It’s an unusually cosmopolitan story: set in Grecìa Salentina, an enclave of Greek descent in the tip of the heel of Puglia, Critabianca was established as a farmhouse in the 14th century, and then transformed into an aristocratic residence by a French nobleman during a period of 18th-century Bourbon rule. Today it’s a classic country-house hotel, and a perfect introduction to the charms of southern Italian life, convenient to the beaches and to towns like Gallipoli, Otranto, and Lecce.
In true country-house style it remains small; no outbuildings or cottages, just six bedrooms in the main house, each one leaving intact the historic architecture and floor plan, decorated in a near monochrome that’s soothing to the contemporary eye but which is anything but modern. Some feature distinctive vaulted ceilings, a detail that’s characteristic of Puglian construction; the Architect’s Suite is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most stylish of the bunch.
And these days one of Puglia’s great selling points is its cuisine. Breakfast is served in the garden alongside an orange grove, with a light lunch available here or by the poolside. If you’re on site in the afternoon, an aperitivo is a must, and if you reserve in the morning there’ll be a table waiting for you at dinner as well.