By John O’Ceallaigh
I hadn’t planned to write anything for LUTE this morning, but I was then reminded that Reschio Estate opens today in Italy and found myself daydreaming about the property. Resorts like this don’t – can’t – come around frequently. And while we might all be stuck at home just a little while longer, the imagery below made me want to immediately want to plan a trip to Italy.
Short story: Reschio occupies a thousand-year-old castle that stands on a 3,700-acre estate in Umbria, a two-hour drive from Florence.The building was bought by Count Antonio Bolza in the 90s and his family have been busily restoring the surrounding grounds since 1994; restoring the castle alone has taken four years. The hotel’s current custodians are Antonio’s son Count Benedikt, an architect, and his artist wife Donna Nencia. The couple lived in the castle for years with their five children. The restored building will now operate as a 36-room hotel, with an emphasis on slow, laidback living and immersion in the surrounding landscape.
Slightly longer story: Count Benedikt took personal responsibility for every architectural decision relating to the conversion of the estate into a resort, with that remit extending into interior design, garden and landscaping design, and the creation of bespoke furniture, lighting and accessories.
I can think of a few hotels where their rich owners have taken a similar approach and it doesn’t always end well, but things seem to have turned out beautifully here. The family enlisted local artisans, carpenters, stonemasons and tilemakers to assist with the build; heirlooms, artefacts and original features found throughout include stucco work, stone-carved fireplaces and antique artworks. Italian linens are used throughout, furniture is handcrafted, open windows look over the central courtyard garden and the valleys that ring this hilltop property. (If they don’t wish to stay in the castle, guests also have the option of staying in one of nine former farmhouses, spread across the estate and now available to hire as holiday homes.)
That surrounding landscape will also provide much of what guests will consume during their stay. Reschio’s farm-to-fork approach means most produce will be sourced from the estate’s organic garden, vineyards and beehives. They’ll enjoy “traditional dishes eminent of a bygone era at Ristorante Al Castello”, while the more modern, glass-walled Palm Court and adjoiing bar will serve afternoon tea and cocktails. Il Torrino, an old watchtower near the swimming pool, will serve a casual all-day menu; Ristorante Alle Scuderie offers simple Italian staples.
It’s hard to have a bad meal in Italy, so that all sounds really promising, but I like the look and sound of The Bathhouse too. Within an ancient vaulted wine cellar, Reschio’s spa was inspired by Roman baths and features a salt-water plunge pool, hammam and sauna. Those who book treatments in its Private Room will have exclusive use of its tepidarium, steam shower and two tubs (and staff will be happy to light the fire in its old fireplace too).
Outside, there’ll be hiking and cycling trails to explore, and tennis to play; nature walks will be led by the estate’s game keeper; clay-pigeon shooting and truffle hunting will be possibilities. A secluded lake will welcome wild swimmers. More unusually, the estate will also feature an equestrian centre, home to some of Italy’s most capable dressage horses. Guests can book lessons or attend evening performances to see the animals in action.
It all sounds very special to me, and is one of many new knockout properties emerging this summer that will provide an enticement to return to Italy “as soon as it is safe to do so”. Three hours south of Reschio, near Rome, Palazzo Fiuggi is launching this summer as one of the country’s most advanced health resorts. On the Amalfi Coast, intimate Borgo Santandrea extends down a cliff face and offers incredible sea views from its 45 bedrooms and suites. In Tuscany, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco reopens on June 2 with 19 new private suites and a renovated restaurant. In Palermo, Rocco Forte Hotels opens Villa Igiea in June; also in Sicily, Four Seasons is expected to open its San Domenico Palace property, housed in a 14th-century convent in Taormina and overlooking Mount Etna, in July.
B&B rates at Reschio cost from €760 per night.