Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Staying at Castello Banfi Il Borgo - Italy

I became aware that Castello Banfi Il Borgo existed several years ago due to the preponderance of wines that Banfi makes that can be found in the Houston market. I had googled it before and put it on my mental list of places that I would like to go. When my daughter suddenly requested to change the second leg of our travel plans from northern Spain to Florence and Rome, it was my very first thought even though it isn't located in either city. I quickly booked our 4 day stay.

I hired a driver to pick us up in Florence and bring us to our temporary castle. Upon arrival, we were taken to our suite which featured a spacious bedroom, ample living area and a large, well-appointed bath room. This was pure heaven after our more modest accommodations in Paris. Our castle room was once a home for an entire family when it was built in the 1700's and it, unquestionably, provided us with more than enough room to thoroughly spread out.

We quickly spruced up and headed to the hotel's fine dining restaurant, Sala Dei Grappoli, to try their tasting menu. Our meal was exceptional, though almost too large for us. My favorite course was the scallop while my daughter gushed about the duck.
The menu:

  • Scallop, peas and calamari with 2014 Fontanelle Chardonnay
  • Cinta Senese ravioli on leek cream with 2012 ASKA Bolgheri Rosso
  • Risotto with red onions, salsa Etrusco, truffle and toasted almonds with 2013 Rosso di Montalcino
  • Duck breast with rhubarb, Brunello jus and seasonal vegetables with 2009 Poggio Alle Mura
  • Crunchy chocolate dome with biscuits ice cream and 2014 Rosa Regale
Walking down to see Brunello the donkey and sneak him apples became a part of our routine while we were there. They have a pool and sun deck overlooking the vineyards but it was still too cool for us to enjoy. They have bicycles available for those that like riding the hillsides. Other activities that kept us busy on-site included wandering the vineyards, touring the winery, enjoying in-room massages, spending a fair amount of time at the tasting room, taking a cooking class and trying not to overeat. Breakfast was delicious every morning, we also indulged in a mini tasting menu at the more casual restaurant, La Taverna, and one low key night with room service.  There is also a small glass museum at the hotel which we did peruse on our final morning.

After a week of racing through Paris and staying in cramped quarters, a few days of gentrified wine country living was the perfect relaxing break for us before venturing onto the crowded streets of Rome. My daughter had been doing a study abroad for the three months prior to meeting me in Paris, we had a lot to catch up on.

If I were to go back again (and I hope I do), I would rent a car to venture out more into the surrounding area. Though we enjoyed walking and taking in the scenery, I would have liked to have seen more of the region. I would love to return at a warmer time of year. The weather was gorgeous but it was still a bit chilly for two Texas girls.

Castello Banfi Il Borgo is a highly recommended hotel (and castle) for its fantastic food, wonderful wine, breathtaking scenery, exceptional service and sheer comfort. While my daughter and I seemed to be surrounded by honeymooners, we thought it was an amazing destination for a mother/daughter trip as well. We loved everything about our stay there and the cooking class is a day we will always remember. Thank you Chef Domenico and everyone at Castello Banfi Il Borgo, it was truly phenomenal.

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