By Simone Bandini


Let’s discover together with Director Alessandra Wimpole the summer novelties of this historic and fascinating villa – an ancient hunting lodge built in the fifteenth century by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, protected by the Medici family and friend of Pope Leo X – and today a luxurious 5-star hotel in the heart of the Valle dell’Esse, a secret treasure chest on the outskirts of Cortona, on the border between Umbria and Tuscany. Let’s see what are the services open to the local community and for those who do not stay directly in the structure but had the desire to know it and spend ‘moments of forgetfulness’ – so Totò described, together with poet Giacomo Leopardi, happiness.



So let’s start with breakfast, the first convivial moment of the day to which different consideration is given in continental and non-European cultures. It is served, as usual, with a refined buffet totally homemade. The pâtissier chefs, who are three, prepare all their cakes by hand, for a taste and a markedly healthy and genuine effect. Many kaleidoscopic small preparations, made with raw materials of the highest quality, cakes, mini-desserts – and even, we learn, mini crème-caramel and maritozzi with cream!

It is the moment of awakening at the Villa di Piazzano and everyone is full of enthusiasm for the day to come: enchanting sitting with a friend or with the companion of all time in the beautiful garden, formally impeccable, full of traditional and special essences, enjoying pancakes or omelettes, or maybe Eggs Benedict, spreading ecstatic sweet or salted butter (de gustibus), enjoying salads and quiche lorraine, smoked fish such as tuna and salmon, cheeses and special charcuterie.

Among a zephyr that blows barely tangible, butterflies flutter ethereal among the lavenders by the pool while the fruits of the day are placidly collected from the garden of the property.

All this deserves special attention: “The vegetable garden is perfectly integrated into the philosophy of catering both in the composition and cooking itself. The vegetables and flowers we grow are often edible and we make extensive use of them”, Alessandra tells us, recalling her personal passion (and that of her mother) for gardens and traditional and exotic essences”.

It’s lunchtime. You certainly want to eat well but lightly: “We present tasting menus and we are asserting our proposal of fish, in concert with our beloved chef Gabriele Corrias. In the evening, however, the menu is more articulated and it is easier to indulge in a more robust dish or a vintage red wine.

Among the most requested and appreciated signature dishes, from the sea the ‘Lobster Scialatielli’, the ‘Seared scallops on datterino jam, spring onion, soy watermelon and orange‘ while from the land menù the ‘Cooked and raw vegetables, roots and tubers’, the ‘Peppered beef joke, fermented strawberry, yolk and parmesan’ rather than the ‘Smoked duck breast with hay, roasted peppers and red fruits’.

Aperitif time is the suspended time for which the Villa di Piazzano is famous all over the world: “A magical moment. We are in the oldest villa of this last enclave of the Valdichiana in Umbria, in the remote and enchanted Val d’Esse”. The sunset is staged, dramatic, right in front of the historic residence and, in August, a ray of sunshine pierces the two doors. It is the classic moment in which everyone gets up from their seat at the restaurant to admire the sun that plunges over the hills at the limits of the Valdorcia, wanting to bring within themselves a mystical, tangible magic”.

It is therefore absolutely necessary to have a compendium cocktail, chosen from the unusual, dedicated card. We recommend, after our experience, a ‘Mademoiselle‘ (Belvedere Vodka, Limoncello, Passion Fruit Syrup, Shoot Champagne and Orange Bitters) or a ‘Spicy Margarita’ (Mezcal, Cointreau, Agave Syrup, Lime, Chili from Our Garden): magic potions that can guide you to a better perception of what you are experiencing.

But let’s take a step back so as not to forget the homemade ice creams, with natural ingredients such as pistachio, cocoa and almond or the thirst-quenching fruit sorbets. And once the summer is over, at 5.00 pm: “Our leaf teas selected from the ‘Vie del Te’ of Florence, accompanied by cakes and small pastries always strictly home-made”.

“Ours is a place destined for tranquillity and meditation that does not agree with the crowds and trendy parties”, Alessandra specifies – and which, we add, is consecrated to style, elegance and the right demeanour in human relationships – in a delightful gait of small, joyful, events that cadence endless days under the Tuscan sun.



Info: Villa di Piazzano, Loc. Piazzano 7, CP 6, 52044 Cortona (Ar) / Tel. 0575 1743048 / /