Minimalistic Beauty in Salento
Blissful days of idleness, lapping up the southern sun and lounging by a mysteriously mesmerizing black-bottomed pool. The air is rife with sweet citrus scents wafting in from the orange and lemon-packed orchards. A nineteenth century ivy clad stone palazzo beckons. Wander inside and you’re met with a spellbinding array of 19th century frescoes, original mosaic flooring and cutting-edge contemporary art. If this sounds like a dream, then make it a dream come true and at Palazzo Daniele, a recently opened Puglian paradise in sunny Solento.
Located at the very tip of Italy’s heel in the small village of Gaglino del Capo, where the Adriatic’s rocky shoreline meets Ionian’s sandy stretches of beach, Palazzo Daniele (built 1861) was the former home to five generations of the Petrucci family. Over a decade ago, the latest descendent and avid art collector, Francesco Petrucci, met a kindred spirit in luxury-hotelier Gabriele Salini. With the latter’s expertise in hospitality and their shared passion for art, architecture and design, the two friends’ subsequent venture together seemed written in fate. Calling upon the aide of Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, founders of the award-winning Milanese design studio, Palomba Serafini Associati, they set out to turn Francesco’s family home into a holiday haven.
In April 2019 Palazzo Daniele opened its doors to the world as the perfect equilibrium between present and past, where state-of-the-art minimalism meets neoclassical grandeur. Preserving the purity of its Palladian structure, the frescoes and flooring were finely restored, excess ornamentation was stripped away and a spectacular exhibition space now greets guests at the grand entrance, housing artworks by both ancient masters and present-day pioneers.
Petrucci and Salini’s carefully curated collection continues in the nine individually designed suites, fusing function with art and comfort with cool. With each suite overlooking the graceful courtyards or the square of the small town of Gagliano del Capo, expect Polomba beds, Nicolas Party stools and Simo d’Exea light boxes as just some of the aesthetic décor. The focus on ‘absence’ is emphasised by the stripped back walls highlighting the interior architecture, contemporary furnishings and artwork. The Suite Apartment option takes up the Palazzo’s entire left wing and has an abundance of elegant space for a family of six, including three double bedrooms and three bathrooms with walk-in showers and an arch roofed, stone tiled dining room / library. Opt for the Royal Suite for a bathroom to die for, with Andrea Sala’s ‘raining shower’ falling from a vast 20-foot vaulted ceiling into a sandstone basin – guaranteed to refresh after a full day’s ‘work’ of relaxation.
If you are not unwinding in your chosen suite, diving into the pool, enjoying a coffee in the ancient pavilion Kaffeehaus or sipping cocktails and nibbling olives in the gardens you can experience Salento in numerous ways. Spend a half day in Palazzo Daniele’s boat with an expert fisherman, sport fishing and learning how to catch a sea urchin or ride by horse with a local ranger along the rocky coves and sandy beaches of Otranto. There is even a Vintage Tour, a journey to discover the unknown Salento, its valleys of olive groves and baroque towns.
The hotel’s kitchen is a rendezvous, where guests are encouraged to visit and chat with the cook, Donata, while preparing traditional Apulian cuisine of lemon risotto, orecchiette with cima di rapa and freshly caught fish. You can learn the local cooking method of making the pasta yourself, before enjoying it with a glass of fine Salentinian wine out on the courtyard. Breakfast is served in the main courtyard, with a large outdoor table of local fresh baked breads and pastries, focaccias, cheeses, fruits and juices.
Petrucci and Salini’s concept of providing luxury and five star service while retaining the sense of a home, albeit one which is a haven for those who love art and design, is illustrated by the joyous yellow neon sign placed on the courtyard wall, ‘Questa casa non è un albergo,’ meaning ‘this is house is not a hotel’. This is further highlighted by the historical marble plaque at the entrance, which reveals a message from the past for future generations to abide by: ‘This is a place to be shared.’ And share it they have.
A few segreti (secrets) from Gabriele:
Sentiero del Ciolo
Ville di Leuca
Pescheria da Pietro
Piazza Pisanelli Tricase
Castello di Otranto Musem
AnimaMundi Library, Otranto
Castromediano Archeological Museum, Lecce