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Brisighella: Relais Torre Pratesi

Via Cavina, 11, Phone: 0546.84545;Fax: 0546.84558

Reviewed by: Wendy and Rob from CA, review #1038

When: October 2004

A 16th century tower awaits you in the hills above Brisighella in the Romagna side of the E/R region. The grounds, views and food are all truly spectacular.

Our destination is Relais Torre Pratesi which uses a tower that was built around 1510 as the body of the Relais, and the farmhouse for their suites. But first we must find it. Coming in on the A14 from Tuscany we drove through the medieval village of Brisighella, making a couple of driving passes to see the town, which has many things of interest, this is a place to get out and walk, we will be back ... Finally finding the correct road to the right between Brisighella and Fognano we head up into the high hills. The road twisted and turned itself until we finally came to the lovely long drive that would take us up to...

The TOWER and The Raccagnis, the owners Letty and Nerio. Letty was there to great us, along with Arturo the rooster and their wonderful and loving dogs. Nerio would be there in just a short time.

We had two difficulties right off the bat, but they were both of our doing, really. The first was Letty speaks NO English and the second was that our room that we had reserved - ‘The Room of the Falcon’- was on the top floor of the Tower, which was the fourth floor. The elevator only goes to the third floor leaving a really neat but very tight spiral staircase to reach the top landing - ours. (We didn't have as much luggage as we usually do, but enough ... too much by Letty’s reaction. Please remember we are traveling in Italy for almost three weeks and are heading toward Venice for a twelve night cruise with all the formal and semi formal evenings-hence the luggage.) I started to unload stuff thinking that they might store our extra bags for the four nights we would be staying, but the girl that worked there started to load the elevator and took our bags to the third floor ‘Room of the Pheasant’. Soon after Nerio arrived and suggested that we take one of their ’suites’ in the extension which he showed us. They are lovely, you walk into the living room with fireplace and dining area and then you move into bedroom area and there is a full and lovely bathroom. The blinds open up so that your views are vast, looking over the terrain, but we declined.

Nerio understood and said the top Tower room (ours) was very romantic. And it was, it was also why we chose to stay here. To sleep in a room at the top of an ancient tower-oh yeah! They were kind enough to let us keep our bags in the room on the third level, so we climbed the spiral staircase with our carry-on bags to an absolutely wonderful HUGE room with the king size platform bed set in the middle of the room and two red leather club chairs to the side. All along the perimeter of the room there is a shelf.

Behind the bed on the shelf sits a caffe machine and two espresso cups. We kept our carry-on bags on the shelf underneath the tiny windows-that probably started life as archers‘ ports. There was a standing full length mirror in another corner, and on one wall a desk with a few magazines about the region of Emilia Romanga and a dish filled with candy and cookies.

The ceiling is fabulous. Huge and I do mean Huge beams start from the outside walls and come to a peaked point in the middle. (Check our ‘Through the Eyes of Wendy-Italy-2004’ and ‘Through the Eyes of Rob#2-Tuscany/E-R/Venice-2004’ photo albums for images of said ceiling and the room.) (The ceiling of the room holding our bags was a flat surface.)

There was a closet with a satellite TV and a ‘frigobar’-complimentary.

The bathroom was beyond spacious. Two large rooms both with gleaming white tile and wall mounted heaters that were very effective. The first room has the sink/counter with shelves to the right and a table with mirror. There is a ledge/shelf around the two walls of this room, then in the ‘bathroom’ there is a toilet, bidet and bathtub/shower.

From every angle there are views through the ‘archers-port’ windows looking down and over gardens where tables and chairs are set about, orchards, walkways to the pool and swimming pool with thermal water hydro massage.

Nerio produces wines, grappas and olive oil from the fruit of his land and Letty creates jams, preserves, olives, and sauces from the same land and crops. She uses these in her cooking for their restaurant -- which happens to be a member of Buon Ricordo. Nerio’s wines are served throughout the four course dinners.

At our first dinner we sat by the enormous fireplace in the main dining room and had food that just burst with flavor with each bite. The evening was mild and so the fireplace was not burning, though in a few days time they did set the fire and had it burning full time. Only one other table was going to be occupied that evening, other than that we had the room to ourselves. There are five tables in this room and in the other room there is one very long table. Our second dinner there was very romantic having the place all to ourselves.

Morning breakfast is also served in this room. The breakfast is extensive, starting with a bowl of mixed fruit, fruit juice, coffee as you prefer it. There are crustless toasted cheese sandwiches, a farm-fresh poached egg atop a crostini type toast, meats, cheeses, sweet breads with Letty’s own jams and cookies!

Because this is also a thriving ‘farm’ there are many animals around, the one who makes himself most known is Arturo the rooster. Every morning he makes his rounds around the entire tower letting all know the sun is going to rise in a while. He makes a very good alarm clock.

There is a lot to see in the surrounding area and Torre Pratesi is a real jewel which we highly recommend.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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