A relative newcomer to the accommodation scene, Naturalis is an interpretation of Puglia’s traditional Masseria, ancient farms converted into luxury accommodation that have become a must-see when staying in the region. It started as an organic aloe vera farm, producing quality beauty products for the N&B Cosmetics brand and adding spaces to accommodate customers. While Aloe is still the heart of the business, now everyone can enjoy this quiet corner of Salento, about 30 minutes from the tourist center of Lecce. Under the Small Luxury Hotels banner, the small number of guests this resort accommodates can relax in comfort surrounded by the orchards, gardens and vineyards that grow produce for the restaurant.
Designed in the style of a 19th-century masseria, small buildings house rooms surrounding the large restaurant with adjacent courtyard for al fresco dining. There’s a large pool with a rustic bar and a pizza oven that’s fired up for regular pizza nights. For special guests – think honeymooners – there’s the incredible Tower of the Stars, an old grain elevator converted into three-story accommodation, with a bedroom upstairs and an underground spa and grotto. For everyone else, another building houses a spa for relaxation massages and healing baths.
Inheriting the aesthetic of an antique farmhouse with a shaded veranda, my “Aloe” suite is a very spacious, airy space with an olive green and white color scheme. The room has a rustic vibe with a wrought-iron bed, vintage wooden furniture, a vaulted wooden ceiling, and a wooden-framed whirlpool tub with deep ceramic pots filled with candles. The bathroom is also spacious, equipped with a double shower and uneven retro tiles and an antique washbasin (only for decoration). I was also surprised and delighted to discover a large, private courtyard behind closed back doors.
food + drink
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is sumptuous — fresh fruit, yogurt, a wide variety of cakes like colorful fruit tarts, mini cornettos, and powdered-sugar dusted pasticciotto — Puglia’s signature pastries, like a custard-filled friand washed down with double espresso or Leccese iced coffee with almond milk . Since most people take day trips, there’s no set menu for lunch; the chef decides on the day what to create from seasonal products. I try burrata in a cool cucumber puree and a modern take on a traditional frisella with tuna salad.
Dinner is a modern affair, beginning with mixed salted vegetables from the garden and fresh bread with their own olive oil, followed by spaghetti and a sea bass cooked to perfection on a bed of chicory and lemon. The dessert is a tiramisu rich in mascarpone, cookie crunch and a touch of ice cream, perfect for the hot weather. The wines were also excellent and local, including a red Negroarmano from the vineyards here.
Naturalis is located in a quiet corner of southern Puglia, just outside the town of Martano, which slowly put it on the map as the “City of Aloe”. It’s just a short trip to the seaside village of Otranto and the surrounding spectacular and highly Instagrammable beaches. It’s also an easy journey to the bustling west coast town of Gallipoli, an hour away. If you want to make the most of Naturalis’ beautiful surroundings, there are many activities you can do indoors, such as: B. a visit to the aloe vera farm to see how the gel is extracted. There are also pasta making classes or you can learn how to make a mosaic with a local artist.
This luxurious retreat in the heart of Salento allows guests to commune with nature while nourishing themselves.
rating of five
Via Traglia sn, Contrada Ulive Grandi, 73025 Martano LE, Italy; naturalisbioresort.com; Prices start at around $350 per night.
There were many, but I was delighted to see two kittens’ faces looking down at me one night as I ventured into my private courtyard to hang out some laundry (using the drying rack provided – another thoughtful gesture).
Missing a second dinner here was a mistake (I stopped off for nearby Gallipoli instead).
The author stayed as a guest of Small Luxury Hotels