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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,