As we plan to return to Europe, with restrictions being cautiously relaxed, it’s likely that pub crawls in east London or sitting side-by-side in Piazza di Spagna won’t be high on our to-do list. to do. On the contrary, we would very much consider the serenity and splendor of the countryside as a much more attractive option… especially given the possibilities of social distancing of the more sylvan destinations of the continent.
Of course, this fall can still see crowds of Italophiles flocking to glorious Tuscany again. So what better time to finally envision adjacent Umbria, where wine, vistas and hospitality are just as life changing, and maybe even more so? And for those who are still hesitant to share close company with a significant number of humans, staying on a 3,700-acre estate would seem particularly appealing. And this rather stupendous dimension is indeed a characteristic of Castello di Reschio, a superb new boutique hotel with 36 rooms which, as its name suggests, is in fact a thousand-year-old castle. Perched at the western end of the province of Perugia, it sits practically on the border of Umbria and Tuscany – while the Umbrian capital of Perugia is only an hour away by train, the incredibly charming Under the Tuscan sun the town of Cortona is only about 20 minutes away.
Overseen by Florentine architect / nobleman / count Benedikt Bolza and his artist wife Donna Nencia, their impeccable sense of aesthetics and good taste can be seen in every square inch of the space. Certainly the interiors / exteriors are practically a visual treatise on local craftsmanship, from tile, stone and stucco work to landscaping design, to Nencia’s trompe l’oeil artwork, custom lighting and furnishings from Bolza BB’s own design studio Pour Reschio. Sumptuous but rustic-chic rooms have stone floors, modern four-poster beds, elegant beamed ceilings, and, most importantly, utterly ethereal views from just about every window.
The ‘local’ ethic extends to the cuisine, which draws on the estate’s own gardens, beehives and organic vineyards, as well as selected regional suppliers, for farm-to-fork cooking at Ristorante al Castello on the spot. There’s an adjoining bar, a Palm Court for afternoon tea, and yet another more casual dining option, the Ristorante Alle Scuderie – so epicureans hardly need to leave the premises.
Considering the considerable stress and anxieties of the past nineteen months, perhaps the most alluring feature is the Bathhouse Spa, romantically located in the old wine cellar. It has a plunge pool with salt water, a hammam, a sauna, a tepidarium and two treatment rooms. Moreover, where could one hope to find a real functional fireplace in a wellness center?
While it may be tempting, admittedly, on the other end of a deadly pandemic, to just want to spend the entire visit undergoing restorative treatments, the property also has its own cooking school, horse riding center. and even a truffle hunting program. And if the urban itch strikes, Florence is about 90 minutes away by train. Of course, this all comes at a price, with room rates starting at around $ 760 / night; but if there was ever a time for some totally indulgent Italian madness, wouldn’t there be?