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Taste of Italy

Samantha Brooks

In 1949, Count Antonio Bolza fled Soviet-occupied Hungary, leaving his estate behind. Decades later, the nobleman finally found an appropriate site for a new family compound: in Italy, where his ancestors originated. "We discovered this farming estate with 50 farmhouses on 3,000 acres on the Umbria-Tuscany border," recalls Count Benedikt Bolza, Antonio’s son. After buying the land in 1994, Benedikt and his parents began renovating certain farmhouses for their clan and selling and restoring others for a select few outsiders.

To date, the Bolza family has occupied or sold all but 14 of the centuries-old dwellings on the estate, which is now an equestrian- and epicurean-focused private estate known as Castello di Reschio. The Bolzas work with the homeowners to restore the farmhouses—many of which are in ruins—as lavish wine-country retreats with sweeping views of Umbria’s undulating vineyards and verdant hillsides.

Among the recently revived structures is Villa Arrighi, the 6,600-square-foot, five-bedroom home profiled on these pages. The homeowner acquired the 1,000-year-old property—originally a medieval watchtower before its turn as a farmhouse—in 2008, when it was an empty shell without a roof. "It’s very difficult to renovate and improve upon these protected [historic] structures," notes Bolza, "so we tried to retain as much of the building’s original design as we could."

Villa Arrighi’s double-height living room, once part of the watchtower, features a 900-year-old sandstone fireplace (previous spread, top right) that complements the room’s polished sandstone floors. Next to the hearth, a bright red chair provides a dose of color and whimsy. A loft-style gallery overlooks the living area.

From an informal sitting area, an arch—once part of a cow stable—leads to the home’s large kitchen. The kitchen connects to the dining room (left), where a painting selected by the homeowner hangs above a table and chairs.

In the master bedroom, a sunburst headboard from France rests opposite an antique Chinese apothecary chest. A guest bedroom with a lavender footstool and accent pillows has a softer, more intimate feel.

Such distinctive touches define Villa Arrighi—and Castello di Reschio at large. A 45-person staff oversees the community’s stables, tennis courts, and restaurant, which serves only food that is cultivated on the estate—wild herbs, porcini mushrooms, truffles, eggs—or obtained from local suppliers. Staff members also look after the restored farmhouses while the owners are away.

"Our owners are looking for something beyond what you can get in a manufactured hotel experience," says Bolza. "There are few places on Earth where you can go to find high-quality services and amenities in such an accessible yet private setting. When the owners and guests come here, they can completely disappear."

FARM FRESH
Home: Villa Arrighi, a 6,600-square-foot retreat with five bedrooms, a large entertaining kitchen, and a swimming pool. Rents for about $23,000 per week.

Community: Castello di Reschio, a 3,000-acre private estate amid vineyards and olive groves in Italy’s Umbrian countryside. Fewer than half of the property’s 50 medieval farmhouses have been renovated, but only 14 remain available for sale. The average price for a farmhouse is about $8 million and includes the cost of restoration and landscaping (with a swimming pool).

Resort Amenities: Private-label winemaking by Castello di Reschio for homeowners using Sangiovese grapes from the estate’s vineyards; an equestrian center with stables and a dressage training facility; a restaurant; tennis courts; concierge services; and walking, biking, and riding trails.

Inquiries: Castello di Reschio, +39.075.844.362, www.reschio.com

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Photo by Janos Grapow