Stay in your own private palazzo – its 16th-century walls dominating Spongano’s Piazza Bacile. The charming barone and his English wife offer apartments for couples or families full of seductive comforts. On the first floor, a series of large terraces and four bedrooms open off a vaulted baronial hall with beige check sofas and an open fire (fir cones and logs are home-grown). Expect fine fabrics and four-posters, pink, yellow or marble bathrooms, wardrobes dwarfed by lofty ceilings and great kitchens – cookery courses are run here too, in a vast purpose-built kitchen. The outbuildings ‘casettes’ at the end of the long garden are similarly swish but cosier: olive wood tables, big lamps, framed engravings, books and CDs; again kitchens emphasise the owners’ passion. (They are also keen greens, saving energy, going solar and composting madly.) The garden is lovely, all orange trees and wisteria, secluded walkways and corners, old pillars and impressive pool; at twilight, owls chime like bells. Beyond lie the baroque splendours of Lecce, Gallipoli and Otranto – and the coast. Borrow the bikes!