During tours of italy, we find that it is a good idea to take time out, to cast the guidebooks aside and to relax for a night or two in the country.
LOCANDA IL RIGOLETTO occupies an 18th-century villa in the little town of Reggiolo, 20 miles north of Modena. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this exquisite hideaway has just four attractive and luxurious rooms. We were instantly beguiled by our suite, with its massive chestnut beams, oak parquet floor, romantic four-poster bed, painted antique armoire and Jacuzzi tub.
Its restaurant draws food lovers from all over Italy to sample the outstanding cooking of chef Giovanni D’Amato. And what a meal we enjoyed that evening! It began with an addictive Parmesan risotto with Lambrusco wine sauce and continued with sea bass in a crust of squid’s ink bread, with mozzarella milk, tomato oil and capers. A memorable cheese tray was followed by a wonderful grand finale of miniature desserts. 93 Junior Suite, $$; Suite, $$ www.ilrigoletto.it
We also spent a night at the noted LOCANDA SOLAROLA, just outside the pretty country town of Castel Guelfo di Bologna, 20 miles east of Bologna. Unfortunately, this much-lauded place was a severe disappointment. After a terse welcome, we were let down by a jaded room with an uncomfortable bed. Though highly rated by others, we found the cooking of chef Roy Cacares to be underwhelming and egregiously overpriced. His version of pasta fagioli, the great Italian classic of pasta with beans, turned out to be a silly giant ravioli filled with tasteless black bean paste. The stuffy service was equally indigestible.
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