25 years ago Alberto Musacchio and his wife Malu opened the doors of Italy's first vegetarian gourmet restaurant-hotel. Over the last quarter of a century the award- winning Country House Montali Hotel has gone from strength to strength, garnering praise across the globe.
Located in the breathtaking Umbria countryside the nine bedroom property is perched on the top of a plateau, overlooking Lake Trasimeno and surrounded by evergreen forest and 25 acres of Alberto’s own olive groves.
The charming rooms are located in three airy, single-storey stone buildings with high ceilings and wooden rafters that flank the restored farmhouse which serves as Montali’s restaurant.
Montali have also created a cookbook The Vegeterranean: Italian Vegetarian Cooking. It was the winner of Best Vegetarian Cookbook of the Year at the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and features a collection of Malu’s favourite dishes and is the perfect showcase for the richness and diversity of modern vegetarian cooking.
The property is all about rustic charm, peace and tranquillity. The simplicity of the rooms offers home comforts and each has a private patio or veranda on which to enjoy the cool evening breeze and magnificent sunsets.
As beautiful as the location is, is the food that has earned Montali its reputation. Made with the freshest local produce, all dishes are nutritionally balanced and characterised by colour, texture and strong yet subtle flavours.
Much of the menu is based on old family recipes with a twist. A typical first course would be a “polenta taragna” of buckwheat stuffed with broad beans pure, mushroom sauté and served with balsamic reduction and black truffle; or perhaps an asparagus cappuccino.
The second course could include Malu’s signature ginger and lemon risotto or timballo alla teramana (five layers of crespelle filled with zucchini, mushrooms, peas and three different kinds of cheese), followed by a main of aubergine tart with a parsley and caper sauce, cauliflower tempura and pepper coulis. For dessert, guests may be fortunate enough to enjoy a slice of chocolate lava cake with liquorice ice-cream and kiwi sauce or perhaps a tangy delizia al limone.
As a perfect complement to the cuisine, Alberto offers a fine list of indigenous wines. The selection encompasses most of the regions of Italy and guests can sample everything from a renowned Barolo to a delicious naturally-fermented Regaleali wine from Sicily.
While food is the main reason to visit Montali, guests also have the option of walking in the surrounding hills, relaxing by the delightful pool or exploring the Umbrian towns of Assisi, Perugia, Orvieto or Todi or celebrated Tuscan hotspots such as Siena.