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Club Hits, Villa Mixes

Another Puglian option lies on the opposite coast, using Villa Elia as your base. This ravishingly romantic 18th-century house sleeps 17 and is a 10-minute drive from the town of Gallipoli on the Ionian Sea. It feels deep in the Puglia countryside, yet of another world, too. Owned by the son of a Milanese fashion designer, the interiors are a mix of antique and midcentury furniture, collectable art and market finds, the entire look put together in an eclectic, knowing way - posh hippie, if you will, except this hippie life comes with staff (including Roberta, the villa's memorable cook), a cinema room and a large pool amid the orange, fig and mulberry trees with Elia's olive groves stretching for some 17 acres beyond. Balelido is the beach club I would pair this with. About 30 minutes away by car, even in the busiest months it is entirely worth the drive. The sand is gloriously clean and golden, the sea warm and calm, and the club swcene chic enough for somewhere that hasn't yet hit the big time with the Russians or Milanese. A sun umbrella costs from €15 a day, a bed from €8.50; in August, it's €45 for the combination - all very reasonable when the booking includes a glass of prosecco and fresh fruit. most comfortin of all, you are unlikely to spot a single other guest in this year's Vilebrequins.

Villa Elia in How to Spend It, March 2011 | Think Puglia

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