I felt my shoulders drop as our taxi entered the grounds of Palazzo di Varignana. The luxurious greenery and panorama of the Po Valley washed over me like the nice and cozy waters of a Jacuzzi I quickly hoped to be wallowing in. I’d booked an extended weekend on the plush Italian resort and spa after deciding it could take greater than a goblet of wine on a Friday evening to dial down the stress ranges induced by the each day grind. I made a decision to go for full-on R&R in Italy, the place I might entry the killer combo of posh pampering, cypress-filled vistas and pasta like I think about my Italian nice grand-nonna used to make.
Palazzo di Varignana is a sleek retreat within the hills outdoors Bologna. The area, Emilia-Romagna, hasn’t attracted the eye of British vacationers trying to find the Chiantishire expertise, nevertheless it’s their oversight: Emilia-Romagna possesses most of the charms of Tuscany and Umbria, like historic cities and velvety greenery sufficient to conjure up photos of Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love.
Extra pertinently, its centrepiece is town of Bologna, Italy’s meals hub, generally known as “Il Grasso” (“The Fats”) attributable to its standing because the nation’s gastro-capital. Simply half an hour by automotive from Bologna, the Palazzo’s delicacies options one of the best of Bolognese and regional meals. For starters, the resort’s distinctive charcuterie of mortadella, prosciutto and fallow deer bresaola comes straight from Bologna’s celebrated butcher, Macelleria Zivieri.
Why come right here
We’ll return to the meals later, however again to the resort… It’s an upscale oasis located on a 30-hectare property, a contemporary mini-village organized sympathetically round its centrepiece, the fantastic Palazzo Bentivoglio. The 18th-century citadel dominates the panorama and, like the remainder of the resort, instructions a sweeping view of the valley all the best way to the Alps.
The quiet of the resort was instantly noticeable, and welcome for this metropolis slicker. The lodging is unfold out over seven blocks in-built conventional fashion that mix into the panorama reasonably than dominate it. It presents 146 sizeable rooms from commonplace to presidential suite.
Our room was in The Terrace, two buildings constructed into the facet of a hill to maximise use of the terrain. I used to be impressed on the dimension of the room and its wow issue due to excessive ceilings and refreshingly minimalist décor that combined wooden and impartial colors. The mattress was giant and the lighting hi-tech however really easy that even a Child Boomer like me might determine it out. Flooring-to-ceiling home windows with a sliding door flooded the room with pure mild. A selected delight was sitting on our non-public terrace within the early night watching swifts dart manically across the grounds because the solar sank and the valley reworked right into a carpet of lights.
The white marble lavatory contained a double sink in addition to a huge walk-in rainfall bathe that would match a household of 4. Better of all, heavy doorways and thick partitions prevented noise from reaching our luxe oasis, enveloping me within the peace I had come for.
Residents of The Terrace are doubly fortunate in that they’ve the bonus of not one, however two non-public swimming pools, one at every finish, providing an antidote to the busier communal pool complicated. We oscillated between them, relying on our longing for quiet. I most well-liked the relative bustle of the principle pool space and the lure of its bar serving scrumptious mozzarella salads for lunch. In a comparatively compact area, the pool space cleverly match 5 outside swimming pools, together with a lap pool, an infinity pool and a big pool. I took up residence within the Jacuzzi pool, relishing the calming impact of its bubbly heat waters, rising from time to time to order a glass of prosecco or a gelato from the bar. Solar loungers and umbrellas have been plentiful so there was no want for the claiming of territory with seaside towels. It felt like a really convivial communal area.
When the solar scorched us, we headed to the indoor spa, compact however elegant, with a Jacuzzi pool linked to a small outside pool. A collection of steam rooms, Kneipp tub, bio-sauna, Finnish sauna and Jacuzzis present all of the water-based wellness you could possibly ask for.
Like many upmarket Italian resorts, the spa presents detox and weight reduction regimes, however they wouldn’t do for a self-indulgent pasta lover like me. I did deal with myself to a calming therapeutic massage with Irene, whose skilled palms kneaded away the strain in my again and shoulders. On one other afternoon we loved the superb Ars Vivendi Non-public Spa, a two-hour expertise that cherry picks one of the best spa traditions. The primary room is a non-public hammam with mini-pool and steam room, the second an Ofuru, a piping scorching Japanese scorching tub in darkish, cosy surrounds. After an hour in every, we have been handled to a standard Japanese tea ceremony. Other than the second I mistakenly put a menthol physique scrub on my face that briefly blinded me when it migrated into my eyes, the expertise was an uber-relaxing sojourn.
Consuming and ingesting
Meals is among the Palazzo’s primary points of interest, with three eating places delivering distinctive culinary choices. Il Grifone, situated within the Palazzo, is a haven of high-quality eating. The principle restaurant, Aurevo, on a terrace overlooking the pool and valley, presents a mixture of basic Italian dishes (strive the Bolognese cutlet) and fusion meals, utilizing a wealth of native elements like Varignana wildflower honey and mortadella.
Make sure that to dine no less than one evening at Le Marzoline, the resort’s conventional trattoria a brief stroll from the residences. It places a spin on conventional Italian fare like chilly roast beef served with creamed parmesan reasonably than horseradish that my eating companion swooned about. I used to be floored by the ravioli pasta crammed with buffala ricotta cheese and fava beans, though bemused by my first course. It was fritto misto, a typical Emilia-Romagna dish of tempura fried greens, which have been beautiful, till I obtained to the deep-fried cubes of candy cream, which was like dessert delivered two programs too quickly. However it was a studying expertise, loved within the uber-Italian setting of a terrace overlooking olive groves.
What to do
The Palazzo’s 350-hectare property produces a lot of its personal elements together with olive oil and wine, which we sampled in a enjoyable tasting session on the property’s enoteca. The intricacies of olive oil’s subtler flavours went over our heads; we have been on safer floor with the property’s wonderful sangiovese and chardonnay, though essentially the most nice shock was the glowing wine, produced by the methode champagnoise and a implausible different to the ever-present prosecco.
After a number of days’ indulgent gliding between swimming pools, spa and eating places, I felt able to return to the city bustle. The tranquillity and luxurious of this elegant resort had exerted its calm on me. Name it the Varignana impact.
Palazzo di Varignana presents rooms from €230 (£194) per evening, based mostly on two adults sharing on a B&B foundation; palazzodivarignana.com