Have you ever eaten a wild hyacinth bulb? Bittersweet lampascioni are a homegrown delicacy at Francis Ford Coppola’s Italian hotel in the sleepy hilltop town of Bernalda. Palazzo Margherita’s daily-changing menu is a tribute to fresh local produce, with the treasured, shallot-like lampascioni served alongside lamb and buttery potatoes in a bread-covered terracotta pot. Other highlights are artichoke salad and broccoli rabe orechiette topped with crisp breadcrumbs. Make sure to leave room for tiramisud, the chef’s ‘southern’ take on the classic Italian dessert: a contrast of dense, coffee-soaked sourdough bread and ricotta.
Choose where to eat according to your mood: a sophisticated Baroque dining room, an open kitchen for a rustic family feel, or a candlelit dinner in a garden hideaway. Or have a picnic made up for you on a nearby beach (they’ll add in a catch of the day spaghetti).
Wander into town and stand at the bar, Italian-style, at Pasticceria del Corso for an espresso and a scorzetta (crumbly almond biscuits topped with smooth dark chocolate). Alternatively you might want to relax under the pink parasols of Azimut Café sipping on a lemon granita made to order from the owner’s lemon trees (Corso Umberto 1; 00 39 328 811 1756).
For a more rural experience, the hotel can arrange for you to spend a day at a local farm in the Agri river valley. You can learn to make plaited mozzarella from scratch and pizza in its ancient oven (pizza dough rolled with pork fat is amazing, as the lard miraculously turns into crisp pockets in the oven) then reap the rewards of your morning’s work with a homemade Italian banquet in the Masseria farmhouse – no lampascioni this time, but wispy, locally-foraged wild asparagus.
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