Rooney favours Barbados, Ronaldo likes LA but have you ever wondered where the likes of Eric Cantona or Marco Van Basten go on holiday? The players who don’t hog the limelight, stick pics of themselves on twitter or get papped wading out of the sea or into a nightclub?
Well I can tell you because last year I was sitting in the cool white stone foyer of an old fort in Puglia, Italy, leafing through the massive guest book and there, on different pages were the very clear autographs of the Dutch centre forward, who many people think the greatest European player of the modern era and the enigmatic Frenchman who changed English football.
No-one had mentioned it at the hotel, so I guess that’s why they go there, they don’t feel like they’re going to be noticed and blabbed about. Until now that is. Apologies chaps but it’s such a fantastic hotel I thought I ought to share it with a few people.
Now that my days of being tipped into a swimming pool from a sun-lounger, attending a naked wedding on rocks, and taking scuba lessons from a drunk Frenchman in a trawler are hopefully behind me I like to make sure I have a holiday where I don’t have to do anything but read a menu and a book. I normally like this to take place by a quiet a pool. I don’t like a nightclub on the premises. Make the bed comfortable, the food fantastic, the sun hot and I’m there.
It’s It’s the best part of a year since I went but if I sit and think about the pasta it still makes me feel good.
If you’re looking for a combination of the above and don’t want to fly beyond Europe I couldn’t recommend a finer establishment than Masseria Torre Maizza in Puglia. It’s a short drive south of Bari, which is in itself a pretty fine city. The hotel features a series of separate luxury suites, built between what was once a fort and acres of olive groves. Hidden next to the olive groves is an intricately landscaped 9 hole pitch and putt, take a car five minutes through the field after field of thousand year old trees and you’re at the Torre Maizza’s beach club. If you want privacy and peace stay at the hotel, if you fancy a bar scene and some atmosphere try the beach.
Some people don’t like getting up in the morning on holiday but this place had a breakfast you’d have camped overnight to get to. Some mornings it was just enough to have a wander round and look at and smell of everything. The fruit, the pastries, the cake. If you could have a relationship with food this would be a good place to start it.
The same went for the dinner, and the lunch was worth dwelling over too. It’s It’s the best part of a year since I went but if I sit and think about the pasta it still makes me feel good. If you fancy yourselves as a budding chef you could also duck down into one of the series of cooking schools they run.
I tried it, we were supposed to make pasta, everyone else made food that could have appeared on a television cooking show. Mine looked like it could have been made out of plasticine. But still, it was the only night of the week, I could cast doubt on the cooking. And it was good fun.
The most important and impressive thing for me was the tranquility. I went after the Italian season had finished in September. Silence prevailed. Light breezes blew. The sun beat down. I didn’t make it onto the golf course. I devoured Catch-22. I’ll be going back.
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