We have seen impressive Palladian palaces in the city of Vicenza and now it is time to visit one of Palladio’s villas in the countryside. We choose Villa Godi Malinverni, completed in 1542. Situated approximately 25 kilometers north of the city, the villa is perched on the slopes of the Lonedo Hill overlooking the Astico River. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996.
The gardens are typically Italian and include basins, fountains, statues and columns, dating back to the 17th and early 18th centuries. To the left of the villa is the barchese, a structure that pre-existed the villa and served as the horse stables. A portico was added, supported by Palladian columns. Opened decades ago by a previous owner as a tavern, today it houses Ristorante Il Torchio Antico. The interior is very elegant as is the outside dining area beneath the columned portico, which is where we have lunch.
A Prosecco and an amuse-bouche are offered to whet our appetites. Of the trio of tidbits, the little square of grilled polenta topped with bacalà mantecato is exceptional. A tagliere of local salumi and cheeses is brought to our table on a well-worn wooden polenta paddle. The sweet Asiago cheese pares well with local honey and is a treat among many. We then have the pleasure of sampling Bucatini alla Lughese, a dish that has received the coveted De.Co. certification, signifying its authenticity as a historical dish of the region. It is a recipe that was created right here at the villa and is served in only three other restaurants in the area. “Short” pasta is coated in a delectable tomato sauce made with three meats – veal, chicken, and beef, and three types of local mushrooms. It is served in a glazed earthenware crock.
A second primo is a dish of duck-stuffed ravioli. No secondi for us. A light sorbet flavored with the lemon verbena herb and lime provides a tasty send-off after a most memorable afternoon in the Vicentine countryside.