Foot thick stone walls to keep the heat out or the warmth in, a forno on the patio outside for authentic al fresco cooking, and an infinity pool with a view of the Tuscan hills: this is the Tuscan dream shared by many Brits, and Castello di Casole is one of the current examples of the real thing.
Covering 4,200 acres Castello di Casole is one the largest private estates in Italy. Situated 20 minutes north of Siena and 45 minutes from Florence it was originally home to the illustrious Bargaglli family, and later the film director Visconti. The estate is classic Tuscany in every sense, as one realises driving along the tiny roads which meander around the estate through sunflower fields, vineyards and olive groves. The estate actually produces a respectable crop of olive oil, wine and sunflower oil, some of which is sold to local hotels and restaurants but most of which is kept for residents of the estate.
What is taking place at the moment (slowly, thanks to extremely strict planning laws on historic buildings) is a complete regeneration of the buildings scattered on the land and their immediate surroundings so that this old estate can once again come to life.
A MODERN TAKE ON THE TRADITIONAL
The developers have made sure that when everything is finished, and all the old buildings have been renovated, the main Castello will provide the focal point. It is to become a five star hotel with apartments also attached for rental, hotel rooms and a magnificent penthouse over two floors with some of the most lovely views to be had anywhere in the region. There will be restaurants and a wine bar within the Castello itself, in the courtyards, and inside the old castle, plus a spa. The original church is also being beautifully restored for weddings, other services, or just for personal use. The one part which cannot be touched is the old mausoleum, which is still owned by the Bargagllis, as there is where many of their descendants are layed to rest.
Further out on the estate, Casalis – farmhouses which fell into complete disrepair – are also being completely renovated to the highest standards. All casalis have oodles of space indoors and out, their own infinity pool, and wonderful interior decoration which reflects the feel of the area using antiques and other bits and pieces which went into making the original dwellings. Whether there are two three, four or more bedrooms, each of these properties is isolated enough that you feel completely at peace, but also totally secure. The estate has its own security, provided by guards on the boundaries night and day. The character of each house is also different, as they used to serve different purposes originally, and reconstruction has to involve putting walls where walls once were, and rooms where rooms once were. Considering all the materials used are the original materials which these dwellings were made of, this experience about as authenticly Tuscan as one can imagine. And all of the views are stunning, stretching over rolling patchwork hills and heartbreaking sunsets.
Service at the Casalis is also first rate. They are maintained and cleaned, and stocked up completely before your arrival so you don’t have to worry about anything but your passport. Just arrive at the airport and your driver will be waiting there for you. During your stay, the staff up at the Castello are completely at your service: should you want to hire bikes, go horse riding, or go on a wine tour, everything can be arranged as and when you would like. The team also has a pool of chefs who can come and cook supper for you, or give cooking lessons. And if you feel like going out, there are also a myriad of restaurants in the area which are only a short drive away.
And although it may feel like you’ve gone back to the 19th century when you’re in your home, should you suddenly need to send a quick email or put a document together, the entire estate is wired up for broadband, WIFI and all the modern connections to life you could need, should you have to get back to the office for a bit.
For sale in their entirety, or as fractional ownership opportunities, the Casalis and the apartments up at the Castello are a wonderful chance to buy your own little bit of Italy. What you get here is the service levels and security of a top hotel with the privacy and space of your own property.
Prices range from 4 million euros, or fractions from 345,000 euros for the Casalis. For further information log onto www.castellodicasole.com/ or telephone their Italian office on +39 0577 967510.