The Masseria Potenti is lost in time. Once through the great iron gates that guard this centuries-old walled farm, guests forget the outside world and unwind in the total peace and quiet that surrounds this very special place. The owner is Maria Grazia, a former fashionista from Milan who returned to her native Puglia with her husband Paolo in search of a place she could restore and from where she could introduce visitors to a part of Italy that has slipped under the radar of even the most inquisitive of travellers.

The 18 bedrooms are discreetly situated throughout the central courtyard. Maria Grazia, a self-confessed hoarder, has shared her incredible collection of vintage fabrics so that guests sleep sweetly in four poster beds under lavender scented linens from another century. Even babies are spoilt in an antique cot that belonged to Maria Grazia‚Äôs great-grandmother. Each bedroom has its own working fireplace and private terrace overlooking the gardens which overflow with lavender, orange and pomegranate trees making them a haven for visiting butterflies. The two little apartments are a delight, especially number 10 with its vast antique stone bath, ceramics made by artisans in the nearby town of Grottaglie and hand-painted tiles. Even the sweet-smelling jasmine is unique to this little pocket of Puglia.

Everyone looks very very pleased to be here, especially in the evening when they congregate in the al fresco dining room. The food is exceptional, there is no menu and the all-female kitchen team choose daily from the farm’s produce or from nearby fish markets in Manduria. Because of this, many guests choose to never venture forth from this enchanted world, but that would be a shame with the clear waters of the Ionian Sea and miles and miles of pristine sandy beaches just a short drive away. Even more so, when even in August, the beaches remain empty.

Elsewhere at Potenti, guests are encouraged to join the daily yoga sessions in the restored Limonaia, dance the Pizzica with Maria Grazia in the evening and rifle through her Pandora’s Box of a shop which includes a 1950s Pucci bathing suit and a rather extensive collection of vintage wedding dresses from the 1920s. This place is a one-off.