Rustic Puglia is owned and run by Claire and Andy James. We bought the property in 2004 and, after saving hard, we finished the renovations in 2008 and moved here that year with a 2 year old, a 6-month old baby and our dog!
We met at London Zoo where Andy was a zoo keeper for 20 years, and soon found we had something in common – a love of travel and sunshine (as well as animals). Over the years the idea formed that it would be possible to have a home in a warmer setting. Once our minds were made up, the question of where was our first dilemma. While we spent time researching areas we sought financial advice on how to fund this new venture, and found ourselves featured in The Times.
A keen diver, Andy took regular diving trips with a friend and 2004 brought them to Puglia. Taken by the countryside strewn with olive trees, the beautiful Adriatic coast and the friendliness of the locals, Andy returned full of hope that this was where our destinies lay. Less than a month later we flew back to view properties and on the last day we found what we were looking for – an old farmhouse and stables set in the Itria Valley.
Our plan was to experience a more sustainable rural life which we would share with guests. The Trullo provided the prefect setting for a villa rental and everyone who stayed enjoyed having the organic kitchen garden to raid for cooking up an Italian feast, collecting eggs from the hens and slowing down the pace to match the rhythm of the countryside.
The land is farmed organically; we harvest the olive trees to produce high-quality, hand made artesan oil, as well as the almonds which we sell to community wholesalers. It’s also sown with a mix of grasses and wildflowers to make hay which is cut, dried and baled in the late spring.
Our youngest was born here and all three go to the local school where they are educated in Italian.