“A rustic B&B in an enchanting riverside setting between Lake Garda and Verona - ideal for nature lovers and romantics”
The 5 rooms - all doubles - have a rustic feel, with beamed ceilings, whitewashed walls and wooden shutters that swing open to reveal beautiful vignettes of the gardens and river. Country checks in calming shades of grey and cream adorn the cushions and curtains, while bird sculptures and a sprinkling of fishing-related paraphernalia reflect the waterside setting.
We stayed in Gelsomino, which occupies a gingerbread-style cottage on the lawn, next to the main mill (where Pietro and Mattea live). Behind the flower-framed door is a sitting area with a comfy sofa, a shelf of books and an open-tread staircase spiralling up to the bedroom; outside is a terrace with a table and chairs. We loved the antique travelling chest, opened out to provide hanging space for clothes, and we slept soundly under the snuggly quilt, soothed by the gentle lullaby of crickets and frogs outside.
The other rooms sit in a separate building a little closer to the river. Occupying the ground floor are Gelso and Ortensia, both with lofty ceilings, sofas and plenty of space. On the floor above are Iris 1 and 2. Wood-clad Iris 1 is the smallest room, with just enough space for a wicker chair and a little wooden table; Iris 2 is slightly larger and has a wonderful view of the water, together with a collection of antique fishing rods arranged artfully above the bed.
Bathrooms throughout are pretty but fairly simple, with showers in tiled niches or plastic cubicles (no tubs, toiletries or bathrobes); be aware that Gelsomino’s ensuite is downstairs, so you’ll need to negotiate the steps on night-time loo trips. All rooms are heated and air-conditioned, and you also get a hairdryer, WiFi, glass bottles of water and, in Gelsomino, a vintage-style radio and iPod dock.
Pietro will ask you about breakfast preferences when you arrive, and will then tailor a morning feast to your tastes - if you want poached eggs and toast, then poached eggs and toast you will get. We tucked into creamy Monte Veronese cheese, pastries from the local bakery (including yummy wholemeal croissants) and juicy grapes the size of plums, along with pots of homemade jam, cafetières of coffee and a jug of freshly squeezed blood-orange juice. But the highlight of it all was the beautiful setting, on individual tables dotted under the willows (if the weather turns, things move under the cover of the gazebo).
No other meals are served at the B&B, but guests are often treated to complimentary aperitifs as the sky and river slowly turn pink. And eating out is no problem in a region renowned for its Slow Food and local produce. Pietro and Mattea can suggest plenty of tried and tested restaurants, including relaxed waterside osterias in Borghetto (a 10-minute stroll away), fish-focused places near Lake Garda and upmarket trattorias in Verona. We headed to the friendly, family-run Ristorante Alla Borsa in the centre of Valeggio sul Mincio and munched our way through enormous bowls of the town’s famed tortellini, together with delicate swordfish carpaccio, creamy ricotta drenched in a bitter chocolate sauce, and pears stewed in local Valpolicella wine.
If you want to splash out, taxis can be arranged to some of the grandes dames of Venetian cuisine. Perhaps the grandest of them all is the triple Michelin-starred Ristorante dal Pescatore near Mantua, which has been run by the Santorini family since 1926 and which serves, in the words of Pietro, “the best of everything”.
The focus at La Finestra Sul Fiume is very much on romance and relaxation, but the sprawling gardens mean there’s space enough for everyone, and Pietro and Mattea (who have a young daughter themselves) welcome kids of all ages. There are endless opportunities for Swallows and Amazons-style adventures, and the natural swimming pool formed along the river in summer is calm and safe.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
A baby cot or extra bed can be added to all rooms. Book Gelso or Ortensia if you can, as they have slightly more space for families than Iris 1 and 2. Split-level Gelsomino is another good option, as the sofa can be moved to create an additional sleeping area downstairs, but the steep spiral staircase means you might want to stop littl'uns venturing upstairs. Be aware that all rooms have showers only (no tubs).
Babysitting can be arranged - see Rates.
The proximity of the water means you’ll need to keep a close eye on roving toddlers.