Food | Need To Now

One-time-only fabulous feasts

Orient-Express launches a series of Michelin-starred weekends in Italy

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One-time-only fabulous feasts

February 22 2012
Vicki Reeve

If it’s gastronomic gratification you look for in a weekend break, then Italy will naturally be one of the countries at the top of the potential-destinations list. And now it’s proving exceptionally hard to resist, for Orient-Express has come up with a tasty series of gourmet weekends at its five-star hotels in Venice (Hotel Cipriani), Portofino (Hotel Splendido & Splendido Mare), Taormina (Grand Hotel Timeo and Villa Sant’Andrea), Ravello (Hotel Caruso) and Florence (Villa San Michele). The ingredients for each weekend: two nights’ B&B in a junior suite; two dinners cooked by different, Italy-based Michelin-starred chefs; and one specially prepared excursion, exclusive to the location.

If you can’t decide between the locations/chefs, you don’t necessarily have to: the dates do not clash. First up is the famous Cipriani in Venice (first picture, March 17-18), where the chefs in charge will be Filippo Chiappini Dattilo of Piacenza’s one-Michelin-starred Antica Osteria del Teatro, and the three-Michelin-starred chef of Modena’s Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura, who won the prestigious Grand Prix de l’Art de la Cuisine award last year. The exclusive outing for guests here is a guided visit to the Fortuny atelier on Giudecca island – usually closed to the public – where Mariano Fortuny-designed fabrics are still created in the 18th-century weaving mill Bevilacqua.

Next on the itinerary is Portofino’s Hotel Splendido and Splendido Mare, where on April 14-15 the passionate-about-pudding Cerea brothers (three Michelin stars) will cook one night, and Pino Cuttaia (two stars) the next. The day-trip is to Cervera Abbey, where, after a tour, a private harp-and-violin concert will be held in the garden.

Palates (and waistlines) take a break over the summer, then it’s off to Taormina in Sicily (September 29-30), to the Grand Hotel Timeo (second picture) and Villa Sant’Andrea. Pietro Leemann and Heinz Beck take over the kitchens, while a trip to Catania fish market and a puppet-making workshop promise much brio. Ravello follows on October 20-21, and Florence on November 3-4, by which time guests might need to let out their waistbands. But it will be worth it, for they’ll have devoured not only some fabulous dinners, but some amazing sights too.

See also

Orient-Express, Italy