Sunday, May 10, 2015

10 Of The Best Country Hotels In Italy With great Food

At Poggio di Luna in Puglia meals are served on the terrace overlooking the pool and colourful gardens

At Poggio di Luna in Puglia meals are served on the terrace overlooking the pool and colourful gardens

A love of food is synonymous with Italy, and these family-run hotels chosen by Alastair Sawday showcase regional cuisine and local produce as well as being gorgeous places to stay


Poggio di Luna, Peschici, Gargano
Set amid 200-year-old olive and fruit trees, and with views over the Foresta Umbra, this handsome whitewashed building – all staircases, arches and terraces – feels anciently rooted in its spot, but is only 10 years old. Using the farm’s abundant organic produce, it offers gourmet pugliese cuisine – mussels, orecchiette pasta with greens, creamy ricotta – and wine tastings, too. Meals are served on the large terrace overlooking the pool and colourful gardens.
 Doubles from €80 B&B, lunch/dinner by arrangement from €30pp, +39 0884 962731,

Le Marche

agriturismo ramuse dining room

Everything here is produced on the farm or nearby, and owner Paolo’s enthusiasm for his venture is intoxicating. He once used to nip between Italy and London with a precious cargo of truffles for top chefs; since then he’s been busy restoring his grandparents’ old farm and creating this rustic haven.
 Doubles from €60 B&B, dinner by arrangement from €18pp, +39 328 6291859,


Food at Casa Clelia

This agriturismo, once an 11th-century convent, is a working farm: cows peer from sheds, and chickens, geese and sheep bustle. There is a talented local cook and the €35 taster menu offers several delicacies in one meal, perhaps goat’s cheese mousse, delicate spinach crèpes and roast beef on a bed of fennel and orange. Children are welcome, and free to run wild in the gardens, orchards and woodland.
 Doubles from €100 B&B, lunch/dinner from €20pp, +39 0357 99133,


La Locanda del Capitano,
 Chef Giancarlo Polito at La Locanda del Capitano

The fortified village of Montone is closed to traffic, and on one of its steepest alleys is the locanda (inn) of “Captain” Giancarlo Polito – economist, photographer, hotelier and chef. He adores showing off his village, loves talking about food and knows every producer in Umbria. Guests can sample wines and cheeses in Tipico, their on-site osteria, before dinner with a choice of 400 wines. Cooking classes, truffle hunts and visits to wineries are also available.
 Doubles from €100 room-only, dinner from €30pp, cookery courses and truffle hunts from €50pp, +39 075 93 06 521,


Il Rigo

The culinary reputation of Il Rigo has spread far and wide, and host Lorenza often runs cookery demos in the US. At home she runs foodie courses for guests. Convivial meals in the big, beamed dining room are a treat: the menu might include hand-rolled pasta with tomato and chilli, or rabbit with saffron, served with a choice of 60 local wines. Pretty bedrooms are split between Casabianca, the main house with its courtyard of climbing roses, and Poggio Bacoca, former farm labourers’ housing, with panoramic views.
 Doubles from €100 B&B, lunch/dinner by arrangement from €22pp, three-hour cookery courses from €65pp, +39 0577 897 291,

Stuffed peppers at Locanda Casanuova

Casanuova was once a monastery, then an orphanage. Now owners Ulla and Thierry Besançon produce organic wine and olive oil here, and also offer cookery and yoga classes. Fresh menus are chalked up on the board each day; meals, served at large tables under the vines, are happy events, open to the public. Just a short stroll from the house are two self-catering apartments, but B&B rooms are charming with a monastic air. The swimming “pond” is a natural pool surrounded by decking.
 Doubles from €154 half-board or €100 B&B (three-night minimum), dinner from €30pp, +39 0559 500027,


Ca Alfieri al 30

This 1750s house has been revived by Bruno and Fulvia, who provide maps, guides, books galore, a fridge with fresh drinks, and grappa for the asking. It’s great to start the day with a feast of homemade cakes, jams and juices, salumiand cheese, then set off for Bra, headquarters of the Slow Food movement. Foodie tourists descend in October for the White Truffle Fair in nearby Alba.
 Doubles from €130, dinner from €30pp, +39 0173 58909,


Antica Corte Pallavicina

As guests enter the estate’s driveway, ancient breeds of cattle pause in their grazing, and geese and hens shuffle out of the way. This is the home of one of Italy’s most cherished food producers, the Spigarolis, who opened their relaiswith the intention of winning tourists over to the gastronomy of the region. Days can be spent in the kitchen with Massimo, learning how to chop and stir, or out exploring this verdant section of the Po valley on one of the estate’s bikes. In the castle’s famed cellars, thousands of culatello di Zibello cured hams and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses are left to age.
 Doubles from €160 B&B, dinner from €50pp, three-hour cookery courses from €120pp, +39 0524 936539,


Tenuta Cammarana, Ragusa, Sicily

This gorgeous country house, built in 1778, is deep in Sicilian countryside, with Roman mosaics, and beautiful towns and woods within exploring distance. The supper club is an absolute must: Giuseppe makes exquisite dinners using recipes from his aristocratic ancestors, made with ricotta, milk, vegetables and herbs from the farm.
 Doubles from €165 B&B, dining club €60pp, cookery courses from €110pp, +39 0932 616158,


Il Cannito, Capaccio - Paestum, Salerno, Campania, Italy

Down the strada bianca, through the wild maquis, lies Cannito. Once the summer residence of friars, it has been updated and restored. A sundowner by the infinity pool is followed by dinner of, say, pasta with vongole, then sea bass in acqua pazza (tomato, chilli and caper broth – literally “crazy water”) with beautiful views of Capri.
 Doubles from €250 B&B, dinner from €35pp,+39 0828 1962217,
For more information on any of these places or to make a booking,

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