Virgilio | The Pettifogger Inn

It isn’t easy to leave a place like Mantua, yet another of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, with its medieval and Renaissance treasures both architectural and artistic, still less if you’re a devotee of opera. But for a lovely place to stay in a pastoral setting, head south for just a few minutes to Virgilio – Virgil’s birthplace – and a smart B&B with the challenging name of Locanda Azzeccagarbugli.

In a renovated 19th-century villa surrounded by extensive gardens, Paola Leali offers 5 capacious guestrooms with chic contemporary décor, and warm but polished hospitality. The bathrooms too are large and stylish, and breakfast is worthy of similar praise.

Don’t go out for dinner, for here in the restaurant kitchen Paola’s creative talent really explodes. She does excellent, refined versions of regional dishes and serves fine wines, all at reasonable prices. The restaurant’s open to non-guests too on Friday and Saturday evenings, and for Sunday lunch except in high summer.

The Pettifogger Inn  – a literal translation, Azzeccagarbugli also being the name of the rascally lawyer in Italy’s national literary classic of 1827,  Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed – welcomes children (accompanied by their parents) and regularly exhibits works by a guest artist.