Courtesy photos by Borgo Egnazia
Text by Antonella Boisi
The message arrives at first glance.
Amidst white trullo cottages, stone walls, vineyards, age-old olive trees, Borgo Egnazia speaks of the “Grande Casa Puglia” and the beauty of a place, Savelletri di Fasano (Brindisi), once a town of fishermen and embroiderers, close to the fine sand of the Adriatic, with every detail captured in reflections on tuff stone, the local material par excellence, cut by hand and sculptured by a metaphysical light. The story is that of the people who have contributed to create a contemporary hospitality facility, one of the Leading Hotels of the World, generating a holistic experience that combines territory, architecture and a warm welcome, love of nature and rural traditions, local flavors and culture. An exceptional 21st-century village –recently used as a set for the film “Viaggio Sola” starring Margherita Buy – establishes a subtle dialogue with the existing context, rejecting imitation and opting for the evocative, in the work of a studio of architects from Apulia – commissioned by Aldo Melpignano (deus ex machina of the whole Borgo Egnazia project) – guided by Pino Brescia, the talented set designer from Fasano. “The idea behind this completely new construction, whose first stone was laid in 2007, was a return to the roots. We have tried to give new value to the essential codes that have formed the identity of a territory for centuries, through the work of a proven team of experts,” says Aldo Melpignano, owner of Borgo Egnazia and managing director of San Domenico Hotels. This genius loci is also expressed in the exclusive offerings of Masseria San Domenico, Masseria Cimino, as well as the well-known San Domenico golf course, 18 holes on a beautiful stretch of the coast, that separates Borgo Egnazia from the sea, created to satisfy the needs of different clients with respect to those of the family’s rural facilities that focus on young families with children. On an overall area of 16.5 hectares, the tuff stone architecture of La Corte (the 5-star hotel with 63 rooms, including 10 seaview suites) is based on the memory of the fortified farmhouses, whose memory remains in the decorative details, including feeding troughs for livestock in front of the entrance court, and observation loopholes in the upper part of the tower. Adjacent to this central building stands the Borgo itself, a reminder of the image of rural villages in the region, with two-storey white cottages (93 rooms, including 12 Town Houses, 20 apartments and 19 suites), with echoes of Spanish and Moorish architecture, opening onto Arabian gardens, private patios and terraces. The small streets lined with flowering plants, citrus groves, places for gathering and socializing, restaurants and cafes (with a range of different atmospheres and offerings), swimming pools and tennis courts, for the complex’s connective tissue, completed by 28 exclusive Villas (250 m2 each) that have a more classical style, to provide a complete range of hospitality offerings including different bedrooms, large living areas, private pools, gardens and belvederes. While Villa, Borgo and Corte set out the narrative scheme of the architectural composition, the interior design reflects the mood of the resort, with obsessive attention to detail, emphasized by the omnipresent stellar vaults that mark the passages between the parts. The patterns of the tuff and coralline stones are matched with pale colors, always bathed in indirect light for the total white relaxation areas. Furniture, lamps, objects and accessories, all custom designed and made by local artisans, or items from local markets and workshops, are used in the collective and private spaces. Signs and signals that belong to a world of ancient gestures, creatively reinterpreted: from the stacks of newspapers in iron and glass display cases, reminders of the need for fuel for fireplaces, to the broomcorn stalks on the walls, the red cascades of hot peppers and jars of grain, walnuts and beans in the restaurants, items from a gastronomical tradition based on the journey from the ground to the plate, thanks to a large vegetable garden. The tables and beds are adorned with immaculate linen and hemp fabrics. This interior decor was a very intense task, considering the size of the facility, and the need to find a balance free of naive accents yet full of special effects. Like a tailor-made garment, in the theatrical hall of the hotel the monochrome geometries that bring out forms more than colors culminate in the figure of a symmetrical double staircase, attenuating the classical rigor of the line with a striking installation of lights and candles in the route to the rooms on the upper levels. The hotel also contains an avant-garde spa, where guests relax and revitalize before setting off from Borgo Egnazia to discover the nearby villages of Cisternino, Ostuni, Locorotondo and Alberobello, or the ancient Roman city of Egnazia, all very close by. The latter site, with its archaeology park, is now being explored and brought to light thanks to an agreement between the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Puglia and Fondazione San Domenico Onlus, headed by Marisa Lisi Melpignano: another tribute to the choral hospitality of the “Grande Casa.”