We chose Pitigliano for a day trip as the end point of an 8 day trip through Tuscany to visit the ‘lesser’ towns – having spent time in Florence, Sienna and San Gimi on previous visits. It’s all true what you read about Pitigliano – it’s a striking looking town built right on top of a tufa rock cliff and very beautiful – especially from one of the high vantage points where you can see it in all its glory. However, once inside the town walls it’s quickly apparent that this place is a bit of a poor cousin compared to architecturally rich towns like Arezzo and Volterra, and also lacks decent restaurants (Hostaria Le Coccettio aside), and coffee shops; at 3 pm we couldn’t even find a proper patisserie for coffee and cake.
So, thankfully Locanda Ilune exists – right there on the edge of town – to provide a travelling experience which is unparalleled (and frankly unexpected) in this underdeveloped area. Everything that other writers have said is all true – the farmhouse is beautiful, the gardens and grounds are perfectly kept and picture perfect, the rooms are delightfully decorated with style and whimsy, and Giovanni (aka Johnny) are amazing hosts.
But what I wasn’t expecting, perhaps because it was downplayed by other reviewers, was the absolutely sensational dinner experience. Having read that Johnny & Susanna sometimes put dinner on for their guests I did ask on email when I made the reservation, and he replied to say maybe / maybe not – check back closer to the time. I called the day before we arrived and he said yes, they would do dinner for us and their other guests for the night we arrived.
Due to an accident, the other guests couldn’t make it that day, so it was only the 2 of us for dinner. We felt a bit uncomfortable putting our hosts to so much trouble just for two, but they were very gracious and said it was all prepared and ready anyway, and not to worry – most welcome. We started at 8pm with a little chilled wine in the garden and then inside for dinner at a beautifully decorated private table. Many others have commented on the attention to detail you’ll experience here, and they are all correct – from the freshly cut roses to the eclectic plates, cups and glasses, candle arrangements, condiments, shakers, grinders, napkins – and the list goes on indefinitely…
Giovanni sorts out the wine; you choose a bottle from his list (they range from a modest 8 Euro through to 40 E for the top shelf stuff) - and he’ll help you decide. He also makes the olives and the olive oil (from the grove outside), and Susanna does all the cooking. It’s a perfect combination. We started with some amuse bouche of crostini, grilled marinated artichokes (yes, also from the garden), hot herby olives, delicious flatbreads, and then a fabulous pate with apples. This was just the beginning…
A sensational homemade pasta followed - rich with fresh basil and parmesan – and then an incredible beef casserole made with orange and cinnamon and baked a deep dark brown, served with fresh spinach. Having had to activate the second stomach long before, it was just one more push to the finish to complete with a delicious little chocolate cake and a small sip of grappa. Amazing – and all yours for 40 Euro per person. This was far and away the best meal we had anywhere in Italy, and just a special privilege to experience this in the home of such an extraordinarily skilled and passionate couple. Our only other experience like this was at Klein Oliphants Hoek in South Africa many years ago, and it is a very rare thing to be cherished.
Breakfast followed a similar theme – everything fresh and from the garden (with the exception of the All Bran!), and served continental style which suited us just fine after the richness of the night before. A bowl of fresh strawberries, a few prunes, a little granola and yoghurt and some coffee was all we needed. No ham, salami, cheese or eggs required, although I think if you wanted that you could ask for it. We were just grateful for what we were given.
Fond farewells were accompanied by a pot of homemade strawberry jam and a photo of our awesome hosts to keep the happy memory alive...this was a very special experience indeed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This small and quaint farmhouse, nestled in the Tuscan hills and protected by an ancient oak tree, has been remodelled with love and care from an old house built in tufa rock. Welcoming and warm, this farmhouse offers 6 well-appointed rooms, all with private bathroom, and furnished in the traditional Tuscan style. ... more less
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