A certain romanticism between Tuscany and Umbria

A certain romanticism between Tuscany and Umbria

    (Reschio Castle by Sam Fishwick)

(Reschio Castle by Sam Fishwick)

We arrived at Castello di Reschio, a 1000 year old hilltop castle on the border between Tuscany and Umbria, just married. Few things could beat my marriage, but even my wife thinks Reschio may have done the impossible.

The 36-room hotel, which opened last year, is within easy reach of stunning locations such as Spoleto, Assisi, Gubbio, Cortona, Montepulciano, Florence, Siena and even Pisa. But once you’re here, why on earth would you want to leave? The estate itself is the size of Islington. White stallions, eager for adventure, can be saddled and ridden by the stables to explore its gentle oak and chestnut woods, lakes and olive groves (e-bikes are also available). The staff were the friendliest I have ever met. We felt less in a hotel, more like royalty.

It is not far from the mark. The estate was bought in 1994 – then in a state of decay – by Count Antonio Bolza, whose family was once ennobled by the Habsburgs. Count Benedikt, son of Antonio, a talented architect, restored 29 of the dilapidated farmhouses around the estate with his wife, Donna Nencia, selling them to wealthy aspiring Umbrians. They and their family lived on the property for 11 years before raising enough money to start turning their castle home into a res publica.

Time makes wonderful things here. Somewhere, 40 minutes by car from Perugia, the centuries slip away. The sun rises in the east in Umbria and sets in the west in Tuscany. Aside from the gentle interruption of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s all the time you’ll be doing. The pool, a shimmering disc that flows through the lush grass under the swollen maritime pines, is perhaps the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Inside the castle courtyard, a large glass conservatory of potted palms and plush sofas welcomed us to another world.

Our room was, frankly, bigger than our London apartment. I long for his study, oak country bed, cavernous dressing room and bar (no television is also an admirable choice). Etruscan window seats, tall steel fire grates, claw-footed bathtubs, and otherworldly Poggibonsi lamps are all crafted from local materials and built in the estate’s workshops – and designed by the count. In fact, everything was designed ad hoc for Reschio or taken from some neighboring market country. I have never been to a place that is not only so vast and imposing, but with such exquisite care taken into every little décor.

Some of the happiest hours of our life are spent in the bathhouse, a magical cave nestled in the ancient cellar of the castle. There we were massaged beside a flickering hearth and left to wallow like smug hippos in a candlelit Roman bath. At mealtimes we dined like royalty at the Alle Scuderie restaurant. He thinks of game ragu with homemade tagliatelle, sea bass all’isolana with courgettes and local potatoes and a fantastic chocolate tiramisu. Nic Fiddian-Green’s sculptures (he of Marble Arch’s horse’s head) bejewel the gardens like giant chess pieces. An Umbrian jazz band tinkled as we sat on the restaurant terrace looking out over the lush Niccone valley below, enjoying the estate’s wines. If only, between the Venetian silk slippers and the Florentine sun hats woven in the castle workshop, there was an ‘I heart Reschio’ t-shirt to take home.

Castello di Reschio Hotel rooms starting from £ 685, breakfast included (reschio.com)

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