An aged patina of moss covers the shoulders of the regal lion perched on a raised plinth at the entrance to the garden. Lush green grass expands to fill the meadow which runs northwards towards a sentinel-like line of poplars, dipping and swaying in the breeze. The elegant parkland is private, peaceful, secluded. It’s a little bit like discovering a secret garden, a special place, lost in time. Chairs and benches are scattered in shady spots, inviting me to sit down and think, an opportunity for creativity and writing. This is the perfect location for the Writer’s Retreat, which will start here on Sunday, in just a few days time.
I’m here a few days early to welcome guests. Today our delightful ‘in house’ professional writer Miss Sophfronia Scott arrived fresh from New York’s JFK. Tomorrow we’ll run through the workshop and seminar programme that we have planned for the week. I’ll also be putting the finishing touches to the inspirational sight-seeing trips that are planned, where the history, architecture, art and wonderful food and wine of the Veneto region will be revealed. It’s an exciting time for both of us, writers are flying in from Canada, America, New Zealand, British Isles, Majorca and other corners of Italy. We are looking forward to welcoming them in this beautiful country house hotel, surrounded by a magical garden.
I’m often asked how I select venues for events that I am organising. The answer is, that it’s difficult to find the right places, but when I do find them I know instantly. Villa Margherita, our base for this week is such a place. The hotel is privately owned and managed by the Dal Corso family. They’ve been offering hospitality in Mira Porte, just outside Venice for many years. The quality of the hotel is exceptional. Guests feel as if they are at home in a private country house. There’s a bar serving delicious Italian coffee or a glass of Prosecco, if it’s aperitivo time. Spacious lounge areas include super comfortable sofas, loads of seating and an area that can easily be a meeting space or even a small classroom. Bedrooms are all elegantly furnished, the beds are perfect and the cotton bed sheets are of the highest quality. Bathrooms are all shiny, white marble. Breakfast is served in a light, airy room with an outdoor terrace, perfect for alfresco dining in the summer months.
However, for me, the unique and exceptional aspect of the Villa Margherita is the quality of the welcome. No matter how tense I am from travelling, the minute I arrive at Villa Margherita I feel as if I’m at home. The Dal Corso family are always present, welcoming guests and ensuring that everything is just right. Five minutes away is the family’s second hotel Villa Franceschi, a member of ‘Relais & Chateaux’. The hotel has a superb restaurant run by chef-patron Signor Remigio dal Corso, whilst his wife Signora Valeria supervises every aspect of house-keeping, from flowers in the lounges to the finest quality towels, bathrobes and bed linen. Day to day running of the hotels is in the hands of their sons Alessandro and Dario. In these days of global hotel chains it is becoming increasingly difficult to find really high quality, independent family-run hotels. The Dal Corso family are the exception to the rule, their special blend of hands-on management and a true and genuine welcome are a refreshing change in our increasingly impersonal world. When Alessandro and I chat he always talks about working with friends and I agree with him whole-heartedly, I’m delighted to be holding the ‘Writer’s Retreat’ at the Villa Margherita. I’m sure that our writers will find the setting and grounds as inspiring as I do. Who knows perhaps Villa Margherita is about to be immortalised by a novel of the same name…..
I find it reassuring to know that kindness and generosity have not disappeared from our modern world. Next time you find yourself in the Veneto region book yourself into Villa Margherita or the nearby Villa Franceschi. You won’t regret it, fabulous food, a warm welcome and the splendours of Venice on your doorstep. If you want to be absolutely assured of a super special welcome mention my name when you book. We are friends you see the Dal Corso Family and I, and that’s just the way it is, friendship always comes before business.
- Why not check out the Villa Margherita web site: www.villa-margherita.com
- For more tales from Italy explore this blog further: www.educated-traveller.com
- You can learn more about Sophfronia Scott and her writing at www.sophfronia.com
- For unique tailor-made travel in Italy: www.grand-tourist.com
Written – 5th Sept, 2019
Updated – 18th Sept, 2019