Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

Asti, Rapallo & Portofino (Sacla Blogger Trip 2012)

 As a guest of Sacla I expected to see basil growing in the fields and to taste some really good food, what I didn’t expect was to feel like I was a VIP on holidays.
A group of 9 Irish based food writers, bloggers and journalists embarked on what – for me anyway – was a trip of a lifetime.  A whirlwind visit saw us arriving into Milan and journeying to the Sacla headquarters at Asti where lunch awaited us.  Naturally this was made based on a variety of Sacla products and it was made extra special being cooked for us by chefs from the Michelin awarded Ristorante Vittoria.

Chef Massimiliano of Ristorante Vittoria
Chef Massimiliano of Ristorante Vittoria
Orecchiette with Spicy Roasted Pepper Pesto and Ricotto by Vittoria restaurant
One of the several delicious courses cooked at Sacla by the chefs of Ristorante Vittoria

And what does one do on a trip like this after an indulgent lunch?  Well you rest of course!  Perhaps a brief siesta on your four poster bed at Villa Tiboldi or a swim in their magnificent private pool or then again you could go for a gentle stroll and capture images of fruit laden trees, pretty flowers and rolling fields of vines.

one of the residences at Villa Tiboldi
one of the residences at Villa Tiboldi
Residence at Villa Tiboldi
…& another

Pool at Villa Tiboldi

Flowers at Villa Tiboldi
fruit on the trees at villa tiboldi
fruit laden trees at villa tiboldi

With renewed stamina our next activity was to participate in a casual yet professional and informative wine tasting of 8 of Villa Tiboldi‘s Malvira wines. (While spittoons were provided I assure you I did not waste a delicious drop.)
View of rooftops from the rooftop of Villa Tiboldi
grapes at Villa Tiboldi
Wine Tasting Malvira at Villa Tiboldi
Malvira wines at Villa Tiboldi
A quick shower under one of those massive Victorian style shower-heads saw me refreshed and dressing for a delicious al fresco dinner with yet more opportunity to savour the magnificent Malvira wines.  Returning to bed at midnight I went to sleep with a smile of glee as I stretched out on my four poster bed luxuriating in 8 hours of undisturbed, blissful sleep.

My room at Villa Tiboldi
My room at Villa Tiboldi

Attempting to keep things light at breakfast I started off well with the ripest juciest fresh apricot smothered in yoghurt and dusted with granola but resistence was weak and two more visits to the buffet table were mentally justified with the knowledge that such an opportunity would not be presenting itself at home.  To quote a grandmother ’tis either a feast or a famine’ and this was one of those times to feast.
Our first departure of the new day saw us arrive at the farm of the Amateis family to witness the first cut of basil destined for Sacla pesto and to experience the heady high as that fragrance wafted on the barely moving warm air.

First cut of basil for Sacla 2012
First cut of basil for Sacla 2012 using the Amateis brothers’ customised machine

Harvesting basil at Amateis farm for Sacla 201
Returning to the pristine farmyard, a long table heaving with fresh focaccia, cheeses, meats and fruits awaited us for yet another al fresco dining experience, this time in the company of the Amateis brothers who were generous hosts indeed.
If this were your post and I was reading it I think at this stage I might be crying STOP, no more, but brace yourself and read on.
A bus journey saw us weaving coastward until we arrived at the gem that is Rapallo and to a view from a room  at the Excelsior Palace Hotel that yet again left me stuck for words.

Room with a view Palace Excelsior Hotel Rapallo
Room with a view Palace Excelsior Hotel Rapallo

A respite to the pool and a stroll around the town was enjoyed before dressing for dinner.
As if the splendour of Rapallo wasn’t enough we boarded speedboats and followed the coastline stopping off to admire and breathe wistfully at the site of Dolce & Gabanna’s Villa and maybe not so wisfully at Berlusconi’s! (If you want to completely torture yourself click on the D&G link above to view the interior).  Up on lofty heights the famous Hotel Splendio was spied as we made our way in to alight at Portofino.
Manipulating a cobbled street in wedge heels I managed to make my way the short distance from boat to bar still upright where delicious champagne bellinis set the tone for the evening.  Indulging a while in people spotting and nibbling morish bites which could have fortified us for the evening our journey was coming to a close but not yet over.
Bellini time at Portofino
Tasty Tomatoes
Nibbles at Portofino
Our last stop (well if you don’t count the hotel bar) was for a magnificent dinner of simple dishes at restaurant o Magazin.  Pesto pasta came before bream and potatoes with olives and oil followed by tiramisu.
Dinner is served Bream at o Magazin restaurant Portofino
The precious heads of our group of 9 arose early with an average of 3 hours sleep and journeyed very quietly back to the airport for our flight home.
The luxury of indulgence has been replaced with a slow slide back to what is my norm.  The moments that I linger now are to peruse growing cracks over slammed doorframes (teenagers – not me, honest) and I’ve settled once again into this bustling hive with bees that  sporadically sting.
I can dive in every so often though to revisit those stillframe mental images I’ve forever captured of how the other half live.  That lady emerging laden from the Missoni boutique in Portofino and those sharply dressed gentry looking folk strolling casually  or alighting from private yachts, to name a few .  And it may have only been for a few days but yeah baby I was part of that too. La dolce vita.
Til next time,


Irish Author - Dubut romantic fiction novel 'Good Enough' published in 2021. 'Gimme Dinner' a collection of 50 great dinner recipes published in 2022. 'Enjoy' published by Mercier Press in 2016 .'Gimme the Recipe' published in 2012. Work in admin of our Food Safety Consultancy business - Industrial Management Systems with my husband Denis.

13 thoughts on “Asti, Rapallo & Portofino (Sacla Blogger Trip 2012)

  1. It was a lovely break from reality to live like royalty for those 48 hours! The memories will see us through many a bleak rainy day here. 🙂

  2. How the other half live indeed, Sheila! It was a magnificent trip – what a treat to be treated so well. One to remember for a long time to come.

  3. Wow, wow, wow, as I read this I’m planning the next time I might make it to Italy, your trip seems amazing and thankfully Ireland is so more cosmopolitan so for now I’ll munch through my salad of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella accompanied by a glass of fine red!!

  4. My blog triumph this week was to have somebody offer me STG£80 to place a year’s advertising on my blog. I am definitely doing it all wrong.
    Lovely post.

  5. Tks Sheila, as I look out yet again at the wet pavement and rain packed clouds your post gave me a ray of sunshine for a brief few moments. Sounds an absolutely fabulous trip. Good for you!

    1. Thanks Marian, we’ve had a dash of heat here in Cork this morning so still hoping summer’s just about to start here too:)The trip was amazing and a great escape from the norm.

Leave a Reply