Call us +44(0)1223 460100 · Email us

Essential Blog all the latest...

Yearly Archives: 2011

Propery hunting in Puglia


Sarah writes: Last week Helen and I made our end of season trip to Puglia. We were a little later than usual but still had a great time driving around the Pugliese countryside. Our first night was spent north of Bari at the lovely Lama di Luna, an oasis of peace and quiet. Our host and owner Pietro (along with his beautiful red setter Uma) joined us for breakfast, before showing us his eco-friendly heating system reliant on ground olive stones. In a land completely full of age old olive trees, we imagine he’s on to a good thing.

On leaving Lama di Luna we called in to Cefalicchia Country House. What a find. Beautifully restored and perfectly run, we can strongly recommend a stay here and suggest that you look out for it as it will be on our website very soon. Many other properties were viewed though our standards had perhaps been set high with such a great start to the day in Cefalicchia.

We then drove to the Valle d’Itria just south of Bari – home of the trulli – the typical coned-roof dwellings. A light lunch in Alberobello (a UNESCO site due to the amount of trulli found here) set us up for the afternoon with more exploring. We then headed to the tried and trusted hotel, Borgo San Marco. We never go to Puglia without a stopover here. Due to the evenings getting dark by 5pm we opted for an early aperitivo and a sumptuous dinner cooked by the lovely Teresa, all enjoyed with the charming owner, Dottore Alessandro Amati. The next day took kept us in the same area and we revisited some already well known properties including Trulllo Lontano, Casa Cicereali, Casa Calandra and some very interesting new properties soon to be revealed. A good days work.


Another Borgo San Marco dinner set us up for another long day to the south of the region near Otranto. We managed to get too hot having coffee in a bar on the seafront before visiting a great family beachside hotel just north of the town. Watch this space. With more stops on the way back north, our day concluded with a lovely dinner in the little town of Carovigno. Già sotto l’Arco, the supposedly best restaurant in Puglia was sadly closed, but we took our chances at another local restaurant which turned out just fine. Before leaving Borgo San Marco on Friday morning we had a fascinating tour to see the beautiful frescoes that have been recently uncovered and restored in the hotels very own grotto. A truly magical experience and one not to miss. Time to go home and back to our respective desks. Not sure about Helen, but I could have stayed much longer.

Sweet Sicily


Helen writes: Sarah and I have just returned from a week in Sicily. The temperature didn’t drop below 25°C during the day, and even the evenings were exceptionally warm.

We spent two nights at the beautiful Borgo Petra in Mascalucia where the owners Cristina and Toto, fed us a fabulous feast each morning of fresh bread, cheese, fruit (including fresh cachi and prickly pears) and cakes. The highlight for me were the cakes – particularly the honey and hazelnut cake – truly delicious. Here’s Cristina’s recipe so we can all get baking…

Small cakes with honey and hazelnuts

  • 80 grams butter
  • 40 grams white flour
  • 45 grams ground hazelnuts
  • 65 grams sugar
  • 50 grams honey
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 6 small round moulds (8.5cm diameter)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter, sugar and the honey together (not over direct heat, but in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water). Cool and add the egg yolks. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and beat them until the mixture is firm. Add the flour and egg white tablespoon by tablespoon to the honey, sugar and butter mixture. Grease the moulds with butter and sprinkle with flour and pour the mix into the mould. Bake for 25 minutes – it’s ready when you can put the blade of a knife into the cake and it comes out clean. Bingo: Fantastic hazelnut cakes.