If Don Ferrante were on the piazzetta in Capri or the Quai Jean Jaurès in St Tropez, no one would bat an eyelid. But it isn’t, it’s in Puglia, and how lucky we are to know about it: a tiny, ten-bedroom townhouse that was originally a fortress carved into the former defensive walls that surround the enchanting fishing town of Monopoli.
Even to Italophiles in the know, this proud little gem comes as a complete surprise with its super-discreet front door that opens to reveal a little maze of narrow stone steps and corridors that all lead to the same jaw-dropping view of the Adriatic. With the blue blue sea ever apparent, it made sense for the owner Gianni, a local aristo, to make his hotel entirely white. Everything from the staff linen uniform (and gosh are they friendly) to the little vintage Ape van that trundles guests through the cobbled streets of Monopoli is whiter than white, like something out of a Persil ad.
Bedrooms are simple, sun-filled and extremely comfy. Created for romance, it would be easy to never leave your vast king-size bed, but you must as Monopoli is the real deal. Fishermen still mend their nets and sell slippery live sardines from buckets by the harbour whilst tiny wizened old ladies dressed in funereal black pinch out orecchiette with their thumbs from plastic chairs outside their front doors.
The hotel itself has an oh-so-glam restaurant and bar on the roof, with, yes, you guessed it, white sofas, umbrellas and white flower pots stuffed with prickly pears. However we rather love the restaurant downstairs in the cavernous ex-gunpowder store room where breakfast is to be found each morning. Try to nab the little lovers’ table for two by the window at the back. You’ll probably spy last night’s waiter fishing from the rocks down below. The pool is tiny and really just somewhere to refresh yourself after a long siesta, but you don’t need it with some of the best beaches in Italy just a short drive south and access to a members-only beach club which is straight out of the Hamptons.