Striking pieces of furniture design and an eclectic range of artworks create a kaleidoscopic experience at this 14th-century palazzo turned design hotel in the Puglian city, Lecce.
Lecce is famed for its baroque architecture, constructed in a warm, golden ‘pietra leccese’ limestone. Palazzo Luce fits elegantly into this mould, having undergone a sensitive renovation courtesy of owner and collector Anna Maria Enselmi, who has filled the palazzo with pieces drawn from her extensive set of 20th-century design and art, including work by major names such as Ettore Sottsass and Marina Abramović.
They appear against a backdrop of period features, including herringbone terracotta flooring, patterned tiles and vaulted rooms. The clash of aesthetics creates a patchwork experience inside the hotel and makes way for some unexpected juxtapositions of styles and eras.
Palazzo Luce offers seven rooms in total, which start at around €873 per night, and each is designed to a different theme. Gio Ponti fans can check into the Blue Ponti or Rossi Ponti suites – which feature original pieces by the designer, as well as colour palettes and furnishings inspired by his work. There’s also the Maria d’Enghien rooms, once inhabited by the Queen of Naples and now filled with hand-painted striped fabric, Ponti pieces and an ‘enigmatic’ ceiling fresco.
Bookworms can sink into Palazzo Luce’s two libraries – stocked with art, photography and fashion books – while those in need of a cold drink can head to the furry stools at the Gamper Bar, named after and designed by Martino Gamper.
Enselmni has curated an impressive collection of experiences for guests, from Puglian cooking lessons to salon-style performances on the terrace over dinner and more classic spa and wellness offerings, such as pilates. Intrepid explorers can also board a boat and retrace the steps of Aeneas and explore coves and stalactite-filled caves along the Puglian coast.
If land is more your thing, Lecce’s maze-like historic streets are brimming with finds, from striking architecture, restaurants and stores to monuments such as the Basilica di Santa Croce, Piazza del Duomo, and the city’s Roman amphitheatre.