Perched on a hill with watercolor vistas over olive groves and vineyards, Tenuta dell’Alto is the latest grand Puglian estate to receive a new lease on life. Built in the early 1880s (complete with chapel and formal gardens) as a country retreat for a noble Italian family, the property gradually fell into ruin over the ensuing century and a half. Now, the villa has been rescued and over the course of a two-year renovation, reimagined as an unfussy, design-forward villa that is as sophisticated as it is charming.
“Seeing an old house with a glorious past that’s now in ruins makes us want to buy it and rescue it from destruction,” says architect Patrizio Fradiani who, along with his husband Mark Steinberg, has bought and restored seven properties in Italy and in Mexico. Their next project is transforming a farmhouse in Umbria, “it’s like an addiction,” he adds.
For Tenuta dell’Alto, which set in acres of citrus orchards and manicured gardens, Fradiani and Steinberg have created a peaceful retreat from the noise of modern life. The look is equal parts refined and playful—think Palm Springs meets Mykonos—with a palette of white, terracotta, and gray décor providing an easy backdrop for midcentury-inspired furniture, antiques, and bold pieces from local artisans. Each of six guest suites (sleeping 12 total) have been built for slow, languid days, coming complete with private baths, air conditioning, and extra-large king beds.
In the living area, a modern kitchen opens up to a romantic portico with a cozy fireplace and a rustic table big enough to seat a full house. Guests can do their own cooking, putting ingredients from the property’s organic vegetable garden and local farmers markets to good use. “We can arrange a local chef to cook authentic Pugliese meals…maybe some simple, just-caught grilled fish or handmade pasta” says Patrizio. Bottles that will pair well with whatever dinner dreamed up that night (or daily afternoon charcuterie), are held in the underground cellar, which contains a well-rounded collection of reds and rosés, mostly from the local vineyards putting Puglia on the wine-tasting map.
Besides wining and dining, other on-property experiences include cooking classes helmed by local chefs, massages out by the heated infinity pool, or simply relaxing, reading, and napping in colorful hammocks under fragrant Mediterranean pines. A private car and driver can also be arranged to take you around Puglia’s charming white-washed villages, enchanting old churches, stunning medieval castles, and to out-of-the-way wineries for tastings of the region’s celebrated Primitivo. But only if you can bear to leave the posh tranquility of Tenuta dell’Alto.