Just a short drive from the chaos of The French Riviera there’s a hidden world of olive groves, pine trees and lush green meadows. The landscape is a tapestry of emerald green parcels, terraced hillsides and small farms. In this verdant landscape, a few miles from the Mediterranean Sea I felt like I’d come home.
La Meridiana is a very special place. A unique, luxury country house hotel, owned and managed by the Segre Family since the late 1970s. Alessandra and Edmondo Segre are the most charming and welcoming of hosts. They welcomed me, Andrewe and Sasha like old friends. As soon as I stepped across the threshold I felt as if I’d come home. The warm welcome isn’t just restricted to humans. Sasha the Cairn Terrier was welcome too. In fact she was playing with Posh, the resident Corgi, within minutes of arriving. Posh is the most sanguine and tranquil of pooches, welcoming visiting canines with a calm almost royal demeanour.
Over a delicious light lunch in ‘Il Bistro’ we were regaled with tales from New York and Italy by Franco, our friendly waiter, who’s been working at La Meridiana for thirty years. It was like being an honoured guest in a private home. We still couldn’t believe that we were only an hour’s drive from Monaco and the hustle and bustle of the Cote d’Azur. I felt totally relaxed for the first time in weeks. Maybe it was the glass of Prosecco with lunch, but no I don’t think so, I think it was the intrinsic calm and serenity of the hotel. After lunch it was time to enjoy some fresh air. I strolled in the grounds under a cobalt blue October sky. The immaculate gardens were filled with roses, I had a feeling of being in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and I half expected the Queen of Hearts to come thundering into view armed with a flamingo.
Alone by the pool I reclined on a comfortable sun lounger and even braved the pool for a quick swim. The scent of herbs hung heavy in the air; rosemary, thyme, sage and basil. The perfumes relaxed and soothed me, and it wasn’t long before I was dreaming and almost certainly snoring gently! After an hour or so the sun began to set in the west and the shadows lengthened. Time to explore the fabulous bedroom. Double doors opened directly onto a private patio with direct access to the garden. Ideal for dog owners. The hotel considerately offers dog beds and an amenity kit for dogs which includes biscuits, bowl and even a doggie blanket. Sasha spotted the dog biscuits immediately and started to unwrap them. She has never received such a splendid doggie welcome – ever!
For the human guests, the bed is huge and super comfortable. The decor is perfect for me, terracotta tiles on the floor, solid timber doors, elegant floral sofas and curtains. The use of natural cottons and linens adds to the sense of peace and well-being. The ambiance is soothing and under-stated. There’s a spacious bathroom and a massive bath tub as well as a separate shower. Divine. The bathroom is filled with sweet smelling soaps, lotions and potions. The toiletries are made be Helleboro, probably the finest organic producer of scents and fragrances in Italy. I first encountered Helleboro in the bathroom of Cipriani in Venice in the 1990s. Always an indication of style and class.
Some friends were joining us for dinner so we made ourselves comfortable in the beautifully furnished lounge, next to a roaring wood fire. Glasses of Prosecco were poured and conversation followed. We were joined for dinner by Alessandra and her son Luigi. I chose a fresh ravioli and salvia (sage) dish which was delicious, fresh and so aromatic. Andrew chose duck which he said was tender and full of flavour. Wines from the local Liguria region flowed.
After an excellent night’s sleep, breakfast was served in the fabulous and quintessentially English ‘Morning Room’. The crockery was all from the ‘Botanic Garden’ range of china by Port Meirion which I love, again it reminded me of home. Of course, dogs were welcome at breakfast and Sasha enjoyed sitting under the table and waiting for little morsels of ham to find their way down to her.
By now Sasha and Posh were firm friends. Andrew and I loved the comfortable environment, the delightful hosts and the knowledge of having discovered a unique and fabulous hotel, where the welcome is truly exceptional. In fact I only agreed to leave having extracted a promise from Andrew that we’d be coming back soon. What the Segre family are offering here in the Ligurian hills is becoming increasingly difficult to find in our homogenised world. Independent hotels require a huge amount of time and effort and money to run them successfully. When I discover such fabulous places, which is not that often, I regard it as my duty to tell my friends and spread the word. A huge thank you to Alessandra, Edmondo and Luigi for a truly unique family welcome at the stunning La Meridiana Resort.
We can’t wait to come back soon – and Sasha says hello too!
The Morning Room at La Meridiana – a delicious combination of fresh fruits, pastries and bacon and eggs if you dare!! http://www.educated-traveller.com
- La Meridiana Resort is located at Garlenda, just inland from Alassio on the Italian Riviera. It is about an hour east of Monaco. La Meridiana Resort
- This coastal region of north-west Italy is Liguria. Also known as La Riviera dei Fiori or ‘Riviera of Flowers’ it borders the Mediterranean Sea to the south. To the north hills and then mountains extend up to the Alps. The region stretches from Ventimiglia to Genova and then on to Portofino.
- Liguria is well known for its agriculture, especially olives, grapes and flowers. The Taggiasca olives are grown locally and are said to be the finest in Italy. Various olive oil producers offer visits and sales of olive oil. Alessandra is happy to arrange an olive oil tasting and frantoio visit for guests.
- Helleboro Botanical Toiletries are made in Italy and are of the highest quality. They have a lovely shop in the mountains, up near the Swiss border, where you can visit and make purchases. Helleboro.it
- Andrew, Sasha and I warmly recommend La Meridiana to anyone who loves Italy and Italian food and wine – strongly recommended. Put it on the list for 2019!
- Sasha the dog has recorded her travels on a variety of occasions. She particularly likes this effort, penned about two years ago. Travels with my Dog – Sasha considers Germany and Austria
- Don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments. For tailor-made travel, and unique itineraries in Italy visit our sister site: www.grand-tourist.com
- Happy travelling!