In Italy, Magari Tours

Even though we are in late April, and we were not really at the highest altitude at the end of the Imagna Valley, it has snowed overnight and had settled on the slopes above the village. Today was the more leisurely of the two main days on our shortened version of the ‘Essence of Lombardy’ tour, staying within the Imgana Valley.

The first stop was the Cornabusa Sanctuary, a cave church located halfway up the mountainside. You can’t see the cave upon the approach, just the sanctuary which sits next door, where you walk around (although it’s possible to take the pilgrimage route and walk up from the bottom of the hill – although Magari take the easier route and take the coach up to the car park). The entrance looks like any other cave from the outside, but when you enter it has all the functions of a normal functioning church, but with the added belief that the water within the cave has healing powers. There are several letters of thanks as well as gifts from those who have been healed.

Cornabusa sanctuary

Cornabusa Sanctuary

Upstairs in the restaurant, we had the opportunity to taste some local cheeses, accompanied by local wines and homemade chutneys. Located in the Sanctuary it afforded amazing views over the Imagna Valley – although with the weather being a little inclement, we only really got half a view.

For lunch, we headed to a local trattoria, Antica Locanda Roncaglia on the other side of the valley. It’s the sort of place you would never realise existed, located between what looked like two houses outside of the village. Our guide Wendy said that it was popular with walkers in the area (although she did say that walking/hiking in Italy is somewhat of a new pastime, as the Italians had never done it themselves).

Sara at Antica Locanda Roncaglia

Sara at Antica Locanda Roncaglia

We couldn’t sit outside in the delightful courtyard, but inside was equally lovely, and certainly gave the impression that you were eating in a farmhouse. They take great pride in using local ingredients, with local traditional recipes which are centuries old. It was certainly a highlight, with some lovely dishes.

Antica Locanda Roncaglia

Antica Locanda Roncaglia

As this was a bit of a shorter day, and it was still raining we went back to the hotel. With such a big spa for the size of the hotel, some went there and I went for a walk, although we had a good four hours which doesn’t mean you’re on a coach all day.

All of the evening meals are taken in the hotel, although this isn’t a negative. The menu is different every day and you get a choice of starter, main and dessert (and we were told that if you didn’t like anything on the menu, they would make something up for you as well). Although everything else remains the same – everything is locally sourced from the Imagna Valley region.

Sea Bass - Main Course at Hotel

Sea Bass – Main Course at Hotel

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