Peace, comfort and Tuscan safaris: Castiglion del Bosco

August 3, 2012 in ITALY | Comments (0)

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Infinity pool in the balmy evening

Famous for its deep red Brunello di Montalcino (takes 5 years to mature), Castiglion del Bosco charges 70 euro for a tasting session at its own winery; and its own golf club charges 220 euro for 18 holes (golf cart extra), limiting the number of rounds to non members to only 4 per year. Yet  the resort is all so understated, so natural.

Celebrities come here to “earth” themselves. With nibbles of celery straight from the large veggie garden. With hiking and mountain biking. With forests full of wildife. Even wolves roam those woods – and among activities like cooking courses, harvesting, and truffle hunting you can even go on safari.

The villas – beautifully restored Tuscan farm houses with private pools – cost from 3500 euro per night for a 3-bedroom villa to 5000 euro per night for a 5 bedoom villa, three by the hotel and six perched on hills somewhere on the 4500 acre estate. Rack rate on the borgo rooms from 620 euro per night including breakfast.

A veritable fortune and years of restoration turned the medieval village with its church and ruined castle first into a highly exclusive club and then a hotel, owned by Massimo Ferragamo, actually resident in the USA. He is the youngest son in  the illustrious Italian family Ferragamo. A name that sparkles in Italy.

Simplicity is refinement but can include very expensive details. Everything is antique or custom made.  TVs and minibars in leather cases. Four poster beds fashioned in wrought iron by craftsmen in Florence, the Renaissance city. Pictures from antique shops. Rows and rows of them, beautifully placed.

Though never flashy, the size of some its suites is something one might boast about. Like our suite Vigna Alta in the borgo village “main street”, with massive lounge, massive bathroom with tub and shower including stone seat, dressing room, extra bathroom and the best of all a spacious terrace with sunbeds, dining table, sofa and views of Tuscan hills.

We also got the chance to see two borgo rooms with terrace (some do not have terraces). The room Fontaccia alta has stairs down to a suite  that opens out into a garden with a pizza oven. There is a little kitchen so the two can be rented together as a villa.

Of course the resort has a spa and a gym – and a kids  club (25 euro per hour)  – and families are made very welcome. The trattoria/Osteria is perfect for kids, very low key, with plenty of pizza and pasta naturally. We dined there deliriously – not just admiring the real taste of pizza with flours mixed according to the chef’s secret recipe, but the real taste of crisp freshly picked salad. 

Technology up to date, but some of its best features are its oldest – the church with its 12 century etchings, the belltower on the former priest’s house – now the bar and trattoria Osteria La Canonica where you can taste the full Brunello range. The magical ruined castle where you can watch even deeper red sunsets.

Other old treasures of Tuscany can be seen on excursions. Siena is about 40 minutes by car and Florence 1 hour 30 minutes. Montalcino is two hilltops away (and two valleys) – my memory is it  took us an hour on its unsurfaced road, but other reports say 15 minutes.  The hotel charges 50 euro per way for a trip to Montalcino so it can’t be too far. See the images in the gallery above and in the previous blog.


April 5, 2010 in SWEDEN | Comments (0)

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Easter brings memories of daffodils exploding from our earth. This Easter was less gold and more silver. Silver birdsong, silver ice, and snow still on the ground.

We drove to Ramshyttan Thursday night. The snow had already melted away in Stockholm. Here it was almost everywhere. It took hours of shovelling to get the wet snow off the deck. On Saturday the sky was blue and I sat entranced  listening to  threads of sound looping together in bare trees and across the sky. It’s silver, I thought. The birds twitter in high frequency silver sound…

We walked to Grindtorp Farm to fuss with horses. This weekend Arion was out practicing to draw a carriage – see picture.

The hot news is a lynx has been stealing deer from the deer farm. It does sound a  bit extreme to me – 30 deer gone in 3 months – and the deer even larger than the lynx. Maybe it was a combination of poaching and feline stealth? There is a very hot hunter’s lobby revolving around Ramshyttan. Sweden’s virulent hunter’s lobby has succeeded in getting the government to approve a big slaughter of  wolves on the pretext that they were getting inbred and we needed to open the way for Russian wolves to invigorate the stock. Post mortems of shot wolves showed they were in perfect health. Too late – they were already dead.  I still feel an ache when I think of the loss of wildness,  wolves that used to roam the forests around Ramshyttan bringing an aura of wild spirit. A couple of months back Svenska Dagbladet featured huge headlines “The wolves are approaching Stockholm”. The hunter’s lobby certainly got through to Svenska Dagbladet.

We ate dinner in the hunting lodge with our neighbours from the old “manor house”. The lodge is some 300 years old and breathes hunting history in stuffed animals and walls bristling with horns. Some have been taken down now. It used to look like a Hitchock version of The Horns – they seemed to be crawling down the walls towards you. The evening much given to stories of people getting locked out of hotel rooms. Our neighbour found himself locked into the corridor, reflected in a giant mirror – naked and not as slim as he remembered.

Ramshyttan is a picturesque village of wooden houses with a stream passing though. It has a history as a manufacturing community known for its  hoes – once exported all over the world. The stream rushes over two waterfalls, where once the mills turned. It is some 8 km from Nora, a quaint old lakeside town  with cobbled streets and cathedral rising into the sky.

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