Masseria Petrarolo

Set on a 75-acre rural estate in a part of Italy where large properties are becoming a rarity, 17th-century Petrarolo appears, from certain angles, to levitate above a sea of trees. Rather than open a hotel, the owners made the wise decision to rent it out as one of Puglia's most exclusive villas. A four-year restoration - finishing touches were overseen by designer Alexander Waterworth ( Annabel's, Soho House Miami) - has resulted in a pitch-perfect mix of elegant antique furniture, rustic farmhouse finds and weathered Trani flagstones. An abundance of rugs, textiles and candles warm things up, and the walled citrus grove is a delight. In addition, the revamped 1973 Airstream Overlander set in the olive groves makes an inspired hideaway for couples or tortured writers. Staff, including the (recommended) option of a chef, take the pain out of renting and make this nothing less than a very smart villa to share with friends.

White House

When beachwear designer Liza Bruce and artist Nicholas Alvis Vega discovered the ramshackle Lecce seaside suburb of Torre Chianca in the late 1990s, they fell in love with its unpretentious beachcombing charms - and were amazed to pick up a seaside house for a song. They now have two: one is their own home, the other's available for rent to anyone who likes the idea of having a bohemian, dune-side perch, its white interior setting off a world of colourful Uzbek and Kenyan fabrics, Moroccan lamps, Ethiopian chairs and Grottaglie ceramics. This is sand-between-the-toes originality at its best.