Escape From Reality at Castello di Casole, Tuscany – Review

By Kirsty Nutkins

11 months ago

A Tuscan grand dame with a top-notch spa


Occupying a dreamy 10th century castle in the rolling Tuscan countryside, Castello di Casole is arguably the region’s most luxurious – and beautiful – hotel. And its 4,200 acre estate, comprising sun-dappled vineyards and olive groves, is one of the largest private estates in Italy. But this is only part of its charm; you can also expect great cuisine, a top notch spa and unique guest experiences. Its sustainability initiatives bring this historic property firmly into the 21st century, too.

Review: Castello di Casole, Tuscany

STAY

The wow factor begins from the moment we arrive at Belmond Castello di Casole. After driving up a cypress-lined road, we step out and take in its imposing honey-hued facade and the beautiful rose garden – one of the property’s newest additions, which has been planted with 6,000 blooms, including a special Castello di Casole rose. We are then welcomed through to the courtyard, where we complete check-in in the sunshine, breathing in the sweet scent from the many potted plants and flowers, with a glass of prosecco in hand.

The site of Castello di Casole dates from the Etruscan period (some Etruscan treasures have even been found here) but it was owned and reconstructed during the 19th and 20th centuries by the noble Bargagli family of Siena and was a working farm and village, with a school, church and priest’s house. More recently, the family of Luchino Visconti owned Castello di Casole and the likes of Burt Lancaster and Sophia Loren spent lavish holidays here in the company of the famous Italian director. 

bedroom at Castello di Casole

The hotel’s 39 suites are located in the castle and surrounding buildings, and there are also 28 restored farmhouses dotted throughout the grounds, which can be rented as private villas with hotel service. 

We stay in an expansive Limonaia suite – one of five in the former lemon house, which used to shelter the estate’s lemon trees in cooler weather. Arranged over two storeys, there is a living area at entrance level, descending into the wood-beam ceilinged bedroom and en suite, which has floor to ceiling windows and opens out onto a private terrace. This, in turn, benefits from a large garden, which is backed by views over the rolling Tuscan countryside. 

As with all rooms at Castello di Casole, the suite is decorated in earthy tones, with custom made linens, an antique headboard and super soft mattress, while the bathroom has a freestanding tub and separate modern shower. 

Castello di Casole

DO

The famous wineries of the Chianti Classico can be reached in half an hour, and Siena, Volterra and San Gimignano are only 40 minutes away. Or if you fancy sticking closer to home, you can explore the grounds and nearby villages on foot or on the hotel mountain bikes. Otherwise, the resort can organise sunset ‘safari’ tours of the grounds, meditative walks and star-gazing experiences, where expert astronomers explain the constellations.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Castello di Casole offers all kinds of unique experiences for guests, such as Tuscan watercolour classes, wine tasting (the estate produces its own vintage) and cooking lessons using ingredients foraged from two brand new kitchen gardens. These educate participants on the importance of including seasonal ingredients and adopting the Tuscan approach of incorporating leftovers to reduce waste. Other workshops include herbal tea and traditional Etruscan remedy making, and an eco-printing class, where you can create your own silk scarf using plants from the gardens. 

If this all sounds too taxing, then you can simply relax and soak up the panoramic vista from the outdoor heated infinity pool or head to the spa, set in the ancient wine cellars, for a treatment using local ingredients like rosemary, grapes, honey and olive oil. 

Castello di Casole

EAT

Book a memorable meal on the outdoor terrace at Tosca restaurant, which has dramatic views over the Tuscan hills. Executive Chef Daniele Sera’s à la carte menu offers typical Tuscan dishes, including homemade pasta, locally sourced meat, fresh seafood and estate-grown extra virgin olive oil. And for an aperitif or post-dinner drink, there’s Bar Visconti, named after the former owner of the estate.

Food on a table at Castello di Casole

The Pool Grill and Bar, located next to the pool, is perfect for a more informal lunch, too, with a menu featuring grilled meat, vegetables, salads, pizza and pasta. And during the summer months, the castle’s inner courtyard comes alive every Friday night for their Dinner under the Stars series, where local produce is whipped up on cooking stations to a soundtrack of live Italian music. 

FINAL WORD

It’s hard to think of a more idyllic spot in all of Tuscany. Castello di Casole is one of the most painstakingly and beautifully converted properties in the region, providing all the trappings of a luxury hotel while retaining its sense of history and natural beauty. It’s the perfect place to relax and switch off.

BOOK IT

belmond.com