Away Game: A certain romance of Tuscany and Umbria


W

e just arrived married at Castello di Reschio, a 1,000-year-old hilltop castle on the border of Tuscany and Umbria. Few things could top my own wedding, but even my wife thinks Reschio pulled off the impossible.

Opened last year, the 36-room hotel is within walking distance to gorgeous locations like Spoleto, Assisi, Gubbio, Cortona, Montepulciano, Florence, Siena, and even Pisa. But once you’re here, why would you ever want to leave? The property itself is about the size of Islington. White stallions craving for adventure can be saddled and ridden from the stables to explore the rolling oak and chestnut forests, lakes and olive groves (E-bikes are also available). The staff was the nicest I have ever known. We felt less in a hotel and more like royal guests.

That’s not far from the goal. The property was bought in 1994 – at that time in a desolate condition – by Count Antonio Bolza, whose family was once knighted by the Habsburgs. Count Benedict, Antonio’s son, a talented architect, with his wife Donna Nencia restored 29 of the ruined farmhouses surrounding the estate and sold them to wealthy would-be Umbrians. She and her family lived on the estate for 11 years before raising enough money to begin turning their castle home into a res publica.

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Time does wonderful things here. Somewhere in the 40-minute drive from Perugia, the centuries slip away. The sun rises in Umbria in the east and in Tuscany in the west. Aside from gently pausing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s all you’ll do to check the clock. The pool, a shimmering disc that empties into lush grass beneath swollen maritime pines, is perhaps the most beautiful I’ve seen. In the courtyard of the castle, a large glass conservatory with potted palm trees and plush sofas welcomed us into another world.

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To be honest, our room was bigger than our flat in London. I’ll long for his study, oak camp bed, cavernous dressing room, and bar (no TV is also an admirable choice). The Etruscan window seats, tall steel fire grates, claw-foot bathtubs and otherworldly Poggibonsi lamps are all made from local materials and crafted in the estate’s workshops – and designed by the Count. In fact, everything was designed specifically for Reschio or sourced from a neighboring market town. I have never been to a place that is not only so vast and impressive, but so exquisitely cared for in every detail.

Some of the happiest hours of our lives were spent in the bathhouse, a magical grotto deep in the castle’s old wine cellar. There we were massaged next to a flickering fireplace and wallowed like smug hippos in a candlelit Roman bath. During meals we dined like kings in the Ristorante Alle Scuderie. Think venison stew with homemade tagliatelle, Isolana sea bass with local zucchini and potatoes, and a great chocolate tiramisu. Sculptures of Nic Fiddian Green (he of the Marble Arch horsehead) adorn the gardens like giant chess pieces. An Umbrian jazz band strummed as we sat on the restaurant terrace looking out over the lush Niccone valley below and enjoying the estate’s own wines. If only there had been an “I heart Reschio” T-shirt to take away between the Venetian silk slippers and the woven Florentine sun hats in the Schlossbottega.

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Rooms at the Hotel Castello di Reschio from £685, including breakfast (reschio.com)



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