A farmhouse turned luxury vacation rental, Masseria Petrarolo in Puglia combines rustic warmth with elegance. Nine bedrooms in the villa and pool house are set in olive and citrus groves.
You feel like in the countryside but are just 200 metres from the centre of town.
Palazzo Muro Leccese
This property offers easy COVID-19 cancellation terms:
In case of official travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, guests can cancel free of charge up to 3 days before arrival.
How would you describe Palazzo Muro Leccese in a nutshell?
Palazzo Muro Leccese is a historic house surrounded by traditional walls and a peaceful garden near the centre of Muro Leccese.
What is the story behind Palazzo Muro Leccese, what was your inspiration to create it?
We had already bought a villa in Muro Leccese and, over time, we were purchasing additional pieces of the garden. That’s how it happens in Salento — it’s hard to buy land as it may be owned by 20 different people. So we just kept buying the land with the idea that eventually, it would be like a small village. There is still an elderly lady who lives in one apartment that we bought but we won’t ask her to move out.
Palazzo Muro Leccese is simpler than the villa and not quite as luxurious. The structure was already there, we just changed the interior by creating two rooms downstairs and adding interior bathrooms. Originally, the property had an outdoor bathroom but it’s not ideal for winter. It was harder to make any changes on the upper floor, which has big stone-walled rooms and two bathrooms.
How would you describe the atmosphere and interior design of Palazzo Muro Leccese?
In old palazzi, we love mixing the old and new but most important is finding a house with a good blend of architecture, light and nature. At Palazzo Muro Leccese, we retained the original bedrooms and centuries-old entrance but added a modern kitchen and living space. On the upper level, we created the pool, which offers views across Muro Lecesse’s rooftops.
The interior has been designed so that everything is easy. For example, the kitchen is very well-equipped with a big fridge, lots of food preparation space and an ice machine, so it’s a pleasure to cook there. We also created many corners where you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the town and listen to the church bells ringing. Guests like that feeling of taking a step back in time.
There is also lots of art throughout the palazzo (my husband likes to buy art) and all of the decor and furnishings have been positioned with care and attention to detail.
To you personally, what is so special about Palazzo Muro Leccese?
You feel like you are in the countryside but you are actually just 200 metres from the centre of town. You can easily step out and go to the beautiful square where there’s an alfresco cafe, then you can go back to the privacy of the garden and pool. I’ve found that once people arrive, they mostly stay at the property and enjoy a really relaxing vacation there. It’s also special because it is like you are in two homes — one family can stay in one and another in the second — and you can have parties every night in different spaces. We’ve also done long-table dinners in the garden and it feels like you are in the countryside.
Muro Lecesse is also very friendly. One of our guests ended up having a cooking class to make orecchiette with the owner of the grocery store!
Palazzo Muro Leccese is entered through a big wooden door that dates from 500 AD and this leads into the garden, which feels like somewhat of a surprise. A long pathway leads past grapevines to the swimming pool and is surrounded by historic walls that are typical of Salento.
On the right-hand side of the entrance is a big kitchen and a living room, both of which have large windows that you can open so you feel like you are outside. There are two bedrooms on the lower level that we renovated with nice floors and these have typical Puglia ceilings with arches. They feature designer lamps and contemporary furnishings and have access to a bathroom with views of the garden.
A narrow staircase leads up to the terrace and you enter into a new world, with three rooms (all with high ceilings) overlooking the town’s small square and churches. Two of the bedrooms share one small bathroom and the other room has its own bathroom, although it’s not accessible from within the room itself. We also have warm outdoor showers both upstairs and downstairs.
I send a welcome kit with lots of information to guests before their arrival and I am available online to make reservations at restaurants or book tours. We can organise everything from massage therapists to yoga teachers to come to the palazzo, as well as a cook to prepare meals in the evenings.
A gardener comes every day to take care of the outside, remove rubbish and clean the pool and we have two cleaning ladies who work in the summer. It’s possible to have the cleaning done throughout the stay (but this costs extra) and have someone do grocery shopping for you before you arrive.
Aside from the swimming pool, which is 15 x 2.5 metres and 1,60 meters deep. There is also fast Wi-Fi throughout the property and desks where guests can work. The property is very well heated for winter and this is a nice time to visit.
Definitely Lecce and Gallipoli are cities you have to visit, together with Otranto, which is famous for its cathedral. Galatina also has an incredible church and there are lots of historic lighthouses along the coast of Salento that are worth seeing. It’s beautiful driving to the point of Salento, with pure nature all around and two different coastlines to discover.
In 15 minutes you can get to the closest beaches, with both pebbly and sandy beaches (although the latter are crowded in the summer months). There are also some rocky areas where you can jump directly into the water and beaches with umbrellas available for rent — something for everyone.
Palazzo Muro Leccese is located 200 metres from the centre of Muro Lecesse, which is around 30 minutes’ drive south of Lecce. Salento Airport is an hour away and the closest beach is 15 minutes drive. Within walking distance of the property are grocery stores, a wine shop and a bakery, as well as a cafeteria and an upmarket seafood restaurant. The largest supermarket is 10 minutes walk, so it might be best to go by car if you are doing a big shop.
The region is absolutely wonderful. Every town in Salento is different and has a unique characteristic — perhaps it’s the wine or the food. In the summer, there are festivals with live music in all of the villages and just so much to do. While the beaches are crowded, the villages are peaceful in the summer, with most people sleeping from 1 to 5 pm. I love that Puglia isn’t too touristy yet and still feels authentic.
In my opinion, June and September are the best times to visit, although October can also be great as the sea is still warm and you can go wherever you want without having to make reservations. Winter can be cool and humid but it’s nice over Christmas because of the festive lights.
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