B&B and Beyond: Pianaura Suites, Italy

You may never want to leave this rural hideaway set amid the vineyards of Valpolicella

How lucky for travellers that the owners of this guesthouse are willing to share their dream home in the Valpolicella wine region. They purchased two 17th-century stone houses, connected by an underground tunnel, just two days after first viewing them 20 years ago – and it’s easy to see why. By artfully marrying ancient and modern, they painstakingly restored one of  the tall, tower-like buildings as their home and converted the other to accommodate two guest suites.

The hilltop setting, surrounded by vineyards, is far from the tourist hordes and yet just 20 minutes north of Verona. When Seta, the resident golden retriever, eagerly flops at your feet, you can’t help but feel that you’ve come home.

The gardens, with lots of seating areas overlooking the vines and the artistic interiors, might tempt you to spend all your time lying around and dreaming of owning a home  like this.

The Bed

The two suites, which are accessed by a steep staircase, are spacious, bright and stylish. Each suite’s open-plan design features a four-poster bed, comfy living area and a wooden dining table. Plain, white-washed walls put the eclectic furnishings centre stage. The mix of antiques, flea-market finds and treasures from travel, sits comfortably in the rustic setting. Both suites overlook terraced hillsides, where in summer, plump grapes hold the promise of the velvety red wines of the region. A decanter with local offerings is left out so you can appreciate how good those grapes eventually become.

The first-floor suite is especially light, with a glass door that leads on to an external spiral staircase down to the courtyard in between the two houses. The en-suite is small but modern. The upper room, with its thick timber beams and recessed windows, has a kitchenette. Wine lovers will be pleased to know that this space was once used as a drying room for Amarone grapes. The brilliant-blue bathroom, with a shower designed to mimic a waterfall, is down a steep set of internal stairs.

Vine time: Pianaura’s laid-back sitting room Vine time: Pianaura’s laid-back sitting room

The Breakfast

At the base of the stairs leading to the sleeping areas, a small dining room hosts guests’ breakfasts. In summer, doors are open to the gardens; in winter, candlelight introduces the day rather glamorously. The host asks guests when they would like breakfast and at the appointed hour, locally sourced cheese, hams, breads, cakes, jams and fruit are laid out on the counter top. Even the coffee maker is ready to go – just press the button and the room fills with the aroma of rich espresso. It’s as if the Breakfast Fairy floated through with her wand. 

The Hosts

Mara Pasqualicchio and her husband, Filippo Turco, run Pianura Suites. Mara finds “joy in sharing the beauty of this place” and she makes visitors feel as if they’ve come to stay with old friends. Her excellent command of English (she once lived in Cambridge) makes conversation easy and entertaining. She will design a day for you or just suggest restaurants. Mara is a natural hostess who says that meeting people from other places makes her feel as if she “always seems to be travelling”.

Ziviana Marano di Valpolicella - the local wine region Ziviana Marano di Valpolicella - the local wine region

The Weekend

Although Pianaura feels remote, there is a lot to do within an hour’s drive, including excursions to Verona and the eastern shore of Lake Garda. Lessinia National Park (00 39 045 679 9211; bit.ly/LessNP) has excellent cross-country skiing in winter and hiking in summer.

The zip wire and swings near the waterfalls of Molina Waterfall Park (00 39 045 7720185; www.parcodellecascate.it) are unusual fun. A different type of water play is at the new Aquardens (00 39 045 675 5565; aquardens.it), a spa complex with indoor and outdoor pools in nearby Santa Lucia di Pescantina. And, of course, there are plenty of vineyards at your door.

The Pit stop

One of the best features of dining out here is enjoying the wine at prices far below what you’d pay at home and also the many dishes cooked in Amarone wine. The village of San Rocco is a short drive away on meandering roads, where Antica Osteria Valpolicella (00 39 045 775 5010; anticaosteriavalpolicella.com) serves sumptuous, well-priced meals.

In the autumn, there is a truffle tasting menu. Just down the hill from Pianaura, is Antica Osteria Paverno (00 39 045 683 7199; anticaosteriapaverno.it) where in warm weather, the vine-shrouded terrace requires a long lunch. From Pianaura, you can walk to Antica Trattoria da Bepi  (00 39 045 7755001; anticatrattoria dabepi.it) in Marano for classic dishes of the area.

The Essentials

Pianaura Suites, Via Pianaura 7, Marano di Valpolicella 37020, Verona, Italy (00 39 329 494 4884; pianaura.it). Doubles from €150 (£123), breakfast included. No children under 14.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
i100
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?