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Fire up the Fiat: a palazzo-hopping road trip through Puglia

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Talk about a moveable feast…

 For the last 18 months, Italy has often been beyond reach. If, like us, you’ve been finding solace at the bottom of a bowl of cacio e pepe or tub of gelato, then prepare to let out a Pavarotti-esque bellow of joy. This summer, la dolce vita came back with a bang as Italy returned to her sensual self. To make up for lost time, we've put together a series of road trips so you needn't confine yourself to a single stay. The route below passes through the best of Puglia, but we've also got itineraries that include Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como…

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Paragon 700’s audacious name sets expectations high, but there’s no hyperbole here. The hotel owners – a design duo with a history of revamp successes – have thrown the full force of their passion into rescuing 18th-century Palazzo Rosso from ruin, hauling South African bomas, Indian gazebos and French antiques into rooms, touching up frescoes, glamming up Ostuni’s largest private garden and injecting new life throughout.

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An hour’s drive south of Ostuni, in ‘Florence of the south’ Lecce, is La Fiermontina, a luxury hotel which pays homage to a tempestuous love triangle between the owner’s grandmother Antonia Fiermonte and the two artists who loved her, René Letourneur and Jacques Zwobada. Achingly romantic and beautifully styled, it’s a stay that tells its story through monumental artworks and family heirlooms.

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Further south (an hour by car) at the tip of Italy’s heel is a 19th-century palazzo that has wholly embraced modernism while retaining its classical charm. Elaborately frescoed walls and vaulted ceilings make a striking backdrop for sleek and precise mid-century-style statement pieces and idiosyncratic artworks. But beyond its good looks it's a jovial host too, with a resident chef on hand to create home-cooked feasts.

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Specifically, we've teamed up with Change Makers – who excel at eliciting insight from composers, campaigners, CEOs, actors, economists and former prime ministers – to slip behind the check-in desk and speak to some of our favourite hoteliers about what makes them tick. To kick off the series our very own founders, James and Tamara, share their thoughts on all things travel and what it means to be a hotel lover in Unprecedented Times™.







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