A beautiful Italian farm and a fantastic homemade meal: what more could you ask? The Villa Gaidello, just outside Modena, Italy is our favorite sort of inn: comfortable, full of character, family-owned, moderately priced, completely unpretentious, and serving delicious, lovingly-prepared food.
Lets start with that food. We knew we were in for a treat when we saw the ladies making the meat tortolini through the kitchen window. There is just one set family-style meal served in the farm’s large dining room. We sat down at a table with our places stacked high with plates on pretty hand embroidered linen. The owner, Signora Paolo Bini, came to the table to chat in Italian. First a bottle of sparkling Trebianno wine made on the estate was poured. Antipasti appeared: parma ham, salami, mortadella, pickled onions, marinated artichoke hearts, and these amazing little deep fried puffs! Then we had those handmade pork tortolini in broth. Then a plate of larger tortoloni, ricotta stuffed, with butter and sage leaf. Then a roasted chicken (delicious!!) with roasted potatoes and a little green salad. There was a bottle of red wine…a local San Genovese. Then some deep fried sweet cheese thing—I’m not sure what exactly—with some deep fried zucchini strips. Then a dessert of a sort of chocolate and vanilla puddings on a biscuit, with some candied fruit and whipped cream. And some sort of unlabeled fortified wine with it, and a coffee, and a meringue and a cookie! A fabulous dinner with no effort on our part at all. No one speaks any English here, but they are never-the-less very friendly and chatty! The atmosphere is totally unpretentious, with makes it especially fun; the food is served by a girl in an apron–no tuxedoed waiters here—but it is so fantastic.
The rooms—suites really—in various farm buildings are charming and quirky. We had two bedrooms, two sitting rooms, a kitchen, bath and hall–all for just the two of us. The suite was furnished with funny old things, some very pretty, some rather shabby, but all quite comfortable—rather like staying in a private home. I would recommend a room here on the main farm, rather than in the newer annex down the road. The grounds are beautiful, with trees and gardens lots of lovely details and even a lake full of swans!
I will confess, we discovered this inn through a mention in Travel+Leisure Magazine—but it is very un-Travel+Leisure, and if your favorite hotel is the Ritz-Carlton, it may not be to your taste; but for the rest of us, it is a real find. Dinner for two, and our huge suite that could have easily slept four, plus a tasty breakfast totaled a reasonable €200. Convenient to Modena and Bologna, it is also well worth a special trip.
Mornings the inn is managed by Signora Bini’s American-raised niece, a good time to call if you need to speak English, but fax or e-mail reservations are probably easiest.—Clay Doyle
Written 2002, revisited October, 2006
18 Via Gaidello, Modena