Borgo Egnazia, or ‘village Egnazia’, is quite literally that: an Apulian-inspired network of little streets and piazzas that lead to villas, restaurants, swimming pools, spas, gardens and golf courses. It’s a self-contained bubble of luxury, beautifully designed around the colours white and cream, that’s built entirely from tactile tuff stone. Despite its size, the entire complex exudes a zen-like atmosphere that we found very difficult to leave.
Food is a priority, with six restaurants on site that honour Puglian cuisine – timeless, simple, thrifty food. From grilled octopus at the sophisticated Due Camini, where vaulted white ceilings twinkle with illuminated glass bottles, to a relaxed buffet at La Fresca, rustic orecchiette or pizza at Mia Cucina and fresh seafood at beachside restaurant Pescheria da Vito, it’s easy to stay within the Borgo walls all week. Not a bad idea, given the unfaltering quality of food and somewhat uninspiring immediate surroundings of the resort. Although if you’ve got a car, it’s worth visiting the charming whitewashed town of Ostuni half an hour away.
Try a café leccese on your arrival, an ice-cold Puglian pick-me-up made from local almond milk and espresso. The bar, just behind Due Camini, is romantically lit with log fires and lanterns, and staff are faultless – detecting a sore throat, one barman invented a fiery, medicinal cocktail just for us.
There’s such stylish uniformity here – every space adheres to the same clean, tuff-stone scheme. Our bedroom looked as if it had been carved from a giant salt block and was speckled with touches of rural romance (there are baskets of almonds everywhere). Enjoy your own disco with the myriad lighting options, unwind in the so-big-we-could-live-there bathroom or relax on your private terrace. You can choose from four types of hotel room, five apartments or six villas – all luxurious, and all within easy reach of a swimming pool. Our room – a ‘splendida’ in the main building – was plenty big enough despite being a cheaper option.
Dine inside or out on freshly baked pastries, local hams and cheeses, piles of dried fruit, and excellent coffee. It’s a classy, bright white space – so take care not to spill anything.
In between all that relaxing, try one of Borgo Egnazia’s ‘Nowhere Else Academies’ – a five-day long masterclass in everything from photography to fishing. We opted for a cookery class, led by the wildly enthusiastic Domenico, and took lessons every morning at Mia Cucina restaurant. Whether we were cooking pizzas in wood-fired ovens, rolling orecchiette or peeling tiger prawns, the approach was hands-on and fun; and tasting-as-you-go is pretty much mandatory when Domenico’s in charge. Of course, you get to eat what you make afterwards – have what you can’t manage as room service later on in the day (the kitchens keeps any leftovers warm for you).
Written by Charlotte Morgan, October 2015