Travel notes

The Herald Magazine - - etc TRAVEL -

re­cently had a multi-mil­lion-pound re­vamp and en­joy­ing a morn­ing espresso on your pri­vate bal­cony over­look­ing the Ser­chio Val­ley is a treat in­deed. Those in search of fur­ther re­lax­ation can in­dulge them­selves in the ho­tel’s spa, which of­fers the full range of treat­ments, as well as a sauna, steam­room and in­door pool.

The ho­tel is gain­ing quite a rep­u­ta­tion for its food and the menu at the La Ve­randa restau­rant is alive with sea­sonal lo­cal pro­duce. Meats, fish and veg­eta­bles are cooked with a min­i­mum of fuss, flavoured with herbs grown out­side in the gar­den. And food­ies keen to learn some of the se­crets of good Tus­can cook­ing can en­joy a les­son from one of the chefs. Though not ex­actly what you’d call con­fi­dent in the kitchen, my rich pork and beef ragu, served with fresh pasta made from lo­cal chest­nut flour, was a tri­umph, even if I say so my­self.

A short drive to the lo­cal or­ganic win­ery of­fers an­other tan­ta­lis­ing treat for the taste­buds. Prize-win­ning Podere Con­cori, which sits on a nine-acre site, has been per­fect­ing the art of “slow wine” for 20 years and pro­duces some 15,000 bot­tles a year. Its grapes are picked by lo­cal hands and the re­sult­ing reds and whites are sub­lime, best en­joyed with a sim­ple lunch of lo­cal bread, cheese and cured meats.

As a Scot, you’ll feel par­tic­u­larly wel­come in Barga. But don’t let the Cale­do­nian con­nec­tion dis­tract you from the deeper, more au­then­tic Tus­can de­lights; once ex­pe­ri­enced, they are never to be for­got­ten.

Lunch on the ter­race at the Re­nais­sance Tus­cany Il Ciocco Re­sort and Spa over­look­ing Barga

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