As the world grows increasingly citified, an entire travel movement has grown out of the desire to visit the country. Whether it’s because you want to appreciate the slow life, eat hyper-local foods, or just spend five goddamn minutes without a fire engine siren wailing a few blocks away, the allure of visiting less populous regions is as high as ever.
Seriously, who doesn’t want to feel that cool country air on their skin as they take a wander? Who doesn’t want to eat seasonal foods straight from the garden? Who doesn’t dream of SLOWING THE HELL DOWN to read a book and nap and nap and nap? This is the allure of the country hotel. In many ways, these properties are luxurious because you feel time rich, they’re musical because silence is the sweetest song, and they’re sexy because nothing revs a person up like feeling rested.
So make a plan, pick a region, and get ready to still yourself. Seriously, rubbing your stockinged feet together by the hearth while sipping whiskey and reading a good book might be the best trip you ever take.
— Steve Bramucci, Travel Editor
Antica Corte Pallavicina: Parma, Italy
Along the Po River, an hour outside of Parma, Italy, sits the quiet country relais of Antica Corte Pallavicina. Walking the grounds, you’ll be left in awe of how this estate exists within its surrounding environment. Tall-hatted chefs wander the gardens, snipping herbs. The throaty snorts of pigs can be heard away in the distance, down near the river’s edge. Vines climb up the stone walls that surround a series of connected buildings, conjuring Winterfell from Game of Thrones and the sun-drenched visions of Italy seen in Under the Tuscan Sun.
This is the Italian countryside as you’ve always dreamed it — ancient, food-forward, and in-tune with its natural setting.
All that is fine and sweet, of course, but why you really need to know about Antica Corte Pallavicina is the ham. More specifically, culatello. These pear-shaped pork rumps are doused in white wine and cured deep in a musty cellar. So few are produced that the rich and famous reserve theirs more than a year in advance. Massimo Bottura has his name on a few. So does Prince Albert of Monaco. They are wise to do so. Thin, uneven slices of the culatello are sweeter than Prosciutto di Parma and more flavorful than Jamon Iberico. It’s a truly special product, housed a truly special hotel.
Walk the grounds along the banks of the Po, take a cooking class, and eat at the Michelin-starred on-site restaurant. This is country living at its very best — slow and wine-soaked and indulgent as can be.