Belmond celebrates its ‘Tuscan Renaissance’ with the official unveiling of its newest hilltop retreat, Belmond Castello di Casole and introduction of a new Town & Country package with sister-hotel Belmond Villa San Michele.
Along a cypress-lined avenue that leads to the middle of ‘nowhere’, surrounded by views of rolling Tuscan hills as far as the eye can see; the historic 10th-century hotel celebrates a rebirth with new authentic experiences embracing the simple pleasures of Tuscan living.
Food of the land is celebrated with exquisite al fresco dining experiences, first light encounters with nature connect guests with the enchanted oak forest that cocoons the property, and vintage car adventures are a thrilling way to go deep into Tuscany’s wild and untamed countryside.
FRAMING THE VIEW
The experience at Belmond Castello di Casole begins with the arrival – along the beautifully manicured tree-lined avenue, archetypal Tuscan houses appear on the horizon and a glimpse of the private estate’s 4,200 acres come into view.
Once inside the grounds, the impressive terrace serves as the heart of the hotel – a place to savour the sweeping panoramic views and take a moment to appreciate the quiet of nature. Now boasting elegant seating for all day dining and relaxation, it is also the best spot to enjoy a long lazy lunch or to toast the holiday with the estate’s home-grown red wine.
The adjoining pool terrace serves refreshing cocktails and freshly squeezed juices, from a new pool bar that also houses a small library of classic novels to while away the hours. The cleverly elevated infinity-edge pool seamlessly blends with the lush rolling hillside and offers a cinematic view at dusk.
THE GREAT OAK FOREST
The centuries-old great oak forest that borders the estate, is home to a variety of wild animals, native flora and fauna and is the inspiration for a number of new experiences. First Light in the Tuscan Wonderland in partnership with Leica Sport Optics, takes guests by 4X4 into the forest to spot bird and wildlife through Leica binoculars from observation towers dotted around the grounds. A champagne tour is offered at sunset and there is the option to journey back on foot to fully appreciate the scale and beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side encourages guests to explore the impressive number of trekking routes that weave around the woods. Or further afield, self-guided, guided hikes and cycling tours can be arranged to nearby historic castles, landmarks and pretty hamlets. Truffle Hunting with small groups of foodies is an estate signature experience, led by expert hunter Mauro Nesi and his stunning Lagotto Romagnolo dogs. Once the truffles are unearthed from the forest grounds, the hotel kitchen uses the delicacy to infuse a tasting menu of Taglierini, Tosca fillet and Black truffle tarts.
A TASTE OF TUSCANY
Food from the land and savouring tradition is at the heart of Belmond Castello di Casole’s revitalised wine and dining experiences. La Tosca, serving Tuscan cuisine with a contemporary twist, offers homemade pasta, locally-sourced meat, garden-fresh produce and is where the estate’s own brand extra virgin olive oil is best sampled. Traditional stone-baked ‘Pizzas on the piazza’ are a great way to try unusual Tuscan toppings and budding chefs can spend an afternoon with the Head Chef to master the art of pizza making.
For a taste of Tuscan hospitality, groups can privately reserve the Enchanted Table; suspended from a towering oak tree, beautifully dressed with flowers and atmospherically lit by candelabra and twinkling lights. Aperitifs and a merenda of sharing platters, consisting local farmhouse cheeses, hams, wines and even homemade gelato, make for a beautiful local spread.
The introduction of CIP’s by Cipriani, inspired by Hotel Cipriani’s famous bistro, offers classic Venetian dishes using locally-sourced ingredients and for the first time in the property’s history gives diners the chance to fully enjoy the hilltop location of the terrace. Bar Visconti, with its marble detailing and fresco-painted walls, is a typical Italian lounge bar and the most authentic spot for tasting the hotel’s vibrant own label ‘C’ and ‘XII’ wine blends and prestigious local vintages.
A TUSCAN VILLAGE
Rooms and suites are spread throughout the storied buildings of what was once a bustling Tuscan village dating back to the year 998 – a limonaia, wine cellar and priest’s house have been transformed into 39 sumptuous bedrooms, each bursting with rustic charm. Warm woods, Carrara marble floors and antique mirrors define the overall aesthetic and many rooms have spacious bathrooms with roll top baths from which to admire the picture frame views of the surrounding landscapes.
The Essere Spa, located in the ancient stone alcoves of a vaulted wine cellar, displays Etruscan artefacts and offers treatments inspired by the land. Locally harvested olive oil, orange-infused oil, honey, rosemary and grapes are used in signature facials and massages and a new outdoor relaxation lawn is a space to reconnect with nature over a fresh herbal tea.
CONTEMPORARY RENAISSANCE IN FLORENCE
Less than a two-hour scenic drive away is Belmond Villa San Michele – an icon of Florentine Renaissance famed for its terraced gardens and proximity to the city – and the ideal Tuscan twin-stay with Belmond Castello di Casole.
This season, the hotel extends its celebration of contemporary renaissance with experiences connecting gastronomy, history and art. A beautifully restored 1930s-style Fiat 1100 Musone, converted by Garage Italia and given its floral art makeover by Rome-based street artist, Lucamaleonte, offers a stylish way to transfer between the two hotels.
Art lovers can also privately hire the car to visit the exceptional Tuscan sculpture parks, like the Pazzagli and secluded Garden of Sounds, or take a sunset drive to local landmarks and vineyards for a sparkling wine and picnic pitstop.
To mark 500 years of Leonardo da Vinci’s genius, guided dawn walks through the lush landscapes of Montececeri hill and historic quarries of Pietra Serena, culminate at the exact spot behind the hotel where the inventor test drove his famous flying machine.
As a nod to Da Vinci’s lesser-known fascination with food (inspired by his time in Milan cooking for the ruling Sforza family in the 1480s), guests are invited to share a traditional feast under the pergola of the hotel’s Italian gardens just below Montececeri Park. A menu, designed by rising culinary star and Executive Chef Alessandro Cozzolino, uses herbs, spices and techniques inspired by the pioneer’s foodie preferences.
Throughout the hotel and gardens, Leonardo Da Vinci’s anniversary motivates the choice of new installations that challenge traditional Renaissance storytelling. Local contemporary artists showcase works that range from ironic modern sculptures of Renaissance icons, eye-catching wooden canvases depicting Italy to glass mirror columns that reflect nature.
The ‘Town & Country’ four-night package (which can be booked in any combination), includes best available rooms on B&B at Belmond Castello di Casole and Belmond Villa San Michele, private transfer between the two hotels and starts from £2,090 /€2,360 per couple, excluding taxes.
Double rooms on B&B at Belmond Castello di Casole start from £667 / €750 per couple based on two people sharing and at Belmond Villa San Michele start from £756/ €850.
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