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Hotel Castello di Spaltenna, Gaioli in Chianti – Tuscany:
Someone asked me what the best meal I had eaten in Tuscany was, and I still can’t find a sensible answer. We tried a wide range of food. From family restaurants full of Italians on Liberation day to small bars. The food we brought from the local shops and took home to cook was superb too…from the freshest sweetest asparagus to pungent juicy garlic to a fabulous white truffle pasta sauce. And of course some of the best cured meats which you could just buy from the local stores.
We planned to go to Florence on the wettest day of our holiday and diverted mid-trip. It just wasn’t sensible to see one of the most beautiful cities in the world in the pouring rain, apart from the issue of driving on narrow mountain roads through heavy winds and flooding. Instead we ended up in Gaiole in Chianti, a small town in the hills that seemed to have the highest ratio of restaurants to population of the entire region. We were looking for something old and crumbly and saw a little church just up the hill.
When we got there, we found a rather elegant looking hotel too and decided that since it was such a wet and miserable day we’d eat lunch there. The Hotel, Castello di Spaltenna, was apparently a monastry not a castle, but in its transformation to four star hotel, there is no sign of chilly monks and austerity. This room is the second of two dining rooms and used for lunch when the weather is inclement.
The food we were served here was fresh and local but presented perfectly as any fine dining restaurant.
An amuse bouche of truffled spaghetti which was substantial enough to act as a starter!
Perfectly cooked sea-bass, served with Mediterranean vegetables
And finally, a Torte Del Nonna garnished with tiny rosemary flowers
By the time we had finished, the sun had come out and we took a peek at the very pretty gardens. Now, having just been to Daphne’s, I was amazed at just how close the indoor version was to the real thing!
The views were breathtaking too.
Afterwards, the hotel staff recommended we drove a little further up the hill to find the small hamlet of Castello di Gaioli. This is exactly what you read about in the guidebooks…a small village that for the most part looks as if nothing has changed for hundreds of years
This was, perhaps, the prettiest of the rural villages we visited. So, if you are lucky enough to be in Chianti, well, just explore!