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Agriturismi: Italy's Best Affordable Spots

Piedmont: La Traversina

Deep in the wooded hills of Southern Piedmont, Rosanna and Domenico Varese Puppo run a retreat straight out of a fairy tale. The air surrounding the 300-year-old, vine-draped, part-stone house is thickly scented with roses. Inside, four wood-beamed guest rooms and three small apartments are decorated with the owners’ travel mementos and auction finds. La Traversina trades not in cattle or crops but in flowers—which means that the garden is a fragrant riot of 200 kinds of flora, including some 50 species of irises. Rosanna is a former architect, a dog breeder, and a kitchen genius; Domenico is an expert in heirloom tomatoes; and at their side is their “adopted son,” Vijaya, a charismatic, multilingual Sherpa in his late twenties who came from Nepal for a visit and decided to stay in Italy. At night, an equally colorful crowd congregates around the superlong wooden table for Ligurian vegetable torte and pastas swathed in emerald pesto with thyme, basil, and marjoram from the garden. Over grappa, Vijaya spins yarns about Himalayan mountaineering disasters, and Rosanna explains the origins of Monteboro, a local sheep’s- and cow’s-milk cheese shaped like an elaborate wedding cake. Sign up for a gardening, yoga, or cooking class, or just perfect the art of dolce far niente by the flower-fringed pool.

Great Value 109 Cascina La Traversina, Stazzano; 39-0143/61377; doubles from $148; dinner for two $80.

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