Just outside Florence, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi breathes new life into an abandoned medieval hamlet.
In the heart of Tuscany lies Montaione, an ancient Florentine village that was rendered a ghost town in the 1960s, when denizens ditched their agricultural roots in favor of nearby Florence’s glitz and glamour. Its 800-year-old castle, rural tobacco fields and charming farmhouses were all but left to gather dust—until 2007, when TUI, Europe’s leading travel company—along with Italian architects—decided to undertake a massive $350 million renovation to restore this historic country escape to its former glory. The resulting “lifestyle” estate, Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, offers visitors an authentic dolce vita experience. (Existing buildings are being refurbished rather than torn down, and less than 1 percent of the 2,700-acre property is being developed.) Rent or purchase, for example, one of 18 thoughtfully restored casalis (farmhouses) surrounded by sun-drenched fields, fete a wedding at the newly redesigned medieval castle in the town’s center or dine on gourmet pasta at La Rocca di Castelfalfi restaurant, run by Michele Rinaldi (formerly of Michelin-starred All’Acquacotta Restaurant at Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort).
The once-sleepy tobacco factory has been converted into a modern boutique hotel, named La Tabaccaia, complete with a tennis court, swimming pool and 27-hole golf course, while residential apartments, artisanal shops, bars and a wood-burning pizzeria have regenerated inside the Borgo—with more hotels opening starting in 2016. Interested in exploring more traditional Tuscan pastimes? At the Casale Falecine lodge, which dates back to 1890, you can hunt game (including wild boar, pheasants, partridges and quail) or forage the 1,482-acre grounds for truffles. Think of it as travel, upcycled. castelfalfi.co.uk.
Written by Roopika Malhotra.
PHOTOS: Courtesy Toscana Resort Castelfalfi.