Finally, Lecce has a hotel we can be proud of! La Fiermontina is a very picturesque 17th-century villa just inside the ancient walls of Lecce that opened late last year to international acclaim. Parisian born owner Giacomo Fiermonte and his sister Antonia stumbled upon the house and adjoining land for sale in 2000 while visiting Lecce and soon set about a major restoration project working with an Italian architect whose previous clients included the Hermes family and film director Roberto Benigni.

Attention to detail is outstanding with that lovely soft tufa stone exterior so typical of the region, housing a very modern interior. Think Aman in terms of style. Bespoke textiles and organic bath products perfectly complement the antiques and art belonging to the family and many of the 16 bedrooms have star-pinnacle ceilings, private balconies and open fireplaces. Our favourite is surprisingly not the biggest suite in the hotel, but room 14, a deluxe which is just lovely and airy with great big vaulted ceilings and an aura of total peace and tranquillity.

To top it off, the gardens whose olive trees still provide enough oil to supply the restaurant are home to the family’s superb collection of sculpture and include pieces by Leger and Zwobada (and the lobby area boasts pieces by Le Corbusier). There is a small swimming pool, and plenty of places to relax with a good book as the swallows dip and dive and the setting sun turns the ancient city walls pink.