Polignano a Mare | Giovì Relais

With 6 quietly charming rooms plus subterranean spa in a 19th-century townhouse, Giovì Relais is a quite a gem in the place Apulians call the pearl of the Adriatic (bearing in mind that every Adriatic region – and indeed every other – has its pearl). Apulia is a rocky place and building materials naturally take their cue: each room has the traditional vaulted ceilings in exposed stone, stone flags on the floors and even stone wall lamps sculpted by local craftsmen. Bathrooms are clad in a waterproof plaster made with pulverised terracotta, a technique used in ancient Rome and handed down over the centuries; washbasins are fashioned from the same cocciopesto.

As for the décor, period pieces complement some contemporary essentials for a bland, refined-rustic sort of style. A cocoon of gentle lighting and calming hues, the spa in the old cellars boasts a salt cave, Turkish bath, chromo- and aromatherapy showers, pool with hydro-massage jets, and the usual tempting menu of professional massages and treatments. Perched on low cliffs just under 30km south of BariPolignano a Mare is a pretty, walled town featuring the simple architecture typical of the region, an abundance of sea caves and beaches with the Blue Flag eco-label, and good traditional cuisine using a cornucopia of wonderful foodstuffs from both land and sea. It makes a fine base from which to explore Apulia.