Stunning New Hotel Alert: The Belmond Castello di Casole Opens in Tuscany
If you had to be dropped somewhere in the middle of Tuscany, you could surely do worse than to find yourself in Casole D’Elsa. Just 60km from Firenze, 30km from Siena, and dancing along the edge of the ethereal Chianti wine region, it dates all the way back to the 10th Century. The surrounding area also boasts lofty cultural cred, its grounds being trod by the likes of Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham Carter in Where Angels Fear to Tread; Judi Dench and Cher in Tea With Mussolini; and Keanu Reeves and Kate Beckinsdale in Kenneth Branagh‘s Much Ado About Nothing.
Into this now comes what is surely Toscana’s most opulent new hotel, the Belmond Castello di Casole – which opened last month after a very careful restoration. No mere converted farmhouse, make no mistake, this is a castle (thus the name). And its wondrously sprawling estate of 4200 acres literally contains an actual game preserve, where you may find yourself crossing paths with a friendly deer or bunny or two.
A cypress-lined path (ah, Tuscany) leads to the entrance, and once inside, you’ll find stone walls, wood beams, handsome terracotta, Carrara marble…all richly preserved. And for all the visual and sybaritic glories that are just a short taxi ride away, the possibility that one might check in and never leave the grounds is a distinct one. Indeed, 39 rustically elegant rooms are done up in earthy yet regal tones, graced with antiques and uncluttered layouts – with beds designed for long periods of flopping lazily.
Elsewhere, an Essere Spa boasts seven pampering suites, offering such transformative sounding treatments as the Etruscan facial lift, detox lymphatic massage, and the Di-Vino body scrub. And since Tuscany is for epicures, breakfast and dinner indulgences can be taken amidst the ornate Murano chandeliers at Tosca; while an outpost of Venice’s celeb-magnet Cip’s by Cipriani offers casual cool lunch and dinner looking out over the rolling Tuscan hills – a cliché of the very best kind.
Still and all, nothing in this ineffable region of Italy has ever so moved us as watching the sunrise over the Elsa Valley down below. So we strenuously suggest rising early, securing the perfect vantage point, and letting your life be changed forever. As one might expect, the view is included in the room rate – but it’s worth at least a small fortune.