Deep in the winding, cobbled streets of Monopoli, through a painted arch and a door within a door, up marble stairs worn shiny over centuries… and you’re in a beautifully restored palazzo, with chatty staff offering peppery taralli biscuits as they check you in. A frescoed breakfast room straddles the lane below, morning chatter filtering up as you tuck into homemade cakes, local cheeses and fruit from the owners’ trees. Delicious, say guests, and it’s tempting to linger… but the blinding sunlight calls you outside: sailing and sea fishing, hiking trails, vineyards in the Itria Valley, an aperitivo in the square. Then dinner on the waterfront – the day’s catch, hauled up in the tidy port – and a nightcap on the palazzo’s top-floor terrace. Five soothing, dove-white bedrooms have restored furniture, fluffy towels, balconies; the two upper rooms, reached by courtyard stairs lined with orchids and vases, can join to make a family apartment. Between Bari and the Roman road to Brindisi, on a coastline of sandy bays and fishing villages, Monopoli is one of Puglia’s seaside treasures – and the palazzo a gem within it.