Palazzo Tafuri

The Story

It was the owners’ passion for Italy, that made today’s Palazzo Tafuri possible. Count and Countess d’Espous regularly travel Italy which they love, to discover country, people, food and wine.

Their travel also took them to Puglia, where they discovered Nardò, a jewel in the Salento, with its Baroque and Moorish buildings, churches and monasteries. Only 20 km from Lecce, the regions capital, it has the charm of a small city, with an active and colourful “Piazza life”, while offering all the amenities visitors enjoy.

And in one of the oldest parts of Nardò, in front of the monastery Santa Chiara, they found Palazzo Tafuri, beautifully located right opposite an ancient Monastery. Immediately it came to them that the Palazzo would be ideally suited for a unique Hotel; a centre for fine dining, relaxing, and retreating.

And that is how it started. The Salento born architect Claudio Colaci and Belgian born Interior Design Consultant Vincent De Cat got “carte blanche” to realize the project. It took two years and “full immersion” as well as local builders, craftsmen and artists to turn the original building in what it is today: a beautifully restored and refurbished Palazzo, combining the preserved beauty of the past with the comforts and amenities of a modern, luxurious Boutique Hotel.

Formerly, it was Antonio Tafuri and his wife Vincenza who in 1885 started restructuring the Palazzo and gave it its grandeur that is still preserved today. They added a large and spacious courtyard to allow carriages to enter and built stables for the horses, the home of the Bacco & Crudi bar today. Imposing and spacious staircases were created for comfortable access to the living quarters, and the wonderful frescoes were commissioned. Until this day, the family crest of the Tafuri family graces the entrance to the Palazzo.

Prior to the Tafuris, the Zimara family owned the Palazzo. Vincenzo Zimara was a very successful herbalist and pharmacist in Nardò, something that has been paid tribute to by the owners: each of the 16 Grand Suites, Suites and Deluxe Rooms exhibits a print by Blossfeldt, a passionate botanist from the 18th century, or a contemporary photograph of a local Mediterranean plant by Salento artist Rocco Casaluci.

And also, the current owners have a great affinity for plants: Countess d’Espous is the President of the French Botanic Park Association.

Whether sitting in the open courtyard at the centre of the Palazzo listening to the calming noise of the fountain, watching the sunset on the rooftop bar, or relaxing in the spa with its beautiful green planted wall; you experience peace, tranquillity and beauty allowing you to unwind also outside the privacy of your own room.

The restaurant at Palazzo Tafuri, the heart of the hotel, offers exquisite cuisine as the d’Espous, being connoisseurs themselves, place a lot of emphasis on fine dining. Meet chef Antonio Capoccello and his team and enjoy his lovingly created culinary delights.

Nardò

The Salento peninsula, the most southern tip of Puglia, is the land of beautiful architecture, vineyards and crystal-clear blue seas.

Nardò, a jewel in Salento with its baroque town centre and more than 37 km (23 miles) of coastline, dates back to 460 B.C. Through the centuries it has seen flourishing art and culture but also oppression and poverty. Churches, monasteries, palazzi and a beautiful theatre grace the town centre. At its heart is Piazza Salandra inviting locals and visitors to take a coffee or “aperitivo” in one of the numerous bars and restaurants lining the Piazza.

Part of the commune of Nardò are the two picturesque Ionian seaside towns of Santa Maria al Bagno and Santa Caterina, both only 8 km (5 miles) away. Whether you want to go for a swim, a dive or simply sit and enjoy watching life while having a meal or snack of freshly made local delicacies – it’s all there.

The nature reserve of Porto Selvaggio stretching from Santa Caterina to beyond Torre Uluzzo offers spectacular enticement for long walks breathing in the intoxicating scent of extensive pine forests lining the coast line.

Stop at Galatina to admire the incredible frescoes of Basilica di Santa Caterina, or go to Gallipoli the ancient port town of the region, which is 17 km (10 miles) from Nardò and charms with its old fishing port where still today the boats go out every morning to harvest the freshest of fish for the many seafood restaurants to be found here. The old town centre invites visitors to take a stroll and discover little treasures from locally woven baskets to hand-made sandals or demonstrations of local pasta making. And the sunsets seen from Gallipoli are simply stunning.

The Baroque architecture of Nardò is paralleled only by Lecce, the capital of the province and only 25 km (10 miles) away. Lecce dates back to around 200 B.C. and today is a buzzing university town with a roman amphitheatre at its centre. Walking through Lecce, or taking one of the sightseeing trains, you will discover beauty on beauty: monuments, churches, arches and gateways, gargoyles and figurines – Lecce is a never-ending flood of visual stimulation and it is not by chance that it carries the name “The Capital of Baroque”.

Going a little further afield there is more to explore such as the towns of Ostuni, Otranto, Tricase or Santa Maria di Leuca which is literally the end of Italy where the Adriatic and the Ionian seas meet. The beautiful church of “Santuario di Santa Maria de Finbius Terrae”, which dates back to the 18th century, towers on the last piece of land of this beautiful country and looks upon nothing but blue sea which stretches until the shores of North Africa.