Nestled in the heel of Italy’s boot, the Puglia region is synonymous with turquoise blue seas, sprawling olive groves and baroque architecture. RUSSH contributing fashion editor and Matteau Swim co-founder Ilona Hamer takes us there, on a sweet trip full of languid days in the Mediterranean sunshine.
Cisternino: it’s like the Byron Bay of Puglia and the drive through the hills from Ostuni is filled with trullo homes and gorgeous olive groves.
Tricase & Tricase Porto: Absolutely my favorite little region. Very tiny, but the most gorgeous spot to swim, eat and drink and really feel like a local.
Ostuni: Worth wandering the tiny narrow streets and eating the best orecchiette you will find.
Santa Maria di Leuca: The most southern point of the heel. There are really incredible huge old villas right on the water here and it’s great to be able to have the Adriatic on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. To get around, you can’t go past a cute little Fiat 500 for the trip. We had a great little black one that took us all along the coast of Puglia, neat and so easy to park and zoom around in.
Masseria Moroseta, Ostuni. It is really the most incredible hotel I have ever had the privilege of staying at. Carlos, the owner, is so considered and his taste is impeccable in all aspects – architecture, linens, glassware, books, meals. The entire package is about as perfectly curated as you could ever hope for.
I lived everyday in my Matteau bathing suits and had my Totême Belize dress and beach towel on high rotation. For beach days it was a lot of men’s cotton shirts from H&M with Levi’s shorts, and in the evenings Equipment silk shirts with my long-line silk skirts. I only bought two pairs of sandals with me: my K Jacques, which I wore every day and an old favourite pair by Bottega Veneta. I also got the most beautiful pair of gold hoops, which are larger than my everyday pair, that I didn’t take off the whole time. These, by All Blues, are just perfect.
The best part of being on vacation is giving your skin a break from the city and enjoying the salt water and vitamin D! I used a lot of my favorite F. Miller face and body oil and my Dennis Gross serum in the evenings. A slick of Glossier Generation G in the evening with an eyelash curl if I was feeling adventurous. We also just received our Maison Balzac X Matteau LA PLAGE candle so I took the travel size with me to burn in our hotel to make it feel a little more personal. My beach read was the The Girls, by Emma Cline and I listened to Radiolab podcasts and Kraftwerk’s Computer Love.
In Tricase town, eat at Farmacia Balboa, the best little wine and cocktail bar we found in all of Puglia and Salento – New York trendy but classic Italian, run by Mr Balboa himself. Also: Locanda del Levante – the interior and colours of this spot were almost heartbreakingly good. In Tricase Porto, eat at Taverna del Porto, with the best polpo (octopus) I have ever had. Delicious seafood straight from the sea you look out on to. In Ostuni, it’s to look past Masseria Moroseta, where Carlos hosts a dinner every other night and all the dishes are typical local plates, olive oil from their grove is always incorporated and the meal is finished with their own batch of Limoncello. When it came to drinking, the most wonderful find was pre-mixed Campari and soda for €1 each! We would always have an orange and a cup of ice on hand to make afternoon cocktails while we read our books by the sea or on our boat. Negroamaro is the grape of the region and the most delicious red wine you can imagine. They serve it cool but not chilled and with a fresh pizza it’s just about perfect.
The best swimming spots …
The pool at Masseria Moroseta: we spent the first four days of our trip by the pool here reading and unwinding, and with the view of the olive grove you really can’t go wrong.
Grotta del Ciolo: cliff diving into the Adriatic with a gorgeous bridge connecting the two headlands. The little bar at the entrance sells Campari and soda for €2 and in the mornings we would eat incredible croissants made with olive oil and two cappuccinos for just €5.
Bagno Marina Archi: we spent a lot of time here (the spot with the red umbrellas) for €12 a person you get an umbrella, lounge chair and the access to the most wonderful place to swim.
Tricase Porto: it reminded me a lot of Clovelly with its concrete walls, and the water can only be described as gin blue – really so beautiful.