A Stay at La Foresteria
Perhaps not entirely wine-related, but our stay at Serego Alghieri’s La Foresteria during our visit to Masi couldn’t go without mention.
For all my years dealing with Masi I didn’t realise that there wasn’t really a central focal point for the company per se, beyond their functional offices and the areas seen on our tour which, even then, isn’t available to the general public.
Instead Masi use the Alighieri family’s magnificent estate next door, only about 100 metres away; that is, if you go to Verona looking for the Masi experience then you’ll be deferred to La Foresteria, as its proper name will have it, in order to experience, taste, and enjoy.
But this isn’t a bad thing, In fact it’s a bloody amazing thing – La Foresteria is an idyllic, rambling estate accessed via a pretty cypress tree-lined avenue and consisting of a number of buildings of varying ages, with eight unique apartments that hold a varying number of people and contain kitchenettes and living rooms, all named after native local grape varieties of course. Ours was Corvina.
The estate was renovated in what they call “the aristocratic country house style,” which means, baldly, that the décor of the accommodation on first sight looks quite meagre and basic, but very quickly becomes very homely and comfortable. Precisely the style they were going for I’m sure.
As well as guest accommodation La Foresteria also has conference and banqueting facilities, regularly holding weddings and product launches, as well as a cookery school. I even stumbled across the traditional drying lofts, more exposed to the air in the old-school style rather than the more controlled environment of the nearby Masi winery, and what’s better is that they were actually fully-functioning drying lofts and not something superficial for the benefit of guests.
The estate wraps itself around a couple of picturesque courtyards, the more beautiful of the two containing a fountain and leading onto a small manicured garden. The whole complex opened out onto a gentle slope overlooking the vineyards of Valpolicella, with cypress trees punctuating the distant haze. To say that La Foresteria is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in the world sounds like hyperbole, but it really is.
It’s here that Masi also have their ‘cellar door’ – that is wine shop and tasting room, where pretty much all of Masi’s wines can be tasted and bought, as well as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, grappa di Amarone (a spirit that really wasn’t to my taste), the Veronese speciality Vialone Nano rice, acacia honey, chestnut spread (another local speciality) and cherry jam – all served up by genial staff.
We bought ourselves a chilled bottle of their Conte Federico Brut 2009 sparkling wine, made of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and had an impromptu alfresco picnic of bread, cheese and meats sourced from a nearby supermarket, settling ourselves out the back of the estate which, typically, looked out onto a fallow field overshadowed by a old Italian hilltop village. I’m really struggling to find synonyms for ‘picturesque here,’ but I’m sure you get the idea.
So without labouring the point I couldn’t recommend La Foresteria more highly. Located only 20kms or so north of Verona it’s a must if you’re in that part of the country. Believe me: you won’t be disappointed.