Tuscan culinary break

by Jane Smith
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Set amid rolling hills and lush forests, Monsignor Della Casa is a true Italian home away from home. The country resort is located in the bountiful Mugello Valley, widely considered Italy’s capital of all things gourmet, and on the inbound journey our taxi took us through the amber and gold fields belonging to nearby farms.

Arriving late in the morning we were greeted in true Italian style by the smiling staff, somehow all the more genuine with the Tuscan countryside providing a scenic backdrop. We sipped on espressos before heading across the estate to unpack.

Rooms have been converted from centuries-old farmhouses, stables and barns – ours faced east to catch the sunrise in the morning. The exposed trussed ceiling and wrought iron four-poster bed was augmented by traditional Tuscan furniture and a lovely fireplace. For an afternoon snack we ducked into the resort’s wine bar and sampled some of the region’s finest prosciutto and salami, accompanied by local bread, antipasto and a glass of hearty chianti.

The breakfast buffet was a feast of freshly baked breads and cakes, locally sourced fruit and cereals, and of course various sliced meats and cheeses. The kitchen operates a ‘Zero Food Miles’ policy, minimising their carbon footprint and using local produce. There are two pools at the resort: one for families and one just for adults. For those looking to spend their time outdoors, mountain bikes are provided for trails through the local forests, while neighbouring stables lead horseriding excursions and the nearby lake has wind-surfing lessons and hire. We booked into the spa for a couples’ treatment, enjoying a steam bath with scented essences in the Thermarium.

There are Tuscan cooking classes on offer each week by the exceptionally talented chef, whose tips and training will transform your home cooking to a level you may have thought was only attainable in four star kitchens, like the Monsignor Della Casa’s, or by the fabled Italian grandmothers.

Cooking and painting classes In 1503 Giovanni della Casa was born in the Renaissance villa La Casa. Also known as Il Monsignore, the Italian poet and cleric also became an archbishop. In 1555 he was nominated as Secretary of State of the Holy See. However, Il Monsignore is more widely remembered for the prose he wrote rather than his career in the clergy.

His poems and writings gained prominence in their day and his work includes the famous Il Galateo in 1558. Titled A Treatise on Politeness and Delicacy of Manners, it became one of the most popular books of its day. In writing the treatise Il Monsignore wanted to remind his countrymen of the importance of good manners. He felt there was nothing less ridiculous ‘than things that tend to make us more agreeable to our neighbours in society.

The villa has since been transformed into a venue for weddings and meetings, and is part of the Monsignor Della Casa Country Resort & Spa. The resort itself is made up of beautiful villas and suites and the rooms have decorated ceilings, cotto floors, fireplaces and canopied beds.

  • Monsignore’s restaurant offers traditional Tuscan cuisine using seasonal ingredients from the resort’s own gardens – the chef bases the menu on authentic flavours and recipes
  • An exclusive selection of local wines can be enjoyed in the lounges and on the summer terrace service Parking, meeting facilities and local excursions
  • On-site wellness centre, with steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and fitness equipment
  • Two swimming pools, playground area and tennis court, plus a golf course nearby

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