After a let down, we were given excellent redress: We arrived after a long day's drive to find that the rooms we had booked months in advance via booking.com were not available. Apparently the management had never received the booking from the internet agency. Whatever, we had to drive back about 20 miles to another impressive castle where the Antica Corte management had offered to find alternative accomodation for us, though - I have to guess - probably not quite as nice and original as their own. And the other place only did breakfast.
So we decided to come back for a slow food dinner at Antica Corte Pallavicina fter having taken a shower. Though this meant having to face another two 15 minute drives (and little wine for the driver). When we arrived, we were shown around the truely impressive cellars (for the best culetto ham and parmigiano cheese rather than wine). That made up for some of the disappointment. And we were also shown the kitchen. High time for dinner, which was truely excellent. To be honest, we did hope to be given a free apperitivo or something to make up for the troubles we had been through. But when I eventually asked for the bill, I was completely bowled over: They insisted the entire dinner was free for us. If there was any way to make up for the huge disappointment at the start of the evening, this was it. We were truely impressed by this generous hospitality and we vowed to come back another time and to book directly with the hotel.