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CASTELLO DI UGENTO is a passion project born of a couple’s desire to share the best of Italian art, architecture, history, and gastronomy. The vision of co-founders Massimo Fasanella d’Amore and Diana E. Bianchi, has been to turn this nine-hundred-year-old Castello, expanded in the eighteenth century into a baroque palazzo by d’Amore’s ancestors, into a luxurious boutique hotel and regional cultural hub. The four-year renovation, begun in 2013, perfectly marries the ancient and the modern, with magnificently restored golden stone walls, baroque frescoes, and nineteenth-century starshaped vaulted ceilings in the first-floor rooms (the site of a museum area and future art gallery). All nine contemporary luxury suites have been curated with modern pieces from top Italian designers along with vintage finds and handmade local pieces. Established in part as a showcase for Puglia cooking traditions, the property was also selected by the Culinary Institute of America as their first ever European training ground for students, and where hotel guests can immerse themselves in the art and craft of Italian gastronomy and enology.

Famed Italian chef Odette Fada serves as House Chef of the Puglia Culinary Centre, located in the castle, as well as the on-site restaurant, Il Tempo Nuovo, where she utilizes her vast knowledge and experience to artfully interpret traditional Puglian cuisine. Fresh seasonal ingredients are grown in the castello’s restored eighteenth-century walled garden, featuring over one hundred herbs and plants, along with lemon, orange, almond, apricot, prune, fig, and persimmon trees. It’s a lovely spot to relax with a book or glass of wine form the hotel’s cellar, which highlights several local grape varieties as well as the best of Italian wines. Restaurant seating is available in the paved courtyard or in

the vaulted La Torre Ritrovata, whose glass floor reveals the remains of a Norman tower unearthed in the renovation. Or, ask to sit at the Chef’s Table in the former seventeenthcentury storage and bakery kitchens, now turned into a sophisticated state-of- the art open kitchen where you can follow Fada’s team of chefs as they prepare your meal.

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