25 of the best villas in Europe
A long, alfresco lunch, good company, beautiful surroundings, and a private pool in which to cool off: of such things are memorable holidays made. Sophie Butler selects a range of fabulous venues in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Greece, suitable for romantic liaisons, family gatherings or large groups of friends.
Villa Elia (sleeps 10-17) near Gallipoli, Puglia
This stately, 18th-century villa with beautiful rural views has a vast garden of lawns, groves, fruit tree and a walled pool with showers and a gazebo. Vaulted ceilings, ornate cast-iron balconies, broad terraces and an impressive arched stone entrance lend the house Italianate grandeur. The whitewashed interiors contain an eccentric mix of ethnic, contemporary and antique furniture (including pieces from Brown’s hotel in London). Reasons to invite a group of friends here include a billiard room (in the former chapel), a small cinema, bicycles and nine bathrooms (of which seven are en-suite), but the main draw is the first-hand taste of aristocratic living Italian-style
On the Doorstep
Gallipoli and its sandy beaches (try those around Ugento), the baroque, lime-stone-built city of Lecce is about 40km away.