Mornings were always our favourite.
Those blissful few hours of beautiful blue skies and soft sunlight. A time for lazy breakfasts of strong coffee and fresh bread, taken on white metal chairs in the shade of a vine covered porch.
We would stare at maps of Puglia, and pick out places unknown to us, small towns, and even smaller villages - a decision to visit later in the day often made solely by our fondness for the name itself.
Yet there, bathed in an early spring warmth, we were happy to wait until the clouds edged east and cast a cooling shadow over the olive groves around us. Happy to live out a romantic Italian dream at the end of a dusty road in Corte dei Messapi.
Some of you may know that Puglia is not a new discovery for us, having spent ten blissful days travelling from coast to coast last year; a wonderful sun-soaked introduction to what felt like the 'real Italy'. We always knew we would return to uncover more of its secrets, however we didn't expect it to be so soon.
When the invite arrived to experience a wonderful countryside villa amongst the Valle d'Itria, a vast olive-carpeted region that perfectly encapsulates the Puglian way of life, and many of its most beautiful towns and villages, well, the answer was a clear yes.
And for one week, Corte dei Messapi provided a base that not only housed us, but soothed our souls.
Here, just 10 minutes drive from Ostuni, lies the chance to live out your own real-life dolce vita, particularly once the heat of Puglia's summer season arrives.
Its design of cool stone walls and furniture in delicate whites, punctuated by pops of green cacti and locally-sourced style notes and features, gives the accommodation an aesthetic similar to Puglia's own captivatingly pretty towns. Aside from serving as an excellently located base from which to visit these towns with story book names - Locorotondo, Alberobello, Otranto - the property is also perfect for those decadently lazy days sunbathing by the pool or enjoying large group meals on the terrace to sample the best of the region's wines, olive oils and signature pastas as the sun set before you.
The property, available for rent on Bookings For You, is set in a peaceful, private and secure countryside location. It is comprised of four distinct villas, all built with the same distinguished eye for craftmanship, high-quality furnishings, and luxurious decor.
The main villa | The main show-piece at Corte dei Messapi, the large villa sleeps up to 14, with seven double bedrooms (each with an ensuite). Internally set over two floors, there is a large kitchen, two inside lounging areas, multiple outdoor seating space suitable for large-scale dining, a beautiful pool and rooftop terrace and balcony with excellent views over the entire property, a hot tub and lots of sunbathing space.
The three-bedroom villa | Fenced off, and with its own private entrance, this is a fantastic option for a small family. Replete with a good size kitchen, dinner and three en-suite double bedrooms. It also has its own private pool.
The one bedroom villa | Small but perfectly formed, this quaint villa with open plan living area, kitchen, bedroom and en-suite is a good option for a couple. Please note that that the layout is half studio, half one bed apartment.
One bed trullo | Still standing at over 200 years old, the trullo (a truly traditional Puglian building) has been lovingly restored to provide a double bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen and dining area.
Corte dei Messapi was a fantastic spot to base ourselves during our second time in Puglia.
Located just a 5-10 minute drive from Ostuni, its location allows easy access to local restaurants and shopping, whilst the ocean can be reached in less than 15 minutes by car. Corte Dei Messapi can be reached in under 90 minutes from Bari Airport or 30 minutes from Brindisi Airport.
We were kindly hosted by Bookings For You and Raro Villas during our 2018 stay in Puglia, all opinions and photos are however our own.