At the heart of Tuscany, in the Valdarno region, an idealized vision of traditional Tuscan life has emerged. An hour away from Peretola Airport in Florence, Il Borro, a medieval estate -turned-contemporary-leisure resort and winery sprawls through the countryside caressed by the nearby Pratomagno mountains. Located in Arezzo, at the bend of the Arno River on its way to the Tuscan capital, the bucolic environment easily sets the mood for a relaxing vacation in the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. The property is operated by Salvatore Ferragamo, grandson of the founder of the famed Florentine luxury brand, who has meticulously restored it after years of abandon and neglect.
Since the 1950’s Italians have been at the forefront of a new concept in travel. Agriturismo –a combination of the Italian words for agriculture and tourism– has taken over the Italian countryside: rural vacations where the guests get closer to nature in quaint guesthouses and restored villas. These vacations are a favorite of families with children, as guests usually immerse themselves in the local culture and lifestyle.
For that very same reason, agriturismi also work wonders with couples looking for a romantic getaway. Il Borro Estate takes this concept to a higher level. With refined villas furnished with every comfort, country farmhouses immersed in vineyards and sunflower fields, and traditional Tuscan village apartments, all the options lead to the same objective: “to find moments of pure relaxation in an oasis of tranquility far from the frenzy of everyday life.” If to this we add delightful cuisine and homegrown wines, the experience couldn’t be more worthwhile.
For years, the Ferragamo family rented the estate, owned by Duke Amadeo D’Aosta, for hunting vacations. In 1993 the opportunity arose to buy the entire property, including the ruined village and the grand villa, which had been partially destroyed during World War II. The country estate has now been restored to the antique splendor that was lost in time to develop two major projects: offering its guests a unique experience of luxury accommodations, and fine wine tastings to make their stay at Il Borro unforgettable.
The landscape surrounding the estate blooms with cypress trees, olive groves and vineyards, while picturesque towns and villages offer a glimpse of traditional Tuscan life. But the bucolic estate remains the protagonist of any trip here. Its postcard-perfect location, near the ancient Via Clodia, is steep in Medieval history. Guests can attend cooking classes, visit the winery, hunt for wild boar and pheasant, visit the castles and abbeys of Valdarno, retrace the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, experience a thrilling trip in a hot-air balloon, participate in a workshop organized by artisans of Il Borro’s medieval village, or simply relax by the pool in luxurious comfort. Tennis, horseback riding and golf are available nearby for more athletic visitors, and the beauty and relaxation treatments at La Corte Spa complement a hard day at the courts. The two village restaurants Vin Café and Osteria del Borro complete the Tuscan adventure with delightful cuisine that boasts farm-to-table, zero-mile ingredients.
There is a little of Tuscany in all of us, even if we do not recognize it. This northern Italian region has left an indelible mark in our perception of high culture. Known for its pastoral landscapes, fine wines and iconic cuisine, Tuscany has been home to illustrious Italians like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Petrarch, Puccini, the Medici, Botticelli and others. This culture hub opts for a balance of tradition and innovation, or what can be called historic modernity. Il Borro Estate epitomizes the Tuscan dolce vita in a setting fit for the heirs of the finest Italian fashion houses. ■