Meal times are such an important part of our retreats in Italy. So much happens between us when we sit down and share food together.
The setting for our meals is Donatella's Restaurant or Osteria di Donatella. In Italy, an osteria is a restaurant that serves wine and a simple local menu.
The chef at Fattoria Del Colle is a master of creatively feeding us delicious food, regardless of the changing dietary needs we bring as a group.
I’ve been traveling to Italy to eat for over thirty years, and the food that we have on retreat is some of the best I’ve ever had.
We have the most attentive waiters, who have over the years become like family members to my staff. They explain the region’s local dishes, point out which vegetables came from out of the garden outside, and choose wine from the property’s vineyards that perfectly accompanies every dish.
Rich olive oil that comes straight from the local olive groves is in bottles on the tables. I pour it on my bread and drizzle bits onto my soup and salad. And I buy a bottle to take back home with me from the shop. It’s the perfect retreat souvenir, along with wine of course!
Breakfast is served buffet-style over a longer time window so that you can start the day at your own pace. The spread includes traditional Italian cured meats and local cheese, but they also cook up eggs and other warm dishes just for us.
Of course your morning cappuccino is made fresh to order and you can always add one of the pastry chef’s homemade cookies alongside it, or even pop one or two into a napkin to have later as a snack.
Our lunch style varies on retreat. Sometimes we eat al fresco at the tables just outside the restaurant. Usually the lunch fare is fresh and light, such as bruschetta or a quinoa salad served alongside fresh fruit. Somehow, it’s just right to keep us going for any afternoon activities we might have.
Evening meals are often served family-style where we pass bowls of hot, steaming pasta, hearty Tuscan meat dishes or roasted vegetables from the garden. And even after several courses, we always seem to have room for the scrumptious desserts that follow at the end.
We usually linger at the table, processing the day and belly laughing our way into the night.
Every meal at Osteria di Donatella is a memory all unto itself, one that you can fold up and put in your pocket to bring out and relive in your heart with joy for years to come.