Villa Pizzorusso is a historic masseria which has been turned into a grand holiday villa set amidst olive groves in Puglia.
How would you describe Masseria Petrarolo in a nutshell?
Masseria Petrarolo is a fortified historic farmhouse turned luxury vacation rental on a 30-hectare estate and is now under the protection of the Italian Historical Buildings Department. It was originally built in the 1680s to protect the village families from attacks from the Saracens of North Africa.
We restored the house to a very contemporary standard to make it feel more luxurious which only adds to the grand feeling of the individual spaces in the villa.
What was your inspiration to buy a villa in Puglia and rent it out as a vacation home?
I had originally bought it as a family house, a long-term project that I could eventually retire in. I later decided to rent it out as a vacation home.
The inspiration for buying a house came when I was traveling through the Mediterranean on business and had the opportunity to become familiar with the area. As I sampled the food, the cooking, and the wine, it all just really clicked for me. I came back six months later, started to search for a house and found this one.
The previous owners hadn’t messed around with the fabric of the building, which was a real blessing because we were pretty much left with its original state. All of the ground floor space was originally built for animals and storage. We were able to utilize all of those rooms and turn them into residential living spaces.
Please tell us about the interior design of the villa.
We worked with a group of Italian architects who had experience with this type of building and space. Our personal friend and very talented young designer James Waterworth designed all of the furniture and lighting. With my guidance he was entirely responsible for the choice of materials and custom-made furniture, as well as the antiques. Masseria Petrarolo is a luxury vacation rental with a mix of contemporary furniture and antique pieces that sort of speak to the overall tune of the house.
To you personally, what is so special about staying at this particular vacation home?
I was lucky to spend a few months at Masseria Petrarolo last summer and found it to be a house with so many different places to enjoy. One of the greatest things about it is that many of the bedrooms have at least one element that makes them extraordinary. That could be an outdoor shower, a bath on the balcony overlooking the lemon grove, access to the hamam, dining on the rooftop, etc. In the four months of staying on vacation here I’d never gotten the sense that I’d done something too many times or that I’d been there before. There’s so much variety, it’s really a joy to be there.
What do you particularly like about this part of Italy?
Puglia’s charm is several-fold. Puglia is a fascinating area in terms of the different influences such as Norman, Greek, and also Albanian.
It faces south and is a very Mediterranean part of Italy. Puglia itself is very well run, especially compared to other parts of southern Italy, so it’s a prosperous and busy place, and growing faster than many other regions of Italy. There’s a real sense of life and vitality to this area. Restaurants are even open off-season.
From a visitor’s point of view, the historical aspect and style of the architecture combined with very good wines and a really strong type of distinctive cooking that fits well with contemporary palates makes it very appealing. Puglia is becoming discovered but not too much so that the towns still cater to Italians.