by Chrysa Smith

The key to life is day trips.

My cousin once spewed forth this piece of wisdom, and quite frankly, I think she’s onto something. Because every so often, without plan in hand, the day just comes together in a most lovely way. And it happened just the other day.
I found myself in Lancaster County, PA once again. And at
the end of a long day in an amusement park, watching kiddie shows, mascots and barefoot children hover above me on the tram ride, I was in no mood for any sort of touristy buggy-peeking escapades, nor fried ham steaks and shoe fly pie for dinner.

I wanted some ‘finer’ food; a nice glass of wine and anything mellow. My husband suggested returning to the Philly burbs to
dine, but that Super Pretzel for lunch just wouldn’t hold me all the way from breakfast through late afternoon and an hour plus ride on the PA Turnpike to our own stomping grounds. Think. Think. What’s out this way?

Ah, my husband remembered—Mazzi, the restaurant at The Inn at Leola Village.

Wow—where did that come from? I don’t know, and I don’t really care, because it was exactly what I needed: a piece of urban, Tuscan sophistication in the middle of God’s country. Located on Rt. 23, a little off the beaten path from the mega outlet centers of Rt. 30, The Inn at Leola Village is one of those places that is the perfect Rx for a tired mind and body.

I was first there last fall for a cold, fall weekend. It came to me by a trusted referral, plus many of their own including AAA, Conde Nast and the Historic Hotels of America. It’s all for good reason. Everything is well-tended—from the upscale ‘town & country’ lobby to the welcoming guest rooms and even the rest rooms—-where relieving yourself takes on an extra special quality (nicely furnished, private wooden stalls).

But of course, where does my heart lie? Yep, in the kitchen—one which I actually received a tour of, just for the asking. Their restaurant, Mazzi, is upscale, well-run and quite nice, whether it be for a late lunch in the bar (as we did) or an elegant European style dinner in the formal dining room.

The wine list is, well– well-chosen, and the menu, well, well-appointed. Take a sample: the lunch special was a three-course offering that you chose from a sectioned menu. I had mixed greens in a lovely vinegrette, and a freshly-made pasta with shrimp wrapped up and served to me in a ribbon-tied parchment. An Italian cheesecake topped it all off—without a centimeter to spare anywhere in my gastro tract—-not only well done for the senses (degustation) but well portioned as well (And those two qualities don’t always go together).

The kitchen was bustling, with great scents and chefs prepping selections for a wedding and Saturday night dinner. The kitchen table, tucked into a kitchen niche, looks wonderfully inviting for a cool night’s meal. Out back is the Tuscan landscaped herb and veggie garden, where the chefs pluck their seasonings and side dishes fresh off the plants (well, while the weather cooperates at least).

The complex is the creation of architect/owner John (never did catch his last name) who took a few standard issue Lancaster County barns and converted them into something truly special. I was told that he actually took a few employees with him to Tuscany—to really understand what he was shooting for back here in the PA heartland.

Take my word for it. It’s a keeper. So, if you’re looking for a quick getaway that makes you feel like you’ve travelled a million miles in a nano-second(without the associated costs) check it out at

Next stop: their spa. If it’s as good as the rest of the resort, I may have to put up my feet and stay awhile.