheme. You may need to book ahead in season. You can also head into the closest town, Fasano (1km away), where you'll find a selection of cafés, trattorias and bars, as well as a supermarket.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Meal delivery service
  • Some basics supplied
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax on your terrace and amble around the tranquil olive grove-shaded grounds
  • Go to the beach, a few minutes’ drive away; reservations at several upmarket beach clubs can be arranged in season
  • Masseria Alchimia can also arrange cycling, horse riding and golf (the nearest golf course is 2km away), as well as private yoga sessions on your terrace
  • Meander the narrow cobbled streets of beautiful white-stone Ostuni, graceful Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Cisternino, and hang out in their bars and restaurants
  • Visit the trulli capital, the Unesco World Heritage site of Alberobello, a seeming Smurf town of quaint cone-topped buildings
  • Go wine tasting in and around Locorotondo and other towns
  • Explore the extensive, knee-high ruins of the Roman town, Egnazia, which include the still-cobbled Via Traiana that once linked Benevento to Brindisi
  • Relax on your terrace and walk around the olive grove-shaded grounds; the views are long, the ambiance tranquil

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome, Caroline is a mother herself and is very accommodating to families and children. That said, the property is family-friendly rather than family-focused. There's lots for families to do in the area, note that the property does not have a swimming pool.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Even the Standard Rooms can take a baby (and one can have an extra bed too), while all the others can add an extra bed. The 2-bedroom Family Suite can sleep up to 4 people plus a baby; kids will love (as ours did) bathing in its colour therapy bath with its underwater lighting. The Junior Suite and Deluxe Suites are also good family options. If bringing a larger family/teens, then you may want to book the adjacent Junior and Family Suites together, or take the adjoining Standard Rooms, as one can be configured as a twin.

Babysitting:

Available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Baby bath
  • Changing mat
  • Plastic crockery and cutlery
  • Beach toys

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

Children's meals:

Families will appreciate being able to self-cater, plus there are heaps of eateries a short drive away. Pizza can be delivered. Caroline recommends Parco di Castro, which has an inside courtyard, as being a good family-friendly restaurant nearby.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Each studio has its own private terrace
  • Small playground with a swing and a slide
  • Box of toys and games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Zoo Safari in Fasano – animal park plus fun fair – Caroline has negotiated a special rate of EUR15pp (rather than EUR22) for those over 4 (tickets sold at reception)
  • Beaches and beach clubs in season (Caroline's My Puglia card has a deal with a couple of good ones and they provide beach towels)
  • Acqua park
  • Take a day trip to see the cute trulli cones of Alberobello
  • Caves to explore such as Grotta di Castellana
  • Gravina Sotteranea (underground city)
  • Horse riding
  • Botanical gardens in Monopoli
  • Various theme parks: Adventurepark, Funpark, Naturpark
  • Archaeological sites

Families Should Know:

There's no pool, and some of the terraces/gardens are not that large. There's a river ravine behind the property so keep an eye on toddlers, though there is a wall/fence along its length

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour (Bari)
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
10/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Masseria Alchimia