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Napoleon’s Mountain

As much as we appreciate 5* continuous ridiculous luxury (and you know we do), sometimes a taste of authentic local life can be more memorable and rewarding than any gold plated Louis XIV indulgence.  In the heel of the boot of Italy lies a region called Puglia, also known as “Italy’s California.”  It’s historically well known for its agriculture and varied architecture styles with the native tufa stone, and in this land of wine and olive oil, there is no shortage of finding a simple country life.  But what is not so easy to find in the search for a rustic experience is a residence done with potency and refinement.  It is here that we enter Masseria Montenapoleone.

Welcome! Olive us welcome you! Hardy har har…

Take a seat in your private patio. Take a seat in your private patio.

From the proprietor and his family, to the landscape, to each exquisitely specific detail, Masseria Montenapoleone offers a type of genuine experience that is increasingly hard to find in this social media daze of ours.  While you may not know exactly what you are looking for, Montenapoleone has the ability to offer something for everyone at a moment’s notice.

Proprietor Giuliano and the lovely Alessandra Proprietor Giuliano and the lovely Alessandra

Cruising through the groves. Cruising through the groves.

I arrived on an unseasonably rainy February afternoon, one which everyone went out of their way to tell me was atypical, and I was immediately captivated by the standout colors of the Masseria against the hazy gray sky.  A Masseria, in former times, was a farmhouse that had been fortified to ward off the constant threat of Turkish invasion.  Many of these homes have now been transformed into B&Bs, agriturismos, or full service hotels, some embracing their past culture, and some, not so much.

The country house The country house in the winter

What up guy. What up guy.

Masseria Montenapoleone, named after the big boss of the property, cat Napoleone, combines historic charm with modern necessities in clean and refreshing environment.  While entering through the huge wrought iron gate and driving through acres of olive and almond groves before you even set eyes on the property, you are constantly wondering what’s ahead, what lies beyond this onslaught of green?  Once you arrive to the stark white walls with rosy borders, you feel somehow already welcomed, like you just pulled into your own driveway.

The sitting room. Yes, they drilled a hole for the flowers to grow in from outside. The sitting room. Yes, they drilled a hole for the flowers to grow in from outside.

Just a light lunch with the family. Just a light lunch with the family.

Laden with nature and all of the attributes that come with staying at a farm (cock-a-doodle-doo included), I feel like I’ve been transported to a time when people talked to each other, when they got their hands dirty, when people knew how to change a tire without Googling it first.  Walking through the olives groves with owner and winemaker Giuliano, I am reminded of the vast possibilities that nature has to offer.  Arrive during the fall for the grape or olive harvest to help with collecting and pressing (and imbibing, of course).  Cruise through in the end of winter when you can pick all of your own seasonal vegetables and have an on-site cooking class with the produce you’ve just gathered.  Grab a springtime bike ride and journey through the expansive property, stopping for ocean view selfies and a quick orange from the orchard.  Or chill by the pool in the summer and get your wine and dine on, languidly filling up on all of the products of the Masseria and drinking the native grapes.  Or you know, a piña colada, whatever’s your style.

Don't worry, they have a larger selection of bikes. Don’t worry, they have a larger selection of bikes.

My new favorite secret garden... My new favorite secret garden…

Mom’s working in the office, Dad’s out in the fields, brother Giacomo is restoring and refurbishing the property with antique items like shears, old Singer sewing machines, and something they tell me is called a “rotary phone.”  Everything about this place is a memory, most blatantly seen by the image of their grandfather on their biodynamic oil cans, the first of the family to cultivate the olives and transform it into their deliciously spicy oil.  At the end, this isn’t just a place to stay.  This is an experience, without duplicate.

Organic olive oil from the trees ranging from 25-1,000 years old. Organic olive oil from the trees ranging from 25-1,000 years old.

The Wall of Fame, with all the staff's old family photos. The Wall of Fame, with all the staff’s old family photos.

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