Respond to Review of Paradiso Dei Gatti
Review: This is one of the absolute highlights of my trip to Italy. What a welcome respite from the hustle of the cities. Paradiso dei Gatti is located in the Appenines, but is only an hour away from Florence or the Cinque Terre. It's located up at the top of a mountain, and is lush, cool, and gorgeous. The proprietors kindly picked us up from the train station and whisked us up the mountainside to their lovely retreat. We had the run of the place, and took a long walk on the paths through the woods, meeting the horses, goats, sheep, and cats that are lucky enough to call this place home. I felt completely relaxed and took in the fresh air. We had a nice room with an actual double bed (we had spent several nights on twin beds pushed together so this was much welcome.) While the views and location are stellar, Grazia's dinner stole the show. We were invited into a three-season style room with views of the mountains and grape vines growing along the walls. Grazia, the proprietress and chef, presents incredible dishes that are fresh and inspired by local specialties. She explained each dish as she served it, describing not only what it was, but also its local traditions (for example, the fried breads that children eat on Sundays.) She had no problem accommodating our vegan diet. She also had a local sparkling white wine, another regional specialty. Courses included a starter, deliciously fresh, lemon-infused hummus with fried breads); for the first plate we had a porcini risotto (and apparently the porcini from this region are the best); the main plate included an incredible chickpea/onion frittata, legumes, and vegetable-filled crepes; dessert was a berry (maybe elderberry?) pie/tart that was so light and airy. Wow, she really outdid herself! We didn't expect the breakfast that she laid out for us the next morning. I thought maybe we would have some bread and jam, and instead we walked in to a cake plate filled with a devil's food cake, a chocolate loaf cake with raisins, the remains of the pie from the last night, fresh bread, coffee, tea, and warmed soy milk. I think there was fruit, too, but who needs it when there's all of this chocolate goodness! The proprietor sped us back to the station to make our train, but he was careful to stop to scoot a baby bird out of the road and then slammed on the breaks to avoid hitting some loose puppies (and called the farmer to let him know they were roaming.) I highly recommend you make this place part of your trip!