A sophisticated, offbeat retreat from heat and crowds. This fortified 18th-century palazzo is something of an oasis, behind massive doors on the main square of its simple southern village. You step into a serene enclosed garden dense with citrus trees, dotted with shaded places to sit; the family apartments and pool beyond. Indoors is relaxing and quirky in a smart way too. Bedrooms, with high, vaulted Salento ceilings, mix antique with modern and recycled pieces and bold artwork on white walls. Bathrooms are a blast with jets and big tubs – one in a fireplace! In the soaring, L-shaped salon/dining room an abundance of fine breakfast things is spread on a linen-covered table: try the Altomura bread, the fig jam and the steaming espresso. Light pours onto cushioned benches, bookshelves and oriental rugs; glass doors open on to the lap pool, loungers, cocktail tables and chairs. More good holiday news: no TV, intermittent Wi-Fi, an honesty bar, regional dinners, pool-side lunches, a roof-top hot tub, breathtaking coastal scenery and spas nearby. Take a boat trip, a cookery course. Go diving, wine tasting… unwind.