September 2011 – Imagine a mediaeval village set in the lush Tuscan hills – this is Il Borro, an estate belonging to the Ferragamo family, who fully restored the property while retaining their century old facades.
Upon arrival at Il Borro‘s gates, Mr. King and I were greeted by the rows of majestic tall trees that lined the gravel driveway under the Tuscan sun.
Il Borro sat on 700 hectares, and comprised of 3 villas and several suites and apartments, converted from farmhouses or set inside stone buildings. The suites and apartments were clustered around the Piazzetta (little Piazza) while the villas were scattered across the estate.
We stayed at one of the suites, Granaio which had warm, rustic Tuscan décor.
It included a living and dining room, kitchen, bedroom and a bathroom (which rivaled the bedroom in size).
The village possessed a mediaeval charm with its stony pathways and 19th century architecture. A handful of artisans specializing in gold, jewelry, shoes and artworks occupied the few shops, which line its narrow street. A small chapel was situated at the center of the Piazza.
Aside from the lap pool at La Corte (wellness center), there were also two swimming pools located inside the village, providing the added convenience.
Villa Il Borro
Villa Il Borro (I called it ,“the pink mansion”) was located at the heart of the Estate, on elevated grounds above the La Corte, with superb views of the village. Mr. King & I were fortunate to be given a tour of its interior which featured 6 en-suite bedrooms plus living & dining room, study, Turkish bath, billiard room, kitchen, laundry rooms. Its opulent and elegant décor was a strong contrast to the rustic Granaio we were staying in. It was the perfect villa for a large group, perhaps staying for a wedding.
According to Riccardo (who worked at the estate), Villa Il Borro used to be occupied by the Ferragamo family, but had since been made available to guests. Riccardo told us that the Ferragamo family had moved to the adjacent white villa, which used to be a church. Black iron gates surrounded the premises of this white mansion, and it was not opened for viewing. From the well-groomed gardens, one could see that it was a stately home.
Food, Wellness & Activities –
The center of activity was VinCafè Restaurant and La Corte – wellness center and spa. Every morning, Mr. King & I enjoyed a healthy breakfast at VinCafe, which also served lunch and light snacks throughout the day.
We spent our first two days, just relaxing and getting ourselves reenergized. The spa, which had only two treatment rooms, provided us with an intimate experience in a tranquil setting. Il Borro offered an array of activities such as horseback riding, trail-walking, golf, wild boar hunting etc., but we were contented to chill by the pool.
On the days when we made day excursions, we headed to the outlet shops at The Mall (30 minutes away) or made our way to Cortona, (1 ½ hours away). Other wineries in nearby Chianti were certainly worth a visit. Siena and the famous mediaeval town of San Gimignano are also within an hour’s drive.
For dinner, we did not have to venture far, but down the lane to Osteria del Borro, which served traditional Italian cuisine. And of course, the wine list was excellent!
Il Borro, Wine
Speaking of wine, the estate has dedicated a portion of its property to the cultivation of vineyards. It produces wines under the Il Borro name. Mr. King & I also took a tour of the wine cellar, wine production facilities and the family’s private museum. At the time of our visit, the museum featured an exhibition of antique prints (ink on paper artworks with the wine/wine-making theme) form the 15th to 19th century.
Having conceptualized Il Borro from scratch, Salvatore Ferragamo, the great grandson of the famed patriarch by the same name, is at the helm and is CEO of Il Borro. He maintains a home on the estate where he and his family visit on the weekends.
Il Borro (www.ilborro.com) was designed as a resort, spa and winery. It is the ideal Tuscan retreat!
All photos were taken by Mrs. King.