Staying Small
Puglia and Basilicata—the coastal heel and mountainous instep of the Italian boot—charm visitors with picturesque boutique hotels and spas.

While Italy is hardly new territory for the well-versed traveler, there remain lesser-known regions rich with art and architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, wellness services, and fresh interpretations of regional cuisine. Rome-based Access Italy (, a family-owned and -operated tour company, has been running highly curated bespoke tours throughout Italy for 40 years and recommends these four stays off the beaten track.


Masseria Torre Maizza

Nestled among ancient olive groves along Italy’s Adriatic Coast, this 16th-century farmhouse has been transformed into a Pugliese sanctuary. The property opened as a Rocco Forte Hotel in May 2019 with 40 rooms spread among rows of whitewashed buildings. Many rooms have private plunge pools and charming sea views that are accented by local ceramics and colorful bougainvillea. Find the spa within a complex of trulli—the charming white, conical-roofed brick buildings unique to Puglia. Guests can book à la carte treatments featuring the organic Irene Forte Skincare line from Sicily as well as comprehensive wellness programs for multifaceted healing. Tailored nutrition programs include meals made with locally sourced ingredients. To stay active, guests take wilderness fitness hikes, practice yoga, and play golf on the nine-hole course.

Ostuni Art Resort

For travelers romanticizing about what it’s like to wake in a historic trullo, there is no chicer option than here. The exclusive-use property features five authentic trulli, restored by a Roman architect and a real estate developer, brothers Giorgio and Giulio Angella, that together house up to 16 guests. Some are connected to the modern main house, a setup that provides plenty of room for parties to spread out indoors and out. The lush grounds are planted with olive groves, almond trees, and flowering grasslands. Find aromatic plants surrounding the pool and a fragrant herb and vegetable garden that the chef harvests for making pizzas in the outdoor oven. Through the property, enjoy an impressive display of contemporary art. The Angella brothers collect works by young, aspiring artists from Italy and abroad.


Sant’Angelo Luxury Resort

While a trulli stay seems quite romantic, sleeping in a cave sounds less so. However, when traveling in Basilicata, keep an open mind. Matera is in the southern part of Basilicata and home to the Sassi di Matera district, believed to have been continuously occupied since Paleolithic times. The area’s homes and churches are uniquely dug into calcarenitic rock, but by the 1950s the structures had fallen into disrepair. A government-led relocation program was followed up by a more recent revitalization effort of what’s now one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations in Italy. Designated the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Sassi di Matera is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the stone buildings is the 16-room Sant’Angelo Luxury Resort, located a few steps away from Piazza San Pietro Caveoso in the heart of the old city. Rooms and suites evoke both the history of Matera and ensure the comforts of a modern hotel.

Palazzo Margherita

A 45-minute drive from Matera is the hilltop town of Bernalda, where you may find yourself driving down a charming, tree-lined street wondering if you have wandered onto a film set. The director’s notes would read, “Scene: a perfectly lit 19th-century Italian palazzo,” and the director’s name would be Francis Ford Coppola. In 2004 the filmmaker restored a local palace once used by officials in Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. Palazzo Margherita was built in 1892 and purchased by Coppola in honor of the birthplace of his grandfather. He operates it as a chic boutique hotel that has become a gathering place for the Coppola family (daughter and director Sofia Coppola was married in the garden). The salon transforms into a cinema and features a vast collection of movies, including Coppola’s curated collection of Italian classics. There’s also a pool, courtyards, gardens, and gorgeous bedrooms designed in honor of several Coppola family members. The real star of the show is the food, a contemporary take on regional Basilicata specialties. Guests choose among several dining experiences, from a casual, cinema-themed cafe on the public piazza to a private dinner among the gardens. —Anjali Kumar