Villa Allegra: Our little Hilltop Shangri-La in Puglia

Less than a week ago, Orna O’Reilly and I left snowy Washington, D.C. behind in the contrail of a KLM Airbus A330 and arrived back to our little Shangri-La — a new home build, named Villa Allegra, that sits atop a hill in Contrada Cinera, a few kilometers outside Ostuni, Puglia — just as an early spring was bursting forth.

Villa Allegra | ©

Our landscaping is now in full swing, thanks to Luigi and Angelo, our agro mentors, along with finalizing with Giuseppe, our plumber, the connection of the pozzo (well) to our cistern, where water, pulled from some 340+ meters below the surface, will provide Villa Allegra with much-needed H20 to irrigate our nearly two-acre parcel, home to 80+ olive trees and a dozen or so fruit trees, along with keeping the swimming pool topped up during the long, hot and very dry summer.


Jet lag now behind us (hopefully), we’re beginning to understand why we pulled up stakes from the Veneto and headed southeast to the sun-kissed Salento, Italy’s stiletto heel, where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas embrace, rosato wines rule, bruschetta is a daily ritual and pastel-colored sunsets are the norm.


Both established and newly planted fruit trees — almond, apricot, cherry, fig, kako mela (persimmon apple), loquat and pear — along with a long row of lavender, have joined forces with the indigenous wildflowers to add bursts of color around our bright-white, humble abode with the Santorini-blue shutters that match the sky.


Life around Villa Allegra is almost too good to be true.


Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images



  1. It makes me happy to read this, Tom. I’m looking forward to seeing the ongoing process of house becoming home and the growth of the vines, trees, and flowers. What a grand adventure.



  2. I’m so happy for both of you, Tom. Your new home built from the ground up is beautiful, and I love following the stories attached to your new life in Puglia with lovely Orna. so happy I had the opportunity to meet her in person 2 years ago in Venice.


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