Refreshingly Interesting: Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany – Hotel Review

By Luke Abrahams

12 months ago

‘Tuscany meets island Bali living – yes, really’


Sexy and lush to a tee, Castello di Vicarello is a true refuge to unwind in, says Luke Abrahams. And, thanks to its twelfth century digs ruling the suite spot roost, is just about one of the most genuine castle revamps Tuscany has to offer. 

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Hotel Review: Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany

The castello at sunset

Remote, down-to-earth and quintessentially Italian, Castello di Vicarello trumps all the other big castellos with its no fuss luxe attitude to mediaeval throwback living. The rolling hills of Toscana are your backdrop, with vineyards, stone farm shacks and blue skies stretching for as far as your little eyes can see. The vibe? Brothers Neri and Brando are the kings of the castle having succeeded their much adored (and exceedingly well-connected) parents Carlo and Aurora Baccheschi. 

It’s all very glossy magazine – Lara Stone famously did a shoot for Vogue here, and Mario Testino joins the rest of the media glitterati (think hotshot Americans, chic Dontatellas and the unassuming London set) for their summer escapes – yet there’s not a whiff of toff about the place whatsoever.

Infinity pool at Castello di Vicarello

You’ll be on a first name basis by the time you check out. Here, you are made to feel part of the family, so don’t expect a whiff of formality here. There’s no eye-rolling check-in, and your first encounter with any form of life comes in the form of the pooch of the castle, the lovely and exceptionally well behaved Uva. It’s all a little bit ad-hoc, but that’s the point and very much the Italian way.

But perhaps the best thing about this place is the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere. With unplugging the topic du jour of the moment, zen’s antidote comes in the form of bumpy dirt roads and a heck of a lot of flora and fauna. The closest smidge of human life comes courtesy of the small village of Cinigiano, a typical hilltop fortress which, come snoozing hours, is quite literally a ghost town.

STAY

It’s Tuscany meets island Bali living – yes, really. The house of Baccheschi have owned this glorious fortress since the 1970s and, over the years, have left their mark in every crevice and every crack gracing their family home’s walls. Everything from the castle to the surrounding mish mash of stone buildings have been blissfully restored to preserve the heritage of its architectural bones. 

A bed with the sun

Inside and out, a picture of quintessential Tuscan living reigns supreme: cutesy kitchen draped in linens (plus a period stove), lounge kitted out with totems from Indonesia to Malaysia, corridors lit with gloomy candles and grand cast-iron chandeliers, and a conservatory featuring knockout views of the hills. 

The suites are just as eclectic. None are the same, but expect Indonesian daybeds, antique Persian rugs, modern art pieces and intricately carved wooden vintage chest that shriek wow. Copper tin (and marble) baths are also part of the deal, and if you find yourself in the Hollywood-esque Chiesina apartment, a lovely pergola donning exceptional breezy views overlooking the countryside.

Suite Sassi living room

Suite Sassi living room

DO

Surprisingly, and aside from lounging by the stonkingly gorgeous pool, there’s a lot to do out in the sticks. Cooking lessons in the kitchen, horseback riding in the valley, yoga, massages in the wood-lined spa, wine tasting in the vineyards and barbecues at the familial coastal estate headline the roster of fun offered by the Baccheschis. My advice? Ditch it all for a spin in the estate’s vintage Cinquecento. All guests can take the charming little motor out for a spin on request, day or night. It’s best summed up as la dolce vita to the max and perhaps this Castello’s prime Instagram opp. Pack a glam scarf, a pair of cool shades and, if you’re feeling the part, a picnic to live out all your Italian fantasies up on a hill come sunset. 

Horse riding

EAT

Farm to table is the ethos through and through. Sustainable living is not a trend here but, since the castello opened up for business, the hotel has sourced from local farmers, nurtures herbs from their Italian gardens and picks all the fruits of the annual Tuscan harvest. Ingredients are also picked fresh from the veggie garden, eggs collected from the chicken coop and breads baked at the crack of dawn. Chefs make it a priority to ensure local suppliers deliver the goods when they can’t scoop up the meat on the estate, and – as is the Tuscan way – the seasons dictate whatever appears on the menu.

collecting vegetables

All the grub is simple, hearty, painstakingly traditional and to the point. Al dente homemade pastas (the pici with wild boar is a standout) and the Fiorentina are must-trys, plus the excellent wine pairings and crusty breads served with local olive oil make it a meal to remember. Breakfast? A light affair with fresh fruits, cakes, juices and scrumptious jams.

Lunch spread

THE FINAL WORD

It’s sexy, unpretentious and in a country known for its exceptionally chic grand dames, offers something a little more unique, quizzically fun and, dare I say it, refreshingly interesting from the rest of its stuffy competition.

BOOK IT

castellodivicarello.com