Mediterranean Oasis: The Grand Hotel Miramare

When deciding where to stay in the Italian Riviera, think like a real estate agent, “location, location, location.” Imagine standing on a private balcony enjoying the cool sea breeze of the Gulf of Tigullio and the panoramic views of coastal Italy. Picture waking up and walking out onto a terrace to see Mediterranean style buildings, fisherman preparing their boats, million dollar yachts in the port, and families playing on the beach. Take a breath of fresh air, mingled with the aromas of caramelized Italian cappuccino and homemade marmalade filled croissants. Welcome to The Grand Hotel Miramare!

Santa Margherita, Italy The Grand Hotel Miramare is a historic award winning 4 Star Hotel, in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy. Your imagination becomes reality as the Italian word miramare means panoramic view. The white fresco building, dating back to 1904, with aqua marine shutters, can be seen for miles off land. The front façade and its floral décor are not the only features that leave a lasting impression; the engaging staff, elegant accommodations, delicious meals, and a strong historical presence make this hotel the preferred lodging location in the area.

Hotel Miramare: Pesto alla GenoveseTemperate weather of the Mediterranean brings guests to the city of Santa Margherita Ligure, a seaside resort in the Province of Genoa. Located in Northwestern Italy, foreign visitors are drawn by its geographical proximity to popular locations in France and Tuscany. Locals and visitors from afar come to Santa Margherita Ligure, which is easily accessible by car, train, boat, and plane. Clientele of The Grand Hotel Miramare visit the Basilica of Santa Margherita that dates back to 1968, and the neighboring city of Portofino; they attend cultural events, and jazz and classical music festivals. Water lovers jump into sailing, rowing, boating, and diving into the fabulous emerald green waters of the area. Then, if time and energy permit, there is walking, hiking, running, horseback riding, tennis and golf as well. The hotel staff is certain to recommend the Circolo Golf and Tennis Rappallo, one of the finest golf courses in all of Italy.

Hotelier, charming gentleman, and city socialite, Andrea Fustononi, stops by the front desk and greets guests “Buongiorno!” creating an intimate family hotel atmosphere. It is inspiring that this highly successful owner of one of the oldest grand lodging destinations on the Italian Riviera, preserves the intimacy and charm of the family owned hotel by personally greeting his guests.

When the activities of the day draw down, weary tourists and sports enthusiasts return to the care of the resort’s personnel, who greet them by name and immediately propose a relaxation filled evening of pampering and in-house dining sure to give the mind, body, and palate an unique and pleasurable experience.

Hotel Miramare: RestaurantTrust the gentle hands of the professionals at e’SPAce, a richly jewel hued indoor full service spa retreat. e’SPAce also extends massage services to clients in a peaceful outdoor gazebo retreat in the Great Park, amid the lush greenery, oleanders, camellias, lavender and other aromatics. Ready to wind down, but still awestruck by the outside views, then dress appropriately, that would be swimwear, and stroll to the Mediterranean Garden, where the patron, spellbound by the views of flora, fauna, mountains, and the gulf, favor unwinding in a poolside lounger, while sipping a refresher from the pool bar, or taking a dip in the saltwater swimming pool.

Conclude the day with an enchanting dinner at Ristorante Les Bougainvillées. The stark white stucco against the contrast of intricate fresco paintings on the ceiling creates a classical Italian aura. The dining room is a formal setting, but diners may choose to dress at a level of formality that suits their style. Regardless, the service of the wait staff is warm and diligent to all guests. The menu of Les Bougainvillées features the traditional cuisines of Ligure including Trofie pasta, Focaccia Recco and the exceptional Pesto alla Genovese, made with the light buttery tasting olives of the Ligure region.

Patrons retire to the comforts of their private space decorated in hues of pale white, blue and grey. Renovated old world luxury waits in the oversized rooms showcasing delicate refined furniture and minimal fanfare. Unwind after the nightly turn down preparations have been completed and slippers set out.

Hotel Miramare RoomWhat makes The Grand Hotel Miramare so special? It is an exquisite establishment perfectly positioned in a stunning location. Genuine conversation with management and personnel exemplifies unwavering commitment to excellence in the patron’s experience. Get superb recommendations from Andrea Fustononi about anything in the city, whether local attractions or a community staple, like Seghezzo, the 100 year old family owned grocery store. Guests are impressed by the personal attention and consideration given to them, and like countless other annual lodgers, look forward to their next stay at The Grand Hotel Miramare.

~ Words & photos by Kaylah Burks, an athlete, who enjoys traveling the world while staying health conscious. Follow her on Instagram@jadenlie

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Blackberry Farm Guinea and Dumplings Recipe

After you taste the Chicken and Dumplings at the Blackberry Farm, you won’t want to eat your mom’s recipe again. Hand made pasta, shaved black truffles and melt into your mouth roasted guinea are just few of the ingredients that make this recipe so special. It is served at The Barn restaurant located at the resort, which is run by award winning chefs.

chicken dumplings

Here’s the recipe for guinea (or chicken) and dumplings…You will want to eat this all winter long!

  • 2lbs Guinea Hen Leg quarters
  • 1C salt
  • ¼ C sugar
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 2qt chicken fat (can substitute duck fat)

Combine salt, sugar and thyme sprigs. Coat chicken leg quarters in mixture and place on a wire rack and allow to cure overnight.  Next, rinse mixture off of chicken and pat dry. Place chicken into a half 4-inch hotel pan and cover with chicken fat. Place in a 250 F oven and cook until tender (approximately 2-3 hours). Remove chicken from pan, and when cool enough to handle pick the meat from the bone and discard skin and bones. Reserve chicken.

  • 1 lb. Idaho Potatoes
  • 2 Eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup Flour (approximately)
  • 2T Salt
  • 2qt +1C Chicken Stock
  • 1T Chicken fat (can substitute duck fat)
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to 148 F and poach eggs in their shell for 55 minutes and reserve.

Bake potatoes in 350 degree oven until tender. Rice potatoes through a food mill and allow potatoes to cool slightly, but still warm. Fold in egg, 2 teaspoons of salt, and truffle. Add flour gradually until mixture comes together and is not wet. Roll mixture into cylindrical shapes and cut desired length.

In a sauce pot over medium high heat bring 2 quarts of salted water and to a simmer. Blanch gnocchi in until they float. Next, shock in ice water and reserve.

In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, heat chicken fat until shimmering. Place gnocchi in pan and toast until golden brown, add reserved chicken and 1 cup of chicken stock. Finish by adding chives and seasoning with salt and black pepper. Crack egg over the top.

~ Courtesy of The Barn at The Blackberry Farm

160 years in memories with Clent

“It’s a beautiful love story with a lot of powerful women” kept saying Clent Coker, the historian, museum director and author at Barnsley Gardens Resort in Georgia. While visiting the gardens this past weekend, Clent gave me a personal tour while sharing his own personal obsession with the property.

Clent’s great-grandmother was born in one of the cottages adjacent to The Barnsley Manor in the early 1800s. He grew up playing in the gardens listening to her fairy-tale stories about Godfrey Barnsley and his beloved wife, Julia. Since then he has dedicated his entire life researching, collecting and documenting every event that took place on the property. Clent’s family was friends with the Barnsleys’ so he has a mental biography of each of the family members as told over time. With hundreds of letters, pictures, furniture and personal belongings, Clent now maintains the Barnsley museum and is overjoyed to talk to whoever is interested in listening to his story.

Clent is the author of “Barnsley Gardens At Woodlands”, a 260 page, photo filled hard cover book that narrates the history of this majestic estate and its owners over the last two centuries. Cotton lord and Englishman, Godfrey Barnsley built the gardens and manor for his young wife, Julia. Clent told me that although she passed away at the age of 35 before seeing the great manner completed, it was her strong influence that later guided Godfrey through the final construction of the estate. It would become one of the greatest love stories of the south.

Surviving a tornado, the civil war, a murder, and a few owners, today the 2,000 acre Barnsley Resort stands as one of the most beautiful places in the south. By the mid 1850’s the Woodland’s gardens were completed from the manuals of the renowned landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing (aka The Father of American Landscape Architecture.) Downing is famous for his cottage style residences surrounded by symmetrical gardens. As we walked out of the ruins into the Woodlands gardens, I got a beautiful view of how rows of shrubs, trees and flowers had been strategically placed creating a pristine oasis within the lush grounds.

Clent drove me around the property in his all-terrain golf cart, speeding away through grass and dirt trails. He showed me the place where the Barnsley family is buried, the beautiful orchards, lakes and picnic areas. Apparently, Clent has also been working as a strategic advisor, overlooking the construction of the resort that opened in 1999.

He guided Prince Hubertus Fugger of Bavaria (previous owner) in restoring the gardens as he remembered them as a child.  He shared his vision of a peaceful resort representing an old English village, inspired by which the rows of neatly placed cottages were built. During the 1990’s Clent handpicked several other historic homes from the north Georgia area and had the moved to the premises, creating the outpost for adventure sports, an original Cherokee Indian cabin and the Rice House restaurant. However, we were not trying to create another “Dollywood” Clent exclaimed. He said that he and Prince Fugger and the developers agreed they would maintain the natural beauty of the place offering people a relaxing family friendly atmosphere were they could hike, bike, golf, kayak, horseback ride and swim while also touring the historic ruins and museum. In 2005 the Barnsley Gardens Resort was purchased by Julian Saul and associates and the Barnsley dream continues on.

Clearly, Clent is more than passionate about his own love affair with Barnsley. Everyone I talked to at the resort had the same feeling about him. He knows a lot about everything, they told me. His legacy is going to last with Barnsley. I couldn’t resist bringing home an autographed copy of his book and feeling the presence of a great storyteller in my own library.

To read more about Clent Coker or his book, click here.