Hidden amidst the medieval White City of Ostuni in Puglia, La Sommita is a tucked-away palace, beckoning world-weary guests to take pause. With a Michelin star restaurant, blissful views over rugged terrain and modern suites with historical accents, it provides an amazingly restorative stay.
Rough roads vein the southern region of Puglia, trickling through barren plains and sun-scorched earth. Whilst arteries of S roads pump traffic to and from the cities of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto, their capillaries feed into the ancient campagna. A primal quiet inhabits the fields, where only crickets and birdsong murmur. Masserias watch over flocks of vineyards, whilst the faded green tones of the olive trees shimmer against the hazy sky.
Amidst this scene, the medieval city of Ostuni billows from afar – a cumulous cloud of pure white, undulating across three hills. Encompassed by Aragonese walls, roads divide the city into tumbling tiers of houses, shops, and churches, all of which spiral upwards to the peak, where the Duomo di Ostuni perches. Within the centro storico, La Sommità hotel resides. You arrive by wandering through the old town, a warren of weatherworn paths, crooked steps, and ancient archways, with warm heat and cool sea air funnelling through its alleys. Each building glows with a chalky finish thanks to the use of lime wash, which, in the 17th century, was believed to have antiseptic qualities against the plague. Their appearance bequeathed Ostuni the fond title of La Città Bianca.
La Sommità preserves and highlights its history, with accents of bare brick, cornicing, and original vaulted ceilings that speak of its past as a 16th century palace. Natural light effortlessly sweeps in, dousing the modern beige linen sofas and white orchid adorned coffee tables with welcoming illumination. Ceramic pumo are placed throughout the rooms, as Puglian good luck symbols. Consisting of a simple bud, they are traditionally decorated with three acanthus leaves, representing spring and renewal.
With only 15 bedrooms, each one is lovingly tailored for comfort. Fluffy pillows beckon atop the linen draped bed, which faces the expansive view, framed by pooling white curtains. The earth tones are grounding and serene, luxurious in their simplicity. This is all that is necessary. Our bathroom has a bird’s eye view over the stairways, which disappear into a medley of white walls.
Outside, a cyan blue plunge pool gently ripples next to worn wooden loungers under the canopies of trees, both of which are an inviting reprieve from the heat. The relaxation continues into the wellness spa, where personalised treatments are on offer, from Turkish baths and reflexology, to massages, using scrub treatments and aromatherapy to soothe the soul.
When night draws in, Cielo restaurant conjures meals inspired by cucina povera. Utilising its abundant coastline and provincial ideals to showcase the region’s edible riches, it marries humble ingredients, such as ricotta cheese, cod and polenta, with modern inventiveness. These dishes can be served outside in the ancient garden, or on the terrace and solarium.
As Puglia has no need to shout for attention, nor does La Sommità. Its draw is quiet and natural, bestowing necessities of rustic, pure food, local wine, and sunshine. Beheld from the terrace, the Adriatic blisters between sky and earth. Threads of gold and pink weave a sunset, amber light flooding the regimented olive groves, and the land is awash with a peaceful hush. A stillness which feels centuries old.