In the picturesque outskirts of Modena, just a short 20-minute drive from the city center and a mere 10-minute journey from the Modena Sud exit on the A1 highway, lies the enchanting country house, Casa Maria Luigia. This historic 18th-century residence, once left abandoned, was brought back to life by renowned chef Massimo Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore.
The Transformation Journey of Bottura & Gilmore
Having purchased this grand property at a court auction for 700,000 euros after five failed attempts, the couple had a vision. They wanted to offer guests the experience of the tranquil Italian countryside paired with world-class dining. They invested an additional million euros to restore and transform the once-decrepit villa into an exclusive guesthouse, which quickly became the go-to spot for corporate gatherings and group dinners.
Every corner of this villa reflects Bottura and Gilmore’s passions. From art installations by acclaimed artists like Andy Warhol and Doug Aitken to its Gucci wallpaper and decorative mirrors, Casa Maria Luigia exudes luxury and taste. The 12-room residence is spread over three floors, complete with a standalone bungalow, a tennis court, and a swimming pool. For music lovers, the listening room, boasting a vintage LP collection and Alessandro Mendini’s iconic Proust armchair, is a treat.
Gastronomic Delights: Francescana at Maria Luigia
Nestled within Casa Maria Luigia is its gem, the Francescana restaurant. Headed by the talented Canadian chef, Jessica Rosval, a veteran of Bottura’s Osteria Francescana team, this eatery offers an array of Bottura’s signature dishes. From a tasting menu with highlights like “Una compressione di pasta e fagioli” and “Tortellini come gesto sociale” priced at 330 €, to its wine pairing option for an additional 150 €, the culinary experience here is unparalleled.
The difference between this establishment and Osteria Francescana downtown? While the latter only serves newly created dishes that rotate biannually, Francescana at Maria Luigia celebrates Bottura’s iconic creations from over the years.
A Morning at Bottura’s
Mornings at Casa Maria Luigia are a delight. Guests are greeted with a hearty breakfast reminiscent of traditional Modenese farmer snacks. Picture freshly baked bread and focaccia from a wood-fired oven, paired with locally sourced ricotta. Not to mention, the variety of local specialties like cotechino, erbazzone, and aged Parmigiano Reggiano, ensuring guests start their day on a gastronomic high.
An Experience Beyond Stay & Food
But the surprises don’t stop at food. Venture into the playroom and you’ll discover a treasure trove of limited edition Ferrari cars, vintage Ducatis, Maseratis, and Lamborghinis. A nod to Bottura’s love for “slow food and fast cars.” The experience is further enhanced with a tour of the adjoining acetaia, where over 1,200 barrels of traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena are aged.
For those looking to immerse themselves in the full Casa Maria Luigia experience, accommodations range from the Festina Lente rooms priced at 340 € to the expansive Luigina bungalow at 2,500 €.
Known to attract a star-studded clientele, it’s rumored that celebrities like David Beckham and actor Patrick Dempsey have enjoyed stays here. So, whether you’re seeking a lavish escape or a gastronomic journey, Casa Maria Luigia awaits.