Nestled into the Bolognese hills you’ll find Palazzo Di Varignana Resort and Spa. This wellness and agricultural estate spans over 500 hectares of luscious landscape, enhabiting 50 hectares of vineyards, 3,000 square meters of vegetable gardens and a wilding orchard. The fertile land cultivates an abundance of produce under the “Palazzo di Varignana” brand including jams, wines, fruit juices, skincare and the finest extra virgin olive oil, which you’ll find drizzled over everything! Dating back to 1705, the honey-toned Palazzo is the heart of the resort, regenerated with inspiration taken from its 18th-century design. Surrounding the grand manor are 150 rooms sporadically placed in various buildings, 6 luxury villas and the Varsana Spa amidst manicured gardens, terraces and water fountains. Giving guests a taste of the Italian lifestyle, Palazzo Di Varignana is an ode to its locality and heritage, striking the perfect balance of ‘la dolce vita’.

Bologna is just 20 minutes via train, not that you’d have the faintest clue, the juxtaposition of the city in comparison to Palazzo Di Varignana’s green oasis of calm feels worlds away, aside from when dusk sets in and the glittering lights of the city emerge. Bustling with a flurry of locals and uni students, terracotta-hued streets lined with charming buildings, medieval towers and Europe’s oldest university which attracts culture seekers, Bologna is best known for one thing; its epic culinary scenery. The birthplace of treasured dishes including tagliatelle al ragu bolognese (spag bol to you and me), lasagne, tortellini and Parmigiano Reggiano, Bologna draws in foodie lovers yet still remains one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. There aren’t hoards of tourists much to the delight of those in the know. If a day trip to Bologna isn’t on the cards, there’s no need to worry, the culinary heritage trickles down into Palazzo Di Varignana as a reminder of where you’re pinpointed.

Whilst each wing of the hotel has its own identity, the decor sits in harmony with one another and melds well. Modern contemporary is the theme in some rooms while others housed in the renovated farmhouse have a rustic charm, some of the superior suites even have an in-room sauna and jacuzzi. The balcony rooms overlooking the rolling hills are the best rooms, sipping on an espresso on the terrace will set you up for the day the Italian way! Palazzo di Varignana’s luxury villas are ideal for families or groups of friends. A home-from-home, the villas are kitted out with all the amenities including a kitchen, dining room and infinity pool, all in the privacy of your own vicinity.


Flying the Bolongnaise flag high, the culinary experiences are quintessential of the Emilia-Romagna region. Palazzo di Varignana doesn’t struggle to follow Italy’s zero-km concept, whereby local ingredients are favoured, as much of the produce is grown and harvested on-site. Le Marzoline is the typical trattoria, with heritage dishes including tagliatelle al ragù and Bolognese cutlet on the menu. Guests come suited and booted to board the royal train, Treno Reale, casting back to the 1920’s for an authentic vintage coach dining experience. Adorned in gold leaf decorations, the carriage mimics the train that once transported the Italian royal family. The refined set menu takes you on a journey across Europe with dishes inspired by each stop of the rail voyage.

The Spa

Drawing in those seeking a rejuvenating hiatus, the Varsana Spa puts Palazzo di Varignana on the map as a noteworthy wellness destination. The emporium of wellness that is the spa is a sensory experience with attention to detail in every corner. Lose hours dwelling in the steam room, Finnish sauna, hydro jet pool, Kneipp circuit and various salt caves, aimed at eliminating toxins. Set across multi-levels, the impressive seven outdoor pools are where to spend summer days taking in the vistas you’re spoilt with.

Offering everything from facials, massages, rituals and beauty, the twist at the Varsana Spa is that each treatment is uplifted by the Palazzo di Varignana cosmetic line. From the exfoliating leg treatment, harnessing pomegranates grown on the land, to the well-age antipollution facial that boosts vitality thanks to saffron pistils aka nature’s gold, the treatments take you on a botanical journey. You can’t go wrong with any of the treatments on offer at the Varsana Spa, but if you have to choose just one, it’s only right to splurge on an olive oil-enriched treatment. The Olive Oil Massage incorporates a facial and body ritual, commencing with a spine-tingling brush of oil from top to toe. Rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, skin will never feel more quenched after being slathered in the award-winning oil complex.

For an intimate experience, book a slot at the Ars Vivendi Private Spa. Housing a Hammam, the Middle Eastern bathing ritual and a heated Ofuro, the Japanese bathtub tradition, it’s a water immersion that transports you to two separate entities in the space of 2 hours. Finishing off with a tea ceremony, the holistic fusion will cocoon your mind to switch off from the outside world.

Medical Health

Heading up Palazzo di Varignana’s health and wellness retreats is Dr. Annamaria Acquaviva, the nutritionist dietician who prioritises longevity with her practice. The Acquaviva Method is a multidisciplinary approach, curated to regain the physical and mental health bespoke to each individual. Beneath the fundamentals of boosting your health, the method also aims to stimulate the immune system, fight oxidative stress and address sleep disorders. Dr Annamaria Acquaviva’s clinic gives you access to the realm of her knowledge in a relaxing setting, a million miles away from a typical doctor setting. Based on the five pillars of health, the programmes are geared toward personalised nutrition, inner harmony, physical activity, rest and nutritional supplementation. Health programs range from Detox; Slim; In-Shape and Deep Sleep, spanning three to six days.


Free for guests to roam, the 100 hectares of olive groves and vineyards are a playground of trails to explore in the form of walks, hikes, runs and cycles. Bikes are available to borrow at no cost from the hotel and they even have an app to map out the various routes to take. Favouring open-air fitness the resort holds tennis, squash and paddle courts as well as a basketball half-court and a golfing driving range. There is a small gym with TechnoGym equipment but if the weather permits, the outdoorsy activities are the more scenic way to workout!

If you’re craving a slice of Italy’s remarkable longevity, Palazzo di Varignana is your invitation to relish in the rich culture with an emphasis on wellbeing. Can healthy living and indulgence coexist? The answer is yes, and Palazzo di Varignana epitomises this philosophy.

Visit palazzodivarignana.com to book.

words by Isabelle Shury