Brian’s experience with Apulia Property Design

Puglia, how it went: We first visited Puglia and Valle D’Itria in the summer of 2005 as guests in a group of trulli with friends from Milan. We were enchanted by the countryside, the architecture of the local Trulli and Masserie, the winding country roads lined with dry stone walls. There was something magic about it and reminiscent of my childhood holidays in rural Ireland, although there was also a radiant Sun, delicious food and nearby beaches.

That Christmas we travelled to Bali following an invitation from my wife’s cousin, whom we had met on the beach at Torre Canne by pure coincidence. He had just bought a group of trulli close to Cisternino and was working on the renovation. We eagerly returned at Easter of 2007 and also decided to return for the Summer that year. We agreed that we wanted to purchase a group of trulli to restore and scanned all the websites. Following this, we made numerous visits to properties for sale and travelled through the countryside close to Cisternino to see if we could spot something interesting for sale, but to no avail. Finally, in June 2009 I spotted a piece of land with a small lamia for sale on a local website. By this time, we had a number of friends in the area, so I asked my friend to go and see the land, he immediately told me that he knew the area and we should go for it. Travelled down and on contemplating the view, realized that what we wanted was the view and position and not necessarily a group of trulli.

I bought the land and with the lamia and by then the neighbours on both sides were also interested in selling. So, we found ourselves with 3 hectares including a stretch of woods. We started restructuring the lamia, which is only 20 square meters could sleep two and we also bought a Mongolian yurt of six meters in diameter to house our two teenage children. We spent a lot of time there happily whilst thinking about building a house on the top of the hill, where the best view was. Around October 2014 after having played around with four or five potential projects for the new house we passed by the office of Apulia Property Design in Cisternino and the layout of the office caught my eye. I contacted Annalisa and following an initial exchange and meeting we were convinced that we had finally met someone who understood what was the best solution for us.

After detailed discussions, we agreed on a base budget Daniele presented us with a project with summed up perfectly our previous discussions. We were all very enthusiastic and began to work on the details. Annalisa and Daniele managed to get the project approved, despite numerous local building restrictions regarding the position of the house, cubic meters etc., etc. Groundwork started in December 2015. In a mere 12 months, the team had completed the turn-key project and we moved-in, in December 2016. We rent the villas in some period of the year, find more info on Massimo Villas

The house is a mirror of the sea.

Inspired by the incredible beauty and charm of Puglia, with its rich gastronomic heritage and its many historical towns, we fell in love with the idea of building an architecturally stunning home on the Adriatic. We were enchanted by the town of Polignano à Mare, with its ancient buildings hanging off the cliff face, its mysterious narrow streets and its hip big brother, Monopoli. We were determined to make Puglia our Italian home and we wanted somewhere peaceful yet close to the towns of Polignano and Monopoli, We had been staying at a lovely villa on a hillside in Polignano when the owner Leonardo suggested we meet his neighbour Giovanni who might be interested in selling some land. His land wasn’t suitable but I will never forget the day myself and Annalisa, our now dear friend and project manager walked across the stunning hillside. I had an epiphany and all my hair stood on end. I realised this was the place my heart and soul desired to be and I locked eyes with Annalisa and she understood this was going to be a magical journey.  From that field, I and Annalisa worked across the land to find a tiny plot where we would have permission to build our home A beautiful quiet hillside with views of the Adriatic on one side and stunning olive groves on the other., The journey has been long and not without its problems. However, we share a deep-seated trust with Annalisa and believed together we could overcome any obstacles. 

So thus the hard work began in 2016, which included first finding the exact particella of land required to secure building permits in a protected area, where new building construction is mostly prohibited. We needed to persuade four families to sell us pieces of their land for the required volume, with one family member living as far away as Zanzibar! We successfully purchased the land we needed to complete our architectural monument house in the UNESCO protected hillside, and the project could begin.  With the land and permits secured, we needed someone with the vision and expertise to create a stunning modern home. We discovered Daniele Corsaro, an award-winning architect based in Grottaglie.

Our aesthetics and vision were aligned perfectly and inspiration came from a range of sources including the mid-century-modern architecture of Le Corbusier’s Pavillion House, with its glass and steel construction, to the inside-outside living motif of the Californian-style architects Eames, Eichler, and Neutra. The indoor garden with its tropical plants is a unique living part of the bespoke three-story custom steel staircase. The villa, while technologically very advanced, harks back to the design aesthetics of the mid 20th century, while also utilising the traditional building methods of Puglia, with its dry-stone walls and Tufo stone. This stunning modern villa sits perfectly within its ancient rural landscape. Villa Specchio di mare appears to float above the landscape and from its hilltop aspect, the sea appears to touch the edge of the infinity pool. Sunrise creates a dramatic silvery light across the Adriatic and the sunset casts a beautiful pink and orange glow across the floor to ceiling wall of glass. The house becomes a part of the landscape, and you can look through it, from the sea to the olive groves and hills that sit behind. 

The house is a mirror of the sea, Villa Specchio di Mare.