When you think of accommodations in Italy, does a castle come to mind? My idea of castle lodging is a fairytale building perched in the Bavarian hills of Germany, perhaps with snow-capped mountains in the background. I never expected to be sleeping in an Italian medieval castle dating from the 1200’s. But that’s what Alan and I experienced on a baby boomer road trip through northern Italy when we traveled with Claudio Fontana of A La Carte Italy Tours.
La Tavola Rotonda sits next to a busy road in the small village of Chiavenna Landi in the Italian municipality of Cortemaggiore close to the major cities of Parma, Milan and Bologna. Claudio planned our two-day stay here with the women of our traveling group in mind, I just know it. You see, these were our accommodations during the “baby boomer aventure in Ferrari land” portion of the trip. While Alan, and our travel companion Jack, shift gears in those sleek red cars, speeding along the streets of Maranello; Sue (Jack’s wife) and I stand on the sidewalk—and watch. Oh, there is that visit to the balsamic vinegar estate, but that’s not exactly like driving a Ferrari. It seems only right that we spend our nights behind the thick stone walls of an authentic Italian castle-fortress.
After a hard day of touring the gallery of sports machines (one can hardly call them cars) at the Lamborghini factory, walking the assembly line where Ducati motorbikes come to life and the before mentioned watching from the sidelines while the boys had Ferrari car fun, I have earned a long soak in a hot tub. Lucky for me, the double whirlpool tub in our junior suite offers relaxation befitting a boomer travel princess. The large room also includes a seating area, desk, flat panel TV, mini-bar and my favorite Italian bathroom accoutrement—heated towel racks. The small windows, covered by iron grates, make me feel as if I’m locked away in a castle tower.
La Tavola Rotonda offers two dining choices. For our first night, Alan, Claudio and I dine in the castle hotel’s elegant restaurant for a fine Italian dinner. On the second evening, our group enjoys pizza from the wood-fired stove in the Pizzeria. Room rates also include breakfast in the Pizzeria where local salamis, breads and oh-so-tempting pastries fill the buffet table.
During our visit, cool fall weather prevents us from sitting at the wrought-iron tables in the inner courtyard. Outside the walls, farmer’s fields stand dormant, waiting for spring. I can only imagine a future trip when the fields are green and summer’s scent fills the air.
Do you have tips for visiting Italy’s Parma region? Or, have you stayed at La Tavola Rotonda? Post a comment to tell us about your experience. Alan and I will return to one day.