One is a five star Relais and Chateaux hotel in the rural idyll of Montignoso. The other is a luxury club in an Italianate mansion overlooking the gardens of Buckingham Palace. It’s time to go clubbing with Pasquale Terracciano, the Italian ambassador. We’re off to Il Bottaccio, place of the gathering of the waters. And the great and the good. Ascending the concentric marble staircase, the nine celestial spheres of heaven await a toast to Tuscan excellence.
A gentle breeze floats through the piano nobile ballroom, curtains fluttering out French doors open to the setting sun. Nino Mosca, Executive Chef of Il Bottaccio, is our gastronomic guide for the evening. Villa Mangiacane Winery supplies the Chianti. This 15th century villa is 10 miles from Florence and was built by the Machiavelli family, who presumably had a black sheep relative. Sheep’s cheese infused with wild artichoke comes from Lischeto Farm outside Volterra.
Lischeto Farm also produces extra virgin extra oil. Fabrizio Filippi, President of the Consortium of Tuscan Extra Virgin Oil, explains, “Tuscany is the perfect region for producing excellent quality extra virgin oil thanks to its landscape, climatic and environmental conditions, history and culture. The olive varieties, the cultivation techniques and the harvesting of the olives at the optimum moment all contribute to creating an incomparable product with a distinguished flavour.” Paradiso!