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Best of the Best 2013: Vacation Homes: Castello di Casole

  • Sandra Ramani

Once the estate of Siena’s noble Bargagli family—and, later, the famed film director Luchino Visconti—Castello di Casole occupies 4,200 undulating acres within an hour’s drive of Florence, Siena, and Chianti. Now a resort community operated by Timbers Resorts, the property encompasses a new boutique hotel and a collection of residences that have literally risen from the ruins of this classic Tuscan landscape.

Real estate options at Castello di Casole, one of several upscale vacation-home communities from the Colorado-based Timbers, include centuries-old farmhouses (starting at about $7.2 million for full ownership and $651,000 for a one-twelfth share); two- and three-bedroom villas (from about $4.8 million for full ownership and $442,000 for a one-twelfth share); and a three-bedroom fractional-ownership penthouse (six shares at about $980,000 each).

Scattered throughout the estate, the farmhouses range from 4,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet and have been restored or reconstructed from ruins using traditional methods and reclaimed stone and timber. The homes’ traditional Tuscan design—exposed wood beams, barrel-vaulted ceilings, alfresco wood ovens and fireplaces, ceramic and terra-cotta tiles—is complemented by contemporary amenities that include glass-tiled infinity-edge pools. Layouts and color schemes vary, but most of the farmhouses have arched, floor-to-ceiling picture windows; chef’s kitchens; oversize bathtubs; and outdoor lounging spaces.

The restoration of Castello di Casole’s farmhouses is an ongoing project that started in 2005, when architects and designers from Timbers’s in-house team and the Hilton Head, S.C.–based J. Banks Design Group began enlisting Italian artisans to help source materials such as travertine marble, Bisazza mosaics, and alabaster from nearby Volterra. Rubelli in Venice supplied many of the textiles for the residences, and antiques and vintage decorative pieces—including wrought iron birdcages—were sourced by dealers and auction houses throughout Italy.

Of the 28 farmhouses being restored and reconstructed, all 16 of the finished residences have sold (more will launch this year). Limited ownership opportunities still remain for Castello di Casole’s 10 villas, which are more contemporary in design but were refurbished using the same level of craftsmanship as the farmhouses.

Anchoring the Castello di Casole community is the property’s namesake hotel, which opened in July 2012 within a restored 10th-century castle. The 41-room property offers multiple dining options, a clubby bar, and an expansive spa.

Castello di Casole also has its own vineyards and olive groves, and it maintains a private reserve where owners can forage for mushrooms or hunt for wild game. In addition to such basics as around-the-clock security and daily housekeeping, owner perks at the community include temperature-controlled wine storage, sommelier-managed cellars, and exclusive purchasing opportunities of a limited allotment of the estate’s private-label wines. A car and driver are also available for round-trip transport to nearby wineries, as well as to Siena, Florence, and many other Tuscan treasures.

Castello di Casole, 888.892.1278, www.castellodicasole.com