Paradiso Dei Gatti

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 3 reviews )

San Martino, Borgo Val Di Taro, Italy, 43043

Guesthouse and vegetarian restaurant in the Apennine mountains between Tuscany and Cinque Terre - see website for directions. Will accommodate vegans with prior notice. Uses locally grown veggies. From spring to the end of September vegetarian and vegan Italian cooking courses are organized. Has Wi-Fi.

Categories: Lacto, Italian, Beer/Wine

3 Reviews

First Review by SnuggleBear

disappointing stay, unhealthy food - Edit

Hi !

Upon your recommendation we booked 2 nights at the Paradiso dei Gatti.

I am sorry to say we were very disappointed and left after one night only as our stomachs would not have resisted a second meal like the dinner we were served.

It was the beginning of October and we were the only guests. Graziamaria, the hostess, was on her own, apparently, and she gave us a polite but rather cold welcome. The room was cold too. The meal was unimaginative and unhealthy (we digested it all night) as it consisted of 4 courses, each of them based on lots of cheese, which we do eat but in reasonable quantities ( Antipasto : pieces of parmesan with honey. Primo : gnocchi with tomato pesto_which contains parmesan. Secondo : fried cheese !!! with a salad of chicory which was so salty we could not eat it. Dolce : a sickly sweet "no-cook" cake of crushed amaretti macaroons mixed with ricotta cheese _again!_ and covered in chocolate). Not a piece of fruit or vegetable in sight, except for that sorry salad, at such a bountiful time as the beginning of autumn. I imagine the lady could not be bothered to cook a proper meal (with vegetables) for 2 guests only, although I had asked by mail for 'funghi porcini' to be on the menu. I think 140 euros for 2 is a lot of money to pay for such a slapdash meal, a sorry excuse for vegetarian cuisine, and such a basic room (poor lighting, sagging bed and armchair, pervading dampness). At breakfast, we were served the dried pieces of bread we had not eaten the night before !!! Plus an obviously shop-bought, poor quality cake.

We had better meals (and vegetarian too) at the motorway restaurant after we left and all along our trip, and more pleasant lodgings at similar prices or even less !

The place is lovely and quiet though _ but really out of the way_ and the cats and one dog were obviously happy and very affectionate, which is important to us. Although there were a few dogs locked up on a terrace, which we heard but could not see, which howled desperately, a rather disturbing fact. This may (or may not) be a paradise for animals, but definitely not for humans. The hosts should really try harder, or maybe the gentleman is the cook and not the lady. In which case they should resist the temptation of accepting a booking when he is not around.

I think the owners are very good at communicating on the Internet, but not so good at cooking real food and making real people feel welcome !

Catherine Schiellein

Pros: quiet location, beautiful landscape, friendly cats

Cons: unimaginative, unhealthy food. No veg ! , very 'rustic' room, cold on arrival, cool welcome

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Paradiso indeed! - Edit

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!

Pros: increible local, fresh food, gorgeous location, warm and friendly owners

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A Great Experience - Edit

I titled this "A Great Experience" because this adventure was more than about the food -- obvious as it is a bed and breakfast located near the Apuan Alps or foothills.
This adorable country bed and breakfast is located in the mountains of greater Borgo val di Taro, Italy and takes about a 15-20 minute drive (mostly vertical!) from the train station. It is run by two animal-loving people who make you feel very welcome.
I will focus on the food for the sake of space and interest. The location of dinner (and breakfast) was in a gorgeous glass dining room that overlooked the low rolling mountains next to us. Grape vines that came in from the outside garden adorned the inside of the dining room.
Our first course were these light, puffed, friend pieces of bread with a strongly lemon hummus. It was a great way to start and a very interesting combination of flavors. Then came the porcini risotto. The porcinis were local and this risotto was the only risotto we had during our stay in Italy but it was excellent and we went through it very quickly. Our main course was a chickpea frittata with onions which had this wild taste. Unfortunately, by this time we were starting to fill up and had trouble making it through our meal with ease! Then came the dessert which was relatively light and was something like a shortbread pie topped with fruit (perhaps elderberries??) preserves on top. This was a great way to end the evening though we were both filled beyond belief.

The next day was our breakfast at Paradiso dei Gatti and it was equally as refreshing. Freshly brewed coffee (with soy milk!) and a variety of light breakfast cakes.

The place is also surrounded with animals including goats, sheep, dogs, horses, chickens, and, of course, cats. I highly suggest going here if you plan on staying anywhere near Parma or are traveling across the country. It was a nice break from the denser cities and want a greater variety of local foods specific to the area (that are vegan or have a veganized approach).

Pros: Beautiful Views, Great Accomodations, Local Foods you can't get anywhere else.

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