What a wealthy nobleman built in the eighteenth century from an existing Medieval castle for seven centuries still stands with its original splendor on top of the hills of Roero while it dominates the town of Guarene. The castle went through a redesigning and rebuilding by Count Carlo Giacinto Roero di Guarene who was an important aristocratic figure in Piedmont and also an amateur architect.
Old castles have unique characters and stories that breathe from its walls and grounds. From north to south, Italy is dotted with them and from town to town, the sizes depend on the wealth of the town and settlers in the ancient times. The important ones have been converted to museums and hold the ancient treasures found in the area. But there are also the minor castles with histories of their own, some maintained well by the succession of heirs while some are forgotten while nature slowly takes over it.
Arriving at Porta Caeli Winery from a 4-hour road trip from Istanbul, the hotel and the well-maintained rows of grape vines welcomed our group with a clamoring sight of beautiful modernity that blended with its surroundings. Leaving a very urbanized setting to go through the countryside gave me a different perspective of the country. Turkish countryside is a stark contrast from the vibrancy of Istanbul. It’s like going back in time – pleasant, relaxed and simple.
In this post, I am featuring a very nice discovery in Rabac, Croatia. It’s a small, elegant hotel that’s impeccably clean and with a service that makes you feel right at home. When I went to Rabac, it was the end of June when the summer season hasn’t taken off completely yet. The places were not crowded yet and it was already great to sunbathe without getting too baked but a dip in the water was still too cold for most. For the water to be warmer, I guess we had to wait for a couple more weeks, around mid-July.
When the gates of Relais La Tenuta Del Gallo closed behind me, I swore that I would go back. My lunch there was not enough to completely appreciate the whole place. I was just passing through for lunch after I discovered it in the restaurant list of the Michelin Guide for Amelia. The relais is a little paradise tucked in the middle of the countryside a few kilometers outside the walled town of Amelia. The villa was originally built in the 17th-century and set on a sprawling area of 1,000 square meters of gardens, fields and walking paths with an incredible unobstructed view of the beautiful landscape of Umbria. It was enchanting!
While the sun was rising, we drove through Thrace countryside making our way from Vinero Winery to Arcadia Vineyards on the last day of our Turkish press trip. With 3 hours traveling time in between them (but just about 2 hours from Istanbul), we left Vinero with our boxed breakfasts at half past six in the morning, groggy from a very early start, with the still dark skies looming above us. At around ten, we finally entered Arcadia Vineyards‘ estate as Zeynep Arca Salliel met us with an enthusiastic welcome.
Ask any Roman about Hotel Hassler and he will immediately tell you that it’s the most historical luxurious five-star hotel in Rome. Its guest book boasts a lineup of royalty families, dignitaries, celebrities, and business leaders beginning from its construction in 1893. Its 140 years of history of being one of the greatest gem in hospitality known throughout the world had never left the hands of two great families of hoteliers, the Buchers and the Wirths. At present, President and General Manager Roberto Wirth, descendant of the families oversees Hotel Hassler in keeping the hospitality that his family is known for its timeless grandeur.
Beauty is represented in different ways. Five-star hotels are always lavishly decorated and are so luxurious that you never want to leave them. Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amistà is all of the above and even much more. It’s a contemporary art gallery housed in a 15th century villa created by architect Michele Sanmichele then later completed by distinguished architect Ignazio Pellegrini in the 1700s. A 20,000 square-meter manicured Italian garden surrounds the elegant villa. Byblos, as it is known worldwide as a prominent Italian fashion house, has crossed the borders from fashion to art, hospitality and dining.
Three years have passed since my last visit to La Meridiana Resort in the summer of 2014 but it seems just like yesterday when I last set foot on the grounds of my favorite hotel. Nothing much has changed. The atmosphere is still the same as I remember it to be. Luxurious, welcoming, cozy, professional and closely feels like a home away from home. And now there is Posh, a Pembroke Welsh Corgie whom proprietors Alessandra and Edmondo Segre have fondly added to their family recently. She has taken the role of welcoming all the guests with her perennially smiling face while her four short legs make decisive strides towards her family’s new guests. A long sniff here, a friendly look there, perhaps even a smile can escape from her then you are approved before she goes back to her post at the entrance of the hotel. Welcome to La Meridiana Resort Relais & Chateaux!