Anyone who’s spent the last couple of years homebound would likely love the chance to hop on a flight, no matter the destination. However, even if you had the world at your feet, the pull of Italy is stronger than it’s ever been, with the promise of afternoon aperitivos and feasts with friends. While a Sicilian summer might be off the cards for the moment, we enjoyed the next best thing this week thanks to our friends at Peroni, visiting one of Australia’s finest private homes, for a lunch that was served with as much style as the tennis that followed.
The home in question was Paul Bangay’s Stonefields, a property that represents a labour of love for one of Australia’s most well-regarded landscape designers. While the design of the expansive property is somewhat eclectic, the feel it offers is very much one you might experience in southern Europe. Featuring geometric hedges that frame a pair of cascading terraced main gardens on either side of the main building, and other smaller and quietly secluded gardens hidden throughout the space.
“I draw a lot of inspiration from the architecture of the building, I also draw a lot of inspiration from travelling,” explained Bangay in an interview about the home. “It’s really a mishmash of everything I’ve been seeing and exploring for the last eight years.”
“The style is classic, but I still try to give it a contemporary edge. I don’t like it to be too pastiche, I like classic to mean it’s going to endure but is going to be fresh as well,” he said.
An example of enduring classicism is exactly what Stonefields offers, boasting a network of fountains and a Tuscan-inspired pool that celebrates the incredible views from the rear of the home. The design of the garden also emphasises moments of secluded intimacy, such as the grassy glade where we enjoyed a game of miniature tennis or one of the outdoor dining areas that presented the perfect spot for an olive tasting.
In a way, the garden is a series of peaceful moments, with each self-contained space offering the chance to pause and recentre. It suggests a lifestyle that’s an antidote to the hustle and bustle of every day, slowing down to enjoy a meal, or simply wandering through the lush greenery as we did, Peroni in hand.
The lunch was masterminded by the teams across Joe Mammones Melbourne establishments, Bar Carolina, Il Bacaro and Marameo, who created a menu of Italian dishes with a twist of local flair. This included an appetite-whetting olive tasting, and a Peroni-inspired granita bar to tie the meal together.
Once lunch had concluded, we were left to explore Paul’s idyllic gardens and catch up with friends new and old, all while revelling in scenery that could have been Italy, were it not for the pair of Wedgetail eagles surveying the estate nearby. The Eagles weren’t the only things in the air, however, as a quartet of helicopters landed on the lawns to return us to Melbourne for a fantastic evening at the Australian Open.
The team behind Peroni in Australia are magicians, not just in the way they teleported us directly into the Italian countryside, but also in how they presented a more continental way of life, enjoying good food with good company. While it was a rare treat that Stonefields was opened for a private event, the gardens are occasionally open for public tours, hosted by Paul Bangay himself. So you’re lusting after a taste of Italy without the jetlag, Stonefields with a Peroni in hand is the next best thing.
Check out Paul Bagnay’s Stonefields Farmhouse at the link below.