Stay in a Trullo in Puglia | Trulli La Pietraia

Aug 16, 2016

Stay in a Trullo in Puglia, Trulli La Peitraia 
Puglia is an incredible part of Italy, that I have only just discovered. After many trips to the amazing villages surrounding Tuscany and Rome, this year we decided to visit a few Italian regions that we haven’t been before like Bologna, Marina del Cantone and Puglia. Puglia just kept popping up on travel shows and in magazines and I thought it would be wonderful family experience to stay in a traditional Italian Trullo. So if you are planning a Italian holiday and looking for a truly unique and wonderful experience in Puglia then I would like to share a little secret with you - TrulliLa Pietraia

Trulli La Pietraia is situated in the beautiful countryside between Ostuni and Ceglie Messapica and is just 2km from the centre of Ostuni, the La Citta Bianca (the “White City”) famous for its enchanting narrow streets whitened with the lime-washed walls. 

Delightful owner Carola Altamura is an architect from Milan with a deep passion for Puglia with close links since childhood. “I think back fondly of happy summers spent in Puglia at my grandparents’ home, of its brilliant sun and sea, the chattering of the cicadas and the calm and awe-imposing countryside around it”. Carola has lovingly restored the family property ready to welcome family and friends for a dream holiday in Italy.

“I believe that all places have a soul that guides you in the choices and decisions, and that’s how the project Trulli La Pietraia has taken shape; with carefully thought-out additions and attention to preserving its charm – careful always to keep faith with the solidity and charming proportions that typify the special peace and serenity which are Puglia’s natural bequest to every visitor” says owner Carola Altamura

Carola has chosen décor and fabrics to reflect the typical hues of the earth and stone of the surrounding Puglia countryside. Trulli La Pietraia takes its name from the limestone of Ostuni, with the characteristic rosy white colour in which the trulli were built a century ago, originally as homes for agricultural workers who cultivated the vines that flourished in the hills around but now given a new life in all their beauty as memorable country home.

Trulli La Pietraia comprises of three traditional cones and an ancient lamia dating back to the beginning of the last century, restored with elegant fashion and luxury fittings. With three delightful double bedrooms, two of which are built of the typical local stone and all of which have en suite bathrooms and separate access to the garden; a pleasant and welcoming living area situated in the ancient lamia, with a stone hearth and a magnificent view over the swimming-pool and surrounding countryside; a kitchen equipped with every facility; a terrace and an external bathroom for the use of guests. Every detail has been given careful attention in a simple but refined way so as to keep alive the authentic spirit of the place and ensure a unique experience of privacy and relaxing elegance.

Here you can sit beneath a century-old olive-tree is an area for al fresco dining after a dip in the pool or perhaps dine by candle-light enjoying the pervading aromas of the surrounding countryside. Or enjoy a local wine from the panoramic rooftop terrace overlooking the olive plantations and enjoy the magnificent sunsets and magical starlit evenings. The light here is like no other. The colours are magical. It is so peaceful and quiet and you can literally spend the entire days here relaxing in between visits to the amazing villages and sites of the region.

EAT: Homemade Pasta Alfresco under the olive tree served with local Locortondo wine. Ice Cream up at the citadel in Ostuni – there is also a wonderful Sunday antique market in Ostuni. Carola can provide you with a list of amazing restaurants and cafes to visit during your stay.

STAY: Trulli La Pietraia suggest you stay for at least 4 days, if you can do a week even better. This is a great base to visit the surrounding countryside and about 30 minutes to the beach. You could combine this with an additional stay in the seaside towns of Polignano a Mare or Lecce so you can enjoy the country and the coast as well. We simply didn’t have enough time to see it all.  
Be sure to have a car, you will need it to get to and from the villages for your supplies as it is too far to walk. Suggest stocking up at the local supermarket on your way, or Carola can organize groceries to be delivered for you.

LOVE: Sunset swimming. Walking around the old Trulli on the property at Sunset. The light is magnificent. We loved driving through the Itria Valley via historic villages of Cisternino and Locortondo.

Thank you so much to Carola, and to Ada for her help on arrival and departure. This was a truly beautiful experience for our family. We do hope to return one day and spend more time in this stunning and unique part of Italy.

For bookings go to

Photos by Natalie Hayllar for Eat Read Love

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STAY in a French Chateau | Chateau les Merles |

Jul 17, 2016

Stay in a French Chateau - Château les Merles, Dordogne France
Have you ever dreamed of staying in a French château? This has long been on my bucket list and finally a few weeks ago my dream came true. Staying at this Château les Merles was definitely a one of many 'pinch me moments' from our recent trip to France - when I realised that what I had been imagining for months was actually right in in front of me. I felt a little like Rapunzel, sitting in our bedroom peeping out of the little loft window down to the pool and across the beautiful Dordogne countryside.  

Chateau les Merles is a beautiful 17th century château in Tuilières near Mouleydier and Bergerac, in the Dordogne region of France.  Just a short drive from Bordeaux, Château les Merles is the perfect place to explore this delightful region of France. Here you can soak up the surrounding French wine country, sample the local culinary delights, explore quaint French villages, or just simply relax with a book by the pool. The interiors are equally as stunning as the properties exterior, with polished black timber floors and woodwork, crisp white walls and contemporary lounges, with luxurious chandeliers, white orchids and ornate gold mirrors decorating the two beautiful parlour rooms. I fell in love with the pink chairs in the reading room.  

The staff at Château les Merles are incredibly warm and friendly and will have you relaxing with a local wine from the Chateau’s own vineyard within minutes of entering the fabulous dining room.  The Bistrot in the central courtyard is the perfect place for a post-golf Aperitif, while the La Bruyere Blanche is a place where couples can enjoy a romantic dinner, families come together for a special meal, locals meet for a jovial dinner and children are made to feel very welcome. The innovative menu serves excellent New Périgordine cuisine with a strong focus on seasonal local produce, real flavours and rustic heart warming dishes to feed the soul. All of the wines are sourced from the local Bergerac region too. While my husband and I enjoyed our soufflé out on the terrace, the kids loved to run free around the gardens. 

The owners were always close by to say a friendly hello, and the staff had some wonderful suggestions for day trips to the nearby Issigeac market and Château Bridoire. They were very patient with my poor attempts at speaking French too. It is all of those little things that make for a happy and relaxed stay and we loved every minute of it. Dining here every evening was something I will never forget.

All of the guest rooms and family villas have been recently renovated with contemporary style, while still maintaining the 17th century charm. The spacious villas are a wonderful option for families or group of friends travelling together each with their own kitchen, living room and terrace overlooking the swimming pool.

The property has a 9-hole golf course and golf driving range, two swimming pools, and the location makes it the perfect base to explore some of the regions finest vineyards, château and markets. You can also get married here, and let me tell you this would be the most incredible wedding location. And of course the pool is where it's at if you have little ones. The boys went crazy when they saw the diving board, and not even the rain could stop them from swimming. 

All Photos by Natalie Hayllar, Eat Read Love

If you have ever dreamed of staying in French château, then you must include a stay at Château les Merles in your next holiday itinerary. I recommend a minimum of three nights here to really relax and enjoy the surrounds, and of course to try everything on the menu. I won't forget our last morning before driving to Bordeaux - the château was covered in a soft white fog, and I secretly hoped that this wouldn’t be the last time we would drive down the beautiful tree lined driveway. Until next time Château les Merles, you were pure magic.

EAT: you must try the Poulet fermier du Périgord en croûte de sel, crème de morilles, fèves et mousseline de pommes de terre. And who could say no to a crème brulee or soufflé when in France? You just cant, and shouldn’t. Ever. 

READ: The Lavender Keeper by Fiona McIntosh provided the perfect poolside reading! And of course Marie Claire Maison is great for some drool worthy French interiors.     

LOVE: the view from my bedroom window seat as the dusk turned into night. We absolutely loved the local weekend market at Issigeac too. 

PLAY: Our two boys were in heaven at the nearby Chateau de Bridoire – a 12th century castle once abandoned and lovingly restored by the Guyot family. Kids can tour the castle and grounds, play medieval games, watch the horses training and plenty of outdoor games and space to run around. Fantastic place. 

When you stay in a Smith Hotel you know it is going to be special. After all they have done all of the hard work for you and only choose the best of the bunch, those hotels that just have that extra something special that is hard to define. Whether it be a feeling you get when you arrive, a special little feature in your room, amazing interiors, a truly unique local menu or just the wow factor.  Mr & Mrs Smith have some great packages when you book a room or villa package at Château les Merles with extras like picnic hampers, Champagne and spa treatments to choose from. For bookings go to Mr & Mrs Smith

*I was a guest of Château les Merles

All Photos by Natalie Hayllar, Eat Read Love

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