The last rays of sunshine caress the cream-coloured buildings of Borgo Egnazia. Soft music resounds through the narrow streets of what resembles a traditional Apulian village. Walking towards the central square the Piazza, the heart of the Borgo, the music grows louder and, at the point where the buildings give way to the Piazza, we briefly imagine ourselves to be on the set of a film by the Italian director and film maker Federico Fellini. People from all ages have gathered here, glasses in hand, some seated on the chairs at the centre of the square and other on a semi-circular low wall that appears to embrace the Piazza. Everyone has their gaze trained on a group of opera singers who are presenting a fantastic small-scale opera production, without any need for scenery or other decorations. Even our children hold their breath, watching the performers with their mouths open in astonishment.
You don’t need to be an opera lover to intensely enjoy the finale of this fantastic day. Even our arrival at the hotel Borgo Egnazia was a ‘grand’ affair. Located in the robust region of Puglia, at the heel of the proverbial Italian boot, the 5-star hotel appears to materialise out of thin air at the end of a dusty road. Fortunately, we are also near the coast and a refreshing breeze is blowing our way, which provides a welcome relief from the fierce summer heat. In addition to the Borgo area described above, Borgio Egnazia also features a main building called La Corte. When we enter it, we are astounded at the magnificent architecture, combining Mediterranean tradition and modern design. This building hosts many of Borgo Egnazia’s services, including the Due Camini restaurant and the impressive Vair Spa. Although this section caters more to couples than to families, children are welcome here as well.
The Borgo itself, however, with the Piazza as its beating heart, is the highlight of every family holiday. Where else would you for example find a restaurant that is intended exclusively for children? Just out of earshot of the other restaurants at the Borgo that cater to an adult audience you will find a genuine miniature version. Our youngest daughter announces triumphantly: ‘Mums and Dads are not allowed in here!’ That’s no problem for us, because at Trattoria Mia Cucina the finishing touches are just being put on our wood-fired pizzas, from which a delicious aroma is starting to waft in the direction of the big table at which we have just taken a seat. How about learning to prepare these delicious dishes at home after your holiday? Nothing could be easier, because Borgo Egnazia also features a culinary academy that embraces the principles of the ‘slow food’ movement.
Everything at Borgo Egnazia breathes a relaxed, languid and village-like atmosphere. We quickly enter into a conversation with other parents, the staff is friendly without being intrusive, the children have enough space to keep any nuisance to a minimum and, at the same time, it all feels completely natural. A perfect equilibrium.
Apart from a leisurely stroll around the Borgo or lounging around at the pool, you can work off any extra pounds you may have gained on account of the sumptuous meals served here at one of the four tennis courts or the San Domenico Golf Club. After a game of golf or tennis, try one of the many water sports activities offered at Cala Masciola, the Borgo’s private beach located just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Younger children can play to their heart’s content at the Trullalleri Kids Club, where they are invited to participate in countless fun activities such as treasure hunts, face-painting, dancing, theatre play and story-telling. What our children enjoyed most of all were the small animals at the petting zoo, the huge playground and the movie night.
There is also plenty of entertainment for teenagers at the dedicated Fichi d’India Teens Club with its own soccer academy, adventure park, pool games, arts & crafts lessons, pool games and water sports. At Borgo Egnazia you can count yourself lucky if you get a chance to spend even half an hour alone with your children!
There are various accommodations that cater especially to families. The two-storey casetta (little house) is an excellent choice. Your children will be delighted with the children’s room with its bunkbeds, and the roof terrace is also absolutely magnificent. The other rooms at the Borgo are somewhat smaller and therefore better suited for couples with a baby or toddler. Of course, if you really want to pull out all the stops, you can rent one of the deluxe villas equipped with every possible comfort.
Borgo Egnazia’s central location makes it the perfect base to indulge your cultural self and explore the history of the Puglia region. Make sure to visit the authentic fishing villages of Savelletri di Fasano and Polignano a Mare. Despite the large number of tourists visiting these picturesque small villages, where you will spot toothless old grannies knitting on a stool on their doorstep and cats basking in a pool of sunlight, they have both been able to preserve their old-world charm. In the tidal pools and cracks between the rocks Italian families look for clams left by the incoming tide, which can be bought on the village square, cooked to perfection. There we are, the four of us: eating the aromatic shellfish from an ordinary paper bag with a plastic pricker. Enjoying the simple gifts of life!
# Borgo Egnazia is beautifully designed, with a keen eye for detail that is apparent throughout the complex, without it ever becoming kitschy. No matter in which direction you look, everything is perfect. The pure passion in the Borgo’s design is overwhelming.
# Where other hotels tend to skimp with activities for teenagers, the team at Borgo Egnazia has so much to offer that many teenagers even forget to fiddle around with their iPads. Even the most petulant teenager will want to take part in the varied offering of activities.
# Borgo Egnazia is a wonderful holiday destination even in the less popular months (from November to March). Settle down in front of one of the many fireplaces on rainy days and, before you know it, the sun will come out and you will find yourself relaxing in the swimming pool, sheltered from the wind. Chances are that you’ll enjoy a genuinely peaceful holiday!
This destination can be booked through The Leading Hotels of the World.