Along Puglia’s Adriatic coast between Bari and Brindisi, surprises await at the end of narrow driveways and marshy turnings. Unseen by passing drivers, boutique hotels dot the coastline and you have to be in the know to find the really good ones.
One hidden gem is l’Hotel Canne Bianche, a five-star, family-owned property, which is one of the few hotels actually on the beach. We loved the refined white-washed building set among olive trees and palms — on a summer day, the cool of the thick walls and shaded porticos beckoned us out of the heat.
Canne Bianche, here and below, is a 55-room hideaway near Torre Canne.
Built by family patriarch Antonio Mangano less than a decade ago, the Canne Bianche is a 55-room hideaway near Torre Canne and listed with Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Gianvito Mangano, Antonio’s son, is GM and both men can be seen on site to greet guests.
Though the public spaces inside are airy and comfortable, we spent most of our time outdoors, dining under pergolas overlooking the pool and sea. For seafood lovers, Chef Francesco Bello’s menu is full of the freshest fish and shellfish, paired with local crisp white wines. (There are also plenty of selections and wine pairings for non-seafood eaters). The T-IMO and casual A-NETO restaurants are open to non-guests for lunch or dinner with reservations (call 011-390-804-829-839 well in advance).
The layouts and locations of rooms and suites offer a variety of choices. Pugliese décor accents abound, especially ceramic pumi, the flower bud-shaped symbols of good luck in these parts. The famous Pugliese stone is known for its texture and warm glow. The 430-square-foot ground-floor Master Suite 119 is tucked away, with its own stone-walled garden and plunge pool. There is a separate living room with sofa bed, Jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower, and king bedroom. Suite 109 has a similar layout.
On the second floor, Executive Suite 253 as well as the similar 234, offer a full pool and sea view from a large terrace, king-sized bedroom, separate living room, walk-in marble shower and a decorative (non-functional) fireplace. The suites are 375 to 410 square feet. There are elevators to upstairs rooms.
Pugliese décor accents abound at Canne Bianche. Shown here is the lobby.
Many other rooms, particularly those on the second floor, offer side sea views and plenty of space. Small pets are welcome at l’Hotel Canne Bianche. Plus, there is a spot to charge your electric vehicle.
This is a venue that could work well for a small destination event or family trip anytime between Easter and the end of October, when the hotel closes for the winter. Discuss the possibilities with Maria Adele or Elesana at [email protected] They can also assist in organizing a driver from the airport at Bari or for excursions through the region.
A terrace on one of the suites at Canne Bianche.
In addition to the ample public spaces and sea views, there is a small spa in the lower level with treatment rooms, water therapy and fitness center. Go to the main website and click on Regeneration for details and prices.
Cooking lessons are available, as well as bike tours of the Parco delle Dune Costiere, the national beach reserve nearby. The hotel is near the town of Polignano a Mare, where hotel Guest Relations can arrange a private boat trip along the coast, with lunch served onboard.
The layouts and locations of rooms and suites offer a variety of choices.
For an inland experience near Canne Bianche, there is the Masseria Narducci (A masseria is an old farmhouse or building, which can be beautiful when restored).
The Masseria Narducci is a working farm surrounded by Puglia’s ages-old olive trees. A favorite spot for destination weddings for English, Europeans and Americans, it’s close enough to divide wedding events between the coastal beauty of the Canne Bianche hotel and the rustic charm of this restored masseria.
A series of stone-walled gardens leading to the pool adds a taste of romance. Dining is available for lunch and dinner, and olive tastings are offered by appointment. There are nine rooms, charming and fresh, though not luxe. The largest, a double with pool view, is 325 square feet with queen bed.
Some suites at Canne Bianche are even equipped with a Jacuzzi.
These properties are a short drive from the airport in Bari. Once out of the big towns, driving in Puglia is quite easy. Inland, the country lanes pass olive orchards hundreds of years old, defined by hand laid mortarless stone walls, displaying the real essence of Puglia.
Old towns like Monopoli and Polignano a Mare on the coast offer shops, restaurants and narrow streets to wander, as well as lots of tourists during high season. Nearby towns in the interior, such as Ostuni, Alberobello and Martina Franca, can be reached easily for day trips.
Masseria Narducci, here and below, is a working farm surrounded by Puglia’s centuries-old olive trees. The old barns and some stables of the masseria now house nine rooms.
Nicola, who works the front desk at l’Hotel Canne Bianche has two suggestions for ristoranti in the area which serve traditional local food. One of our favorite meals is a vegetarian dish beloved by all: orecchiette pasta (little ears) made with gran arso (toasted) flour and served with cime di rapa, aka flavorful turnip greens.
Nicola recommends Il Cortiletto, which is about seven minutes away from the hotel in Toscolano Maderno. Chef Riccardo Danesi’s menu includes fresh caught seafood, along with local meats and seasonal traditional Pugliese dishes. The restaurant is listed in the Michelin Guide.
Nicola also suggests Anticalama ([email protected]), located in nearby Torre Spaccata. The setting is beautiful and the menu of traditional food is to be savored.
Heads Up: Polignano a Mare is known for its beautiful restaurants in caves overlooking the sea. Some of these restaurants have magnificent views and often less magnificent and very expensive menus. Sometimes payment must be made in advance at the time of the reservation.
Instead, when we asked at Canne Bianche where to eat in Polignano a Mare, they suggested Il Bastione at Covo dei Saraceni, a small hotel overlooking the Adriatic. The restaurant is not in a cave, but has spectacular sea views.
The Pool at Masseria Narducci
Whether you call it Apulia, which is the Latin, or Puglia, which is Italian, this region in the heel of the boot is a different Italy from Tuscan landscapes or Venetian canals. There are the Adriatic beaches on one side and the Ionian Sea beaches on the other, white-painted towns on the coast, and in the hills, the most ancient sculpted olive trees in the whole of Italy, and a distinctive fresh cuisine coupled with excellent wines. Now is the time to go.