Meet the owners – NardòSalento Boutique Apartments
Right down south, the heel of Italy’s boot, is Puglia. A more rugged and “real” part of Italy, it’s a region full of wonderful cities like Lecce, Ostuni and Gallipoli, stunning coastline and historic and picturesque towns. One of those is little known Further Afield favourite, Nardò. Spearheading the discovery of this corner of Puglia was Vincent who we met to discover what drew him to this area and what motivated him to create his amazing NardòSalento Boutique Apartments.
Have you always had ties to Nardò?
I had never heard about Puglia nor visited this part of Italy until a Belgian friend of mine (I’m Belgian too) offered me the chance to discover one of the most amazing and authentic regions of Italy – Puglia. After visiting and falling in love with Nardò back in 2009 I now spend my time between Brussels and Nardò. Before that I’ve worked as a communication and business consultant across various fields and spent a lot of time working in marketing and communication agencies. Today I am still a freelance consultant, while embracing volunteer consultancy for not for profit organisations, and also focusing more on hands-on projects connected with tourism development in both Brussels and Nardò.
What was your motivation behind establishing NardòSalento?
It’s pretty straight forward really. I have a deep love of architecture and of breathing new life into old buildings and Nardò offered me the opportunity to indulge both these passions.
Whilst I’d been exposed to Italian culture since the early 80s, through friends, relatives – my nephews are half Italian – and my partner, I have a very old friend to thank for introducing me to Puglia, and in particular Nardò. A long love story led to her discovering Puglia back in the 70’s and when I first came here Nardò reminded me of the 70’s too!
The town was beautiful with many old buildings crying out to be restored, so my passion for architecture and my initial idea of having a second home somewhere south helped focus my search on Nardò. But then an idea came to me to start something new, mixing ingredients and passions like the love for historic buildings, bringing them to life again, decorating and furnishing them, through work with local craftsmen and builders, while integrating and adapting to the local culture. When I found the properties that are now NardòSalento Apartments they needed a huge amount of work as the images below show.
The business has grown organically, with wonderful staff and local collaborators, plus having guests from all of the world makes it all very exciting socially and culturally. I don’t think it’s exaggerating if I say I am part of the few that led the way in terms of promoting Nardò as a destination, something locals are actually very grateful for, as they prove to us warmly each spring when we open the doors of La Corte for the “Corti Aperte” event. It’s a lot of fun.
Tell us a bit about the what’s on offer through you or in the immediate area
You are in Italy, so you’re surrounded by lot’s of architectural gems, archeological areas, Unesco world heritage sites and protected natural areas, like Porto Selvaggio National Park below. But Puglia is more than that. The region is brilliant at organising cultural events, film festivals, food and wine events and next the door town, Gallipoli, organises the gay pride every year.
In terms of personal experiences, how about a boat trip, or a yoga class on demand? Or maybe you prefer a relaxing full body massage or having your hands busy with clay in a ceramic course in Galatina? We can also organise a chef to cook at home for a memorable Italian “cena”. Perhaps a tour in a hot-air balloon? Just ask and we’ll always do our best to help organise experiences that will enhance your stay at Nardòsalento.
Do you have a favorite bar or restaurant nearby?
Lot’s of favorites in Nardò – check out the Further Afield blog to discovering Nardò
But I love Alessandra’s and Giuseppe’s Girone dei Golosi, a trattoria offering reinvented local traditional cuisine with much creativity and excellent ingredients. They are both lovely and passionate. The bar “Il Cardinale” has a unique atmosphere, a fine choice of great beers and wines and excellent tapas with chosen ingredients.
If you’re looking for a bit of culture where do you head to?
The region offers a great choice of film and classical music festivals including “Muse Salentine” which features music from Baroque to contemporary in a really fun summer festival. There’s so much going in terms of local theatre, open air concerts, local museums, temporary exhibits in Nardò and in the beautiful city of Lecce (below).
What’s the best thing about running your business?