One Of Italy's Finest Hotels in one of Italy's finest cars
The middle of February, even in Southern Italy, is perhaps an odd time to debut a new convertible supercar, but Ferrari had faith in their country's weather system and positioned the international media test drive of the new Ferrari Portofino in Puglia, located within the beautiful region of Bari.
Puglia is a southern district of Italy forming the heel of the country's “boot,” as it is known on a map. The area is known for its whitewashed hill towns and traditional stone huts called Trullis and as you drive through the countryside you'll pass by centuries-old farmland and olive groves with access to hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline.
The base for my time with the new Ferrari Portofino was at the sublime Borgo Egnazia Hotel. A 5 star white washed palace of opulence surrounded by manicured olive groves and - today at least - a selection of Ferraris to chose from!
The discovery of Borgo Egnazia was quite unexpected, the surrounding area in February is desolate and quiet as the land and it's few inhabitants wait for the summer to resume and for what I have been told is a manic holiday season for sun seekers flooding to this rustic paradise. But right now - it's blissfully quiet. So when I drove up the discreet driveway the last thing i expected to find was this incredible hotel!
From the outside it looks like a clean cut hotel with an aura of purity thanks to every wall being beautifully white, but within the walls of this mystical hotel is a sprawling complex of foliage filled alley ways and intricate layers of steps, stairs and rooftops. I'm not sure if you've ever played the video game 'Uncharted' but I felt like I was Nathan Drake discovering a lost kingdom!
They say a picture tells a thousand words - so here is why Borgo Egnazia is a 5-star hotel...
As awesome as the hotel is, I had Ferrari's latest supercar - the retractable hard top Portofino - waiting for me and with the intermittent sunshine I needed to make the most of the photo opportunities.
I have lost count of many different shades of Rosso (red) Ferrari has in it's paint shop - however this aptly named Rosso Portofino, it is a triple layer, pearlescent deep cherry red that as the name suggests was developed for and launched on the Ferrari Portofino. Being relatively familiar with Ferrari's option list i can confidently tell you this optional paint will be in excess of £10,000 - having said that, look at the way it transforms the character of the car in different light conditions. It the pigment of magicians!
Driving the Ferrari Portofino along side the Mediterranean is...transformational!
Speaking of transformational - this whole place, the car, the hotel, the ambience - all find a new energy at night. At first glance this may not seem like the destination for a retreat - but dig a little deeper into Puglia and you'll uncover hidden destinations oozing with character and tranquility. Until you start up the Ferrari that is...