Chic and Charming: where to stay and where to eat in Northern Italy

Northern Italy has much to offer to the adventurous tourist who dares to leave behind the more traditional attractions and venture further afield.

Villa Necchi alla Portalupa, located in Gambolo (PV), for instance, is a good place to fall in love with Vigevano’s Piazza Ducale, to get lost in Pavia's medieval streets, or to quietly enjoy Ticino’s natural preserve. The house was built about 200 years ago, but owes its name, and its architectural style, to the Milanese entrepreneur Vittorio Necchi who restored it in the thirties. Located within Portalupa’s shooting estate, for about 30 years Villa Necchi hosted some of the most important European personalities including members of the Italian royal family. Following Vittorio Necchi’s death in 1975, the villa was closed and forgotten until 2006 when two Milanese entrepreneurs decided to transform it into a tourist resort. A refined restaurant accompanies the four stars stylish hotel and the villa is equipped to host business events and weddings. 

Photos by https://www.villanecchi.it/

 

Holidays abroad are the perfect occasion to make your dreams come true. Have you ever dreamt to live in a castle, surrounded by nobles? If so, do not hesitate to book a room at Castello di Sannazzaro B&B. This castle, located in Giarole (AL), a small village in Monferrato, can surely intrigue those who want to visit vineyards and wineries, or those who want to learn more about Italian goldsmithery, being near Valenza, the city of gold and jewellery. But let’s go back to the castle, built around 1163, the castle has always been owned by the same family who now opens its doors to tourists. Count Sannazzaro himself will arrange your breakfast, guide you around the castle and maybe tell you about the castle’s ghost. Meals can be arranged upon reservation and Castello di Sannazzaro can be booked to organize business events and weddings. 

Photos by http://www.castellosannazzaro.it/

 

Italy is surrounded by the sea and the Italian Riviera can be easily and quickly reached from Milan, by car or train. The round trip could be done in a day, but why not to stay longer and enjoy being pampered at Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita Ligure (GE)? Its story begins in 1903 and, since then, the hotel has never ceased to attract international elites: Guglielmo Marconi, Lawrence Oliver and Viven Leigh are among those who have slept there. The 4 stars superior hotel is still family owned and the property takes great care of its charming garden. Grand Hotel Miramare, a member of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, has direct access to the beach and also offers a heated saltwater swimming pool overlooking the gulf. Two bars, a piano bar, a modern SPA and a high class restaurant complete the offer.  Grand Hotel Miramare can also be chosen as a wedding location, or to host business meetings. 

Photos by http://www.grandhotelmiramare.it/

 

Italian food can vary so much from place to place, let’s discover together three very different restaurants. Our journey, along an imaginary line that goes from North to South, starts in Travaco Siccomario (PV), a fluvial village not too far from Pavia, where, under the river banks hides Usteria di Giugaton. Its dialectal name literally means “the players’ tavern”: in the past, after a long day of work, men used to gather there to play cards and enjoy a glass of red wine. Very little has changed since then: the place is still warm, cozy and rural. Most of the individual dishes listed on the menu are still deeply rooted in the local culinary tradition. Torta di Riso (stir fried risotto), Pisarei e Faso (handmade bread based pasta with beans) and Filetto alla Giugaton (Giugaton Style Fillet Steak) are among the most sought after delicacies. The tavern does not have a website, therefore clients should book by phone, early in advance calling 00139-382571040. The restaurant is closed on Thursday all day, and on Monday for lunch.

 

Oltrepo’ Pavese is that place where the flat lands of Po Valley start to rise, giving birth to the Appennines. This area, scattered with wineries and restaurants, is attracting more and more tourists.  For you, we chose a restaurant with a panoramic view on the hills: Locanda dei Beccaria, in Montu Beccaria (PV). Its founders had been dreaming of owning a restaurant for a long time, and in 1998 their dream came true. Franco Casella and his  partner Luisa are still there, busy in the kitchen , always experimenting new things. Their menu can be defined traditional but modern and follows the rhythm of the season. All their dishes can be easily matched to the most suitable wine thanks to Franco’ skills and a rich wine list. Locanda dei Beccaria offers an  'a la carte' menu or two distinct tasting menus: whatever you choose, save some space for the desserts, they are unforgettable!



 
 
No articles about eating in Northern Italy could be complete without mentioning Chef Massimo Bottura and his Osteria Francescana. Opened 22 years ago, and situated in Modena, in a one century old osteria, in 2018, it ranked n1 in the  XVI edition of World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards. Osteria Francescana has been included in the esteemed 50 Best list since 2009,and has been in the top 5 restaurants for the past 7 years including the number one restaurant in 2016, and again in 2018. Any food lovers travelling around Northern Italy should consider a pilgrimage to Osteria Francescana. Having a meal in this 3 stars Michelin restaurant, could be one of those once in a lifetime experiences. Storytelling enriches the dining experience and the kitchen makes references to art, music and history to provoke emotion, memory and taste. Osteria Francescana offers two different tasting menus or the menu 'a la carte' and it is closed on Sunday and Monday. Due to its popularity and limited spaces (12 tables only), reservations are essential and can be made 3 months in advance.

Photos by https://www.osteriafrancescana.it/it/