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Finding La Dolce Vita

epicure 29 August 2013

Is it a hotel, a guesthouse or a bed & breakfast? No, it is a unique convento in the unknown region of Salento in southern Italy—run by an English Lord. Come here to slow-travel, relax and eat like a real Italian.

Welcome to a piece of raw, intriguing and mysterious Puglia, located in the heel, or rather, the stiletto of Italy. Only half an hour’s drive from the beautiful city of Lecce, winding along a coastal road, lies the small town of Marittima di Diso. I’m in search of a small guesthouse called Convento di Santa Maria di Constantinopoli, which is run by the eccentric and well-known English Lord McAlpine and his elegant Greek wife, Lady Athena McAlpine, who is 27 years his junior.

Indeed, the old convento has no sign, no name, in fact, no real address. The monks built the monastery so ingeniously that with a little help from the wind and lots of cool dark corners and spaces, it feels remarkably fresh. Guests enjoy their lunch while sitting at different tables scattered around the garden. It’s worth booking a soiree and dinner at the convento.. The result is a delicious but simple dinner consisting of perfectly grilled meats, seasonal veggies and lots of wine.

Excerpt from the September 2013 issue of epicure.

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