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Agriturismi: Italy's Best Affordable Spots

Tenuta La Pila

Simon Watson

Veneto: Tenuta La Pila

“I admit I’m a little Swiss,” jokes the former textile entrepreneur Alberto Sartori, explaining why everything runs like clockwork on his 108-acre farm in the green Veneto plains between Verona and Rovigo. But the ebullient welcome he and his wife, Raimonda, give guests here is purely Italian. At Tenuta La Pila, things are done big: the fertile farmlands yield corn, wheat, and soy; the enormous orchardproduces many apple varieties and every conceivable stone fruit; and row upon row of kiwifruit vines—Italy is one of the world’s largest producers—flank a 50-foot-long swimming pool. The architecture is just as impressive. Converted from a 1733 rice mill and fronted by a pebbled courtyard, the property includes a graceful Neoclassical casa padronale (main house), a mustard-colored barchessa (an arcaded barn where guests sleep), and an Art Nouveau carriage house that functions as an office. Raimonda has outfitted the five guest rooms and seven apartments with lighting, linens, and incredibly comfortable mattresses sourced from across Italy. Veneto being maize country, expect plenty of smooth, fluffy polenta for dinner, served with a rustic stew of farm goose and braised wild greens. Sartori and his wife offer dinner just twice a week so that guests can explore the area’s Slow Food restaurants—the perfect end to a day trip to the nearby Palladian villas or the art-filled cities of Verona, Vicenza, Ferrara, and Padua, all less than an hour away.

Great Value 42 Via Pila, Spinimbecco; 39-0442/659-289; doubles from $118; dinner for two $59.

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