Puglia, located in southeastern Italy (aka the heel of the boot), has been exalted as the last undiscovered gem in Italy. (It also happens to be the region of my Azzarito ancestors). Nestled between two blue seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian, filled with Baroque cities and hilltop villages, the leisurely pace of Pugliese life is certain to relax even the most committed Type A personalities. The region is filled with olive groves, dotted by masserias, ancient fortified farmhouses found only in Puglia. During the last twenty years, as Puglia has become a favorite of in-the-know travelers looking for an Italian summer refuges, those masserias dotting the countryside have been slowly transformed into luxury accommodations. This hotel, Masseria Moroseta, may be a new structure, but the building takes its design cues from those ancient traditions.
After finding land, Carlo Lanzini approached his old friend, Barcelona- based designer and magazine editor (founder of Openhouse Magazine , Andrew Trotter, for an architect recommendation. Never one to turn down a good design opportunity, Andrew volunteered himself. For the next three years, he worked closely with Carlo to realize a vision for a Puglian retreat that combines a minimalist aesthetic with the spirit of those ancient farmhouses. And while this may have been Andrew’s first architectural project, it opened to such critical acclaim, that it’s unlikely to be his last.
Carlo’s modernist vision of a masseria became a reality in 2016. The building was conceived and built using traditional materials and techniques. Not only does this ensure that it fits into the visual landscape of Puglia, but it also takes advantage of centuries-old environmentally friendly practices. The whitewash exteriors, vaulted ceilings and walls built 2.5 feet of sandstone tufo (a soft rock used in local construction since the Romans), are aesthetically pleasing and organically fit into the local design vernacular, but they also keep the Masseria cool even when temperatures soar. When the Puglian sun makes air conditioning unavoidable, solar panels are used to channel those rays into electricity. There’s enough sun (300 day/per year in Puglia) that the building runs virtually off-the-grid.
Masseria Moroseta, with its views of the Adriatic Sea, is only a ten-minute drive from the white hillside town of Ostuni. The property is set in the midst of 12 acres of olive groves, with 500-year-old trees, that are now producing olive oil for the property. The hotel’s six rooms are nestled around a central courtyard. Each has a slightly different design feature – room number 6 has monochrome tiling behind the bed, while number 3 has an antique iron bedhead and a plaster monkey lamp hanging from the ceiling. Rustic bathrooms feature battered copper fixtures, heavy marble sinks (which were sourced from an old laundry) and exposed pipework.
In the short time it has been open, the Masseria Moroseta, has become one of the most beautiful places to escape in one of the most unspoiled regions of Italy. But hurry. Unspoiled, beautiful escapes in Italy don’t tend to stay secret for long.