Villa di Piazzano

When I asked Lori what she wanted for her birthday this year she said she’d like to go to Tuscany and visit our friends at the Villa di Piazzano. We’ve been to the Villa many times and always return because to leave the Villa is like leaving relatives behind in Tuscany. Many places can offer a nice room but few can make you feel like family. The Villa itself is a virtual landmark with a long and rich history. The Wimpole family has managed to upgrade and modernize the Villa in tasteful manner adding all the modern amenities you would expect but still maintaining the “Old World” charm. They have recently added a new Sommelier and do wine tastings in the afternoon. We always are sure to dine at least one evening at the Villa with our friend the bubbly Chef Gabriella. Well I can go on forever with our pauses for the Villa but as they say “TRY IT YOU”LL LIKE IT”.



Ristorante Babette, Tuscany, Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

Prior to our visit to Tuscany we had discussed some new restaurants in the area with our local friends Bianca and Enzo. They had mentioned a place had opened but they have not tried it yet.  So prior to leaving Lori decided we are all going to Babette.  Locate in the Casale di Brolio outside the small town of Castiglion Fiorentino. This is remotely located but the roads are good and it’s easy to find.

We arrived at Babette and it was a very quite evening because of the rain and the time of year, Tuscany really starts to slowdown in October.  It’s an attractive place with clean Tuscan appearance.  We started the meal with an amazing amusebouche of foie gras.  It was nice to have four of us dining so we had a chance try many dishes.  Our appetizer was scallops that were perfectly seared and presented with several sauces. I’m not sure how I felt about the Foie and scallop combination.  The Pasta course was Pici a local hand rolled thick spaghetti with Wild Boar ragu its was excellent and on my list of must have again dishes.   I had a really interesting suckling pig in a Chocolate sauce, Lori had a perfectly prepared Sea Bream, Bianca an amazing Monk Fish and Enzo his standard Beef Fillet which was so tender no knife was required.

We did of course save room for desert, this is a good plan!!  The deserts were on par with any Michelin 3 star restaurant.  The presentations were amazing and they tasted even better than they looked.  The Tiramisu was absolutely the best!!  Perhaps my favorite all time desert!

When in Tuscany or even within a 12 hour flight don’t miss a dinner at Babette. The service was excellent and they do speak English well for those that are concerned.. This is truly fine dining in Tuscany.

Ristorante Babette

Presso Casale di Brolio
Località Brolio, 74
52043 Castiglion Fiorentino (Arezzo)

Tel.: 0575 652054
Fax: 0575 652254


Hotel Stella d’Italia, S.Mamette, Italy (Lake Lugano/Cuomo)

[flickrset id=”72157626827880324″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”medium”]

In the small town (one cafe, one bar, one shop,one hotel/restaurant and one horse) of S.Mamette Italy is located the charming family owned and operated INN and restaurant Hotel Stella d’Italia. This hotel has been in the Ortelli family for four generations. Located on the west side of Lake Lugano in Italy  it is easy to find being that there is only one small road on this side of the lake.  If you have never driven in Italy before this road can be exciting… it is very narrow at parts.

The Hotel is located on the lake side so every room has the most amazing view of Lake Lugano. Rooms are nicely decorated and kept in spotless condition.  All the modern conveniences one would expect at a small luxury hotel are present. All of the rooms have balconies so you can sit outside and enjoy the view.  I recommend requesting  a high floor when booking your room.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served daily outdoors weather permitting otherwise indoors. The outdoor area is nestled in the lovely grounds with the spectacular view of the lake.  The view alone would make the restaurant worth visiting however the food is also excellent and the staff can not do enough to please the guests. In fact many of the staff serve royalty in St. Moritz during the winter season when the hotel is closed.  We usually dine in the hotel several times during our stay.  The chef prepares specials on the weekends for dinner so I recommended you don’t miss out on a fine dining experience.  The food preparation and presentation are on par with most fine restaurants however very few can match the ambiance of Hotel Stella.

If you are planning a trip to the Northern Lake Region of Italy don’t miss Hotel Stella d’Italia and please mention the Photogourmet sent you !!

Hotel Stella d’Italia
S.Mamete Valsolda
22010 Lake Lugaano
Phone: +39 0344 68139




[flickrset id=”72157603404247533″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”medium”]

CASTEL DE TRES GIRARD 7, rue de Très Girard 21220 MOREY SAINT DENIS Tel : +33 (0)3 80 34 33 09 Fax : +33 (0)3 80 51 81 92

We where driving around Burgundy one afternoon when we discovered this magnificent B&B and restaurant. The seafood was fresh and prepared to perfection. The chefs presentations where breathtaking. I still can recall the exciting taste of the apple pastry and carrot galace’. It was locate in the heart of Burgundy so you can imagine how good the wine list was. This was truly a fine dining experience in a very romanic setting.


Buttermilk Falls INN, Milton, NY

[flickrset id=”72157623115284064″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”medium”]

Buttermilk Falls INN, Milton, NY

220 North Road, Milton, New York (NY) 12547

In the car escaping the hurricanes a few years ago, we discovered the ButterMilk Falls Inn and SPA.   As you can tell from the photos we were lucky enough to catch the fall foliage in it’s glory.  The Inn offer a nice breakfast as well as a full service SPA.  The main attraction for us, is the beautiful ground and water falls. The Inn is locate on many acres, with a view of the majestic Hudson River.  Rooms at the in vary from small queen size rooms, larger suite and cabins.  Although the service was friendly, they lack some of the finer touches that are present at the more professionally run establishments.  We have visited the in more than once which is Lori’s highest recommendation, if she returns the town should rejoice because this does not happen often.


Palazzo del Capitano

[flickrset id=”72157622360159848″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”medium”]

Located in the center of the small Tuscan town of San Quirico d’Orcia is this charming boutique hotel Palazzo dell Capitano. San Quirico is conveniently located near MONTALCINO, PIENZA, MONTEPULCIANO making it a nice hub for wine tasting. The room we stayed  in was rather large and decorated in a Tuscan fashion. In town, there are two wonderful restaurants (that I will review in a future post) one independently owned and one that is owned by the hotel.  Each morning at the hotel they put out a wonderful breakfast buffet including these awesome baked goods. I recommend after dropping your bags, parking outside of town and walking up the stairs. The Hotel did offer garage parking however it’s only large enough for a SMART car,LOL, I dented the side of our BMW trying to get it in. We both enjoyed our stay at Palazzo del Capitano and would highly recommend it to others.


Dundee Manor B&B, Dundee, Oregon

[flickrset id=”72157621893887116″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”medium”]

The Dundee Manor

8380 NE Worden Hill Rd
Dundee, OR 97115
(503) 554.1945
(888) 262.1133

We visited the Dundee Manor while I was in Boeing school in Seattle. I had the weekends off so Lori and I decided to visit the Vineyards of Dundee in the world famous Willamette Valley. Lori selected the Dundee Manor. She had spoken to Brad on the phone and was convinced this was our kind of place. Some inn keepers run there places for money and other because they love it. Brad and Dave fall into the ladder category. They place has beautiful grounds that are meticulously maintained by the inn keepers. The rooms are all decorated lovely and kept immaculately clean.

Brad so proudly displays his culinary prowess by preparing a wonderful breakfast. They do taste as good as they look. Speaking of breakfast on our first departure I had to leave at 5am to be in school early, Dave got up early and prepared scones and coffee for us to take on the road. Lori immediately informed me not to expect this at home. I just mentioned our first departure we enjoyed ourselves so much we went back the very next weekend.

When we departed the second time, we felt like we were leaving our long lost friends behind and can’t wait to return.

We highly recommend the Dundee Manor to all.


Locanda dell’ Amorosa, Sinalunga, Italy

Le Coccole dell’Amorosa

Nestled in the small village (this means hard to find) of Sinalunga in our favorite region of Italy; Tuscany is Le Coccole dell’Amorosa located in the hotel Locanda dell’ Amorosa. This restaurant is one of the fine dining highlights of the region. We tried to book our reservation well in advance however we were politely declined due to the fact that they give their hotel guests first priority for seating. This is when it’s nice to have some friends in the area. Lori called our Italian friends who know everyone and they made a call or two and we were in. We arrived in the evening and really did not have a chance to enjoy the beautiful grounds of the Inn. Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed and seated at a table tucked away in a quiet corner of the brick arched dining room.

We settled in and selected the wine. I was on a Brunello di Montalcino kick this trip and therefore I ordered one. I don’t recall the producer however I do recall them having a good selection of reasonably priced choices. They graciously presented me with their special house wine Borgo Amorosa as a gift to take home. We really enjoyed it.

The first course choices all sounded so good it’s a good thing we brought Josh my stepson and his guest along so we could order them all and not look like the Tuscan pigs we were about to eat. All the pork and poultry came right out of their own backyard.

All other ingredients are sourced locally so that you are being served only the freshest Tuscan food available. For the first course we had fresh smoked pork that was thinly sliced and served with a fig jelly, a fresh pork pate and fried mozzarella. They all tasted as good as they looked.

I must mention just prior to the first course arriving Lori went to sit in the lobby due to the fact she was not feeling very well but the food was coming so we carried on and ate her meal for her !

The mains were awesome: Sliced Grilled Tuscan Beef, Grilled Tuscan Pork, Roasted Whole Leg of Lamb and a Braised Lamb Shank. With four mains and only three of us eating it’s hard to imagine we had room for dessert but it was a birthday celebration so we pressed on with homemade ice cream and a special birthday cake.

We had a truly fine dining experience in Tuscany. The service was magnificent. While we were enjoying our meal the friendly staff was serving hot tea and tending to Lori.

We will surly return to Le Coccole dell’Amorosa so Lori can order two meals to make up for the one she missed !