Ask anyone from Lucca where to lunch on Sunday or flee the city to escape the stifling summer heat and the reply is invariably this dreamy salmon-pink mansion with stone-balustrade verandah, 7km west of town. The grand old villa overlooks olive groves and has a wonderful tree-shaded terrace on which diners feast alfresco on Tuscan cuisine and green views of soft rolling Lucchesi hills.
Pasta is strictly homemade and traditional dishes enjoy a creative seasonal twist – red-cabbage risotto with gorgonzola fondue, saffron-scented tagliatelle (ribbon pasta) with prosciutto and prawns. Come winter, dining is all about snuggling up, glass of wine in hand, in front of a roaring fire. Advance reservations essential, especially on Sunday when Lucchese families flock here for Villa Bongi's outstanding-value lunch.