2015 UH Summer Lifestyles — Alexander Romanenko_MINI_MAG_SUMMER_2015
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The Renaissance Of A Tuscan Village
Kimberly Turner

Ancient castles, farmhouses and land are morphed into a resort paradise.

An 800-year-old medieval Tuscan village in the province of Florence is connecting past with the present as it undergoes a careful restoration into a residential and resort property. “There are many neglected villages in Italy that are now almost ruins,” says Stefan Neuhaus, CEO of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi. “These represent the heritage of our nation, something we must preserve and show to future generations.”

The 250 million-euro project, spearheaded by TUI AG and set for completion in 2018, encompasses converting the 2,700-acre estate’s abandoned farmhouses and old tobacco factory into beautiful Tuscan residences and remodeling castles and the property with Tuscan-inspired amenities. Once the home of Italy’s Medici family, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi is animated with rich history, and the project aims to preserve the region’s rural character.

“Both the Casale I Bianchi and La Valle castles went through a careful renovation thanks to the precious work of caring craftsmen that cleaned and brushed all the stone façades and beamed ceilings; removed, repaired and put back in place every single roof tile like a big puzzle; and updated these century- old buildings into modern residences,” says Neuhaus. “After the renovation, a team of designers fully furnished them with contemporary and comfortable interiors, ideally to enhance the structure and architecture of these houses full of history and memories of times gone by.”

In addition to the residences for purchase and rent, the resort is open to visitors who dine at the restaurants, participate in wine and olive oil tastings (there are 30 acres of vineyards and 10,000 olive trees on the property) and enjoy the swimming pool, gym and soon-to-open spas, as well as hiking, horseback riding and biking trails.

“Castelfalfi is now back to its former splendor, and has been updated to offer visitors and inhabitants all you would expect from a luxury resort — from panoramic swimming pools to breathtaking golf courses to fine dining and unforgettable excursions,” says Neuhaus. “Everything preserves the authenticity of an original Tuscan borgo.”

The Medieval Borgo (Village)

Among the many projects, the property will also encompass a main street filled with boutique shops, ancient gardens, cafes and farmer’s markets, which will be the core of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi. It stretches from the S. Florian church (that dates back to the 12th century) to the ancient Longobardic Castle. The castle (which opened in June 2014) is the heart of the village and includes the La Rocca di Castelfalfi restaurant and the Rosso Toscano Cooking School, which will offer a range of options for half-day and seven-day courses. The cooking school will explore the varied cuisines of Italy.

“Having the possibility to take lessons from a young Michelin-starred chef is something quite unique and will allow guests to bring back home a taste of Tuscany that will always remind them of this memorable experience,” says Neuhaus.

In the future, the castle will also include a wine bar, cigar lounge, dine-in theater and artisan shop.

Transformed Farmhouses

Each farmhouse (casali) will be converted into a rustic villa, with 18 available on site. Two of the casalis have been renovated and now are available for weekly rentals and two barns that were part of the same properties already have been sold. Upon purchase, buyers will work with the developer to plan the renovation of their property.

“Both owners have bought the properties with the intention of using them as a second home,” says Neuhaus. “They completely adhere to our idea of renovation and conservation, and have chosen for their houses finishes similar to those of Casale I Bianchi and La Valle.”

The sizes range from 3,000 to 15,000 square feet and each plot of land will include an outdoor swimming pool. There also is a possibility that a farmhouse may be divided into smaller residences or apartments with communal gardens and pool areas.

Tobacco Factory Turned Hotel

The former factory that dried tobacco for Tuscan cigars has been given new life as a three-star, 31-room boutique hotel, and it is the first of a couple hotels planned for development. Each of the charming rooms is Tuscan in design, boasting restored oak wood beams and tiled ceilings dating back to the building’s original construction. “A modern reflection of the hotel’s rich past, its furnishings promise comfort and enhance its modest, yet stylish décor,” says Neuhaus. The hotel also has three meeting rooms that can accommodate intimate groups of up to 12 people.

On-Site Golf

Toscana Resort Castelfalfi encompasses a golf course nestled between the olive groves. Remodeled in 2010 by award-winning architects Moroder and Preissmann, the 18-hole mountain course includes 6,351 meters. A second nine-hole, lakeside course was added in November 2011, designed by Rainer Preissmann. In addition, there is a driving range with three teeing grounds, 10 covered drives, two putting greens and a short pitch area.

“I think the golf course is spectacular with its magnificent views and incredible paths,” says Neuhaus.

Looking Ahead

A new borgo, La Collina, is in development this year. The village will host 27 new homes, integrated within the environmental context. In the same complex, there also will be renovation of seven ancient farmhouses that will have views over the Volterra and Tuscan countryside. Additionally, Casale Casicala, a castle immersed in the game reserve near the medieval village, is being renovated. “The community that is emerging in Castelfalfi is an international mix of cultures and habits,” says Neuhaus. “What fascinates me is really the renaissance of this ghost town that is now a small gem in the heart of one of the most fascinating regions of Italy.”
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