Do you remember the song “A muso duro” by Pierangelo Bertoli? It is a text that has profoundly marked my adolescence and that has forcefully returned to my mind, crossing the great door of Palazzo Ducale Venturi.
A manor-house in the heart of the village of Minervino di Lecce
Because entering this manor-house in the heart of the village of Minervino di Lecce, which contains five centuries of history, art and culture, I felt like “a warrior without a homeland and without a sword with a foot in the past and a straight and open look in the future”.
Today the dwelling, until recently a ruin and in less than two years completely restored, hosts a 5-star Luxury hotel of the Relais di Charme chain. And if on the outside it has maintained the severe appearance of a fortified house with the drains clearly in evidence, the interiors are embellished with valuable furniture, paintings, important works of art and antiques.
The rooms, starting from the hall to the Ducali Venturi Suite that welcomed us during our weekend, have been renovated under the supervision of the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage. The recovery work has brought to light the star vaults, the original chianca floors and two salt ovens.
Everything leads back to the glorious past of the palace that was the settlement of the Templars and fortress in the Middle Ages before becoming the sumptuous residence of the Dukes Venturi. The visit is accompanied by the young and highly trained General Manager Martina Provenzano, who leads us to discover the “treasures” of the building: from the open-air living room immersed in the centuries-old citrus grove where a well of the XIII century dominates and where the scent of orange blossoms stuns, at the underground and heated indoor pool obtained in the ancient hypogeum oil mill, up to the courtyard, where the large outdoor swimming pool with salt water is set and which can be reached by walking under the pergola “dressed” with beautiful white roses that in this period bloom abundant.
On the same court overlook our suite and also the fully equipped gym and the bar at the service of the guests in the pool who, like us, enjoy the sun and relaxation.
In the large hall an imposing fireplace dominates, but our attention is captured by a ceramic sculpture protected by a glass cube on a wooden chest. Martina explains that it is a very interesting and precious “piece” as one of the rare works of art to depict the great leader Napoleon Bonaparte defeated.
The stories Martina makes us share in move us when she shows us on the first floor an old wooden door set in the wall in front of which she tells us about the love affair between the Duke Venturi and the Abbess: a legend that brings to mind the Nun of Monza of the Promessi sposi by Manzoni. Story goes, in fact, that the Duke had a liaison with the Abbess and to meet her he built an underground tunnel that connected the palace to the monastery.
The relationship went on until the Duke lost his head for a Neapolitan novice. The Abbess, mad with jealousy, for revenge drugged the young girl and had her walled up in the tunnel and forced the Duke to have the door of the alcove walled up, which would be the one in the corridor on the second floor, found during the restoration work.
Thirteen rooms, divided between the two floors of the building connected by an elevator that is not the only modern touch. And here comes the verse of Bertoli’s song that refers to the “straight and open look in the future”. In each room there is a multifunctional smartphone at no additional cost with which you can make free national and international calls and have internet access both inside the hotel and outside, for the duration of your stay. In addition, the supplied Samsung smartphones also offer digital territory guide and hotspot service, supporting up to 5 connected devices.
Also the internet connection is free and the residence is guaranteed accessibility to all through an innovative system of glass walls and movable pressure bars that allow the disabled to enjoy the room they prefer without problems.
But that’s not all: Palazzo Ducale Venturi is the first 5-star luxury hotel in Puglia and among the first in Italy to offer Cryotherapy, a hi-tech treatment that operates at -190 degrees for total body effectiveness in 3 minutes.
But let’s come to the reason why we had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy the large suite with a frescoed vault with scenes of the legend of Saint George and private access to the enchanting heated indoor pool. At Palazzo Ducale Venturi our 4-legged friends are welcome!
And Otto kept us company during our afternoon of relaxing by the pool and also in the moments dedicated to the rich and greedy breakfast and the delicious lunch with Mediterranean fragrances and with the highest quality products prepared by chef Donato Marsella. That like all the exquisite and professional staff made up of 13 people, belongs to this territory, except for Paola, whose accent immediately reveals the Lombard origins, but which is by now Salentine of adoption.
The dream stay at Palazzo Venturi includes parking in a video surveillance area, access to the outdoor pool and gym, bike rental, in-room minibar with drinks and snacks stocked daily, Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel and the beach kit consisting of a beach bag and towels.
To this list of services available free of charge, there are added pay services such as the underground swimming pool, transfer, boat trips, horseback rides, pizzica and cooking courses, massages and spa treatments, yoga classes and laundry service.
The last small but precious gem, then, is reserved for guests at the start: a pencil with the logo of the Palace that holds in a capsule some seeds to be planted once consumed it. And if it is true that those who plant trees live twice, we have already earned the second life!