Who knew you could enjoy a European escape just 90 minutes from Melbourne? Cruise through the scenic Victorian countryside slightly north of Daylesford, cross the bridge over a calmly babbling creek and make your way along the driveway lined with lofty poplar trees: welcome to the Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm, a space of utmost tranquillity and traditional rustica lifestyle.
Shrouded in exquisite gardens, plum-hued lavender fields ("lavandula"), olive and chestnut groves and rambling vineyards, the Lavandula Farm is a little slice of bella Italia in Daylesford. The crown jewel of the property is the golden stone farmhouse and adjoining La Trattoria cafe, serving al fresco antipasto, lunch and afternoon tea beneath the shade of the property's ash trees or in cosy indoor confines.
Some two decades ago – after serving as a dairy farm for four generations of Swiss-Italian immigrants – the property was bought and restored to its heritage glory days, highlighting the beauty of Italian architecture and the simplicity of farm life that is common practice for many in the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges region.
The farm changes from season to season. In winter, the crops are pared back into sculptural art, while summer sees the flowering lavender harvested by hand and sickle. Lavender is a major focus at the farm; the honey-sweet fragrance inescapable as you explore the estate. The crops are harvested, dried and distilled into lavender water or lavender oil, the basis of body products and flavoured delicacies such as lavender champagne available on site.
The Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm hosts a handful of festivals throughout the calendar year. Time your visit in to take part in La Primavera (the Spring festival celebrating the farm's origins), the lavender harvest through January, the Autumn farm-fare harvest or a petanque boules tournament. Otherwise, simply explore the crops and cafe, listen to birdsong as you laze on the grass and relish la dolce vita.