To the Reschio – an Italian country retreat that leaves others for dust
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Fifteen hundred hectares of wooded hills, dotted with atmospheric ruins and almost entirely untouched by the post-industrial world, at the border between Umbria and Tuscany. This is the prima materia with which, in 1994, Antonio Bolza and his son Benedikt embarked on one of central Italy’s most ambitious ongoing rehabilitation projects.
Reschio – as the estate (run since the early 2000s by Benedikt and his Florentine wife, Nencia Corsini) is known – is many things; all of them are impressive. There’s a collection of impeccably restored, privately owned homes – 26 at last count, 10 of which are available for rentals – with a handful of sites waiting to be claimed and brought back to life. There are Reschio’s land initiatives (Corsini oversees the organic produce gardens and is at work on a self-irrigating set of rice terraces; Bolza handles landscape design; and Reschio’s gamekeeper manages the wild boar and deer populations which, sustainably hunted, provision the estate’s larders). There are its outrageously beautiful scuderie, the stables complete with indoor and outdoor training rings, where Bolza pater schools his Andalucian dressage horses (and where homeowners can take equitation lessons).
And, as of next April, there will be Reschio’s long-awaited hotel, housed in the 11th-century castle that the Bolza-Corsinis and their five children called home for almost a decade. Castello di Reschio has 36 rooms, spread between the multilevel castle itself and the parish attached to the impeccably reclaimed chapel that faces it (this makes a great buyout for families or groups).
Benedikt Bolza is an architect with an imprimatur that marries a clear mastery at leveraging natural light and a building’s extant good bones with refinement and a healthy dose of whimsy. Brocante pieces, restored and clad in rich velvets and nubbly natural linens, share space with sleek tables, divans and four-poster beds – in brass, marble, travertine, French oak – designed by Bolza himself. Portraits and objets and vintage wood mannequins abound; at least one altar is deployed as a decorative element. The glass conservatory-courtyard – dense with potted palms and a Gilded Age-inspired array of rattan and velvet settees – is almost too much for the remote Umbrian hills… but then actually, it’s not. In fact, the built environment here is pretty dazzling, down to the last handpainted reading lamp.
Tasteful Italian country hotels are not exactly in short supply, though this leaves many in its dust. What really distinguishes Reschio is the intelligent intent, along with the decades of straight-up hard work that the Bolzas have brought to the place – the land – itself. It’s been a while since I’ve seen anything comparably compelling.
reschio.com; weekly villa rentals on request, hotel opens 1 April with rooms from €680.
European élan down under
A few years ago, the Australian fashion designer Collette Dinnigan began turning her hand to interiors, restoring houses in Rome and Puglia, among other locations. The most recent project – a boon for Europe-starved Sydneysiders and Melburnians who can’t yet travel internationally – is Black Barn Bowral, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom retreat in New South Wales’s rolling Southern Highlands. Dinnigan sourced the furniture, textiles, cookware and accessories herself; the white-wood-and-leather palette and Continental flourishes (toile de Jouy, metal chandeliers, reclaimed Danish floorboards) culminate for a very stylish but totally relaxed whole.
blackbarnbowral.com, from A$690 (about £380) a night.
A haven on the Hudson
During Covid, the population drain from New York’s five boroughs in the direction of upstate was marked. Will some make it a permanent move? Probably. For others who just want the odd weekend escape, there’s downtown Hudson’s new star address: The Maker on Warren Street, the 18th-century whaling city’s antiques-and-craft café-lined main artery. Its 11 rooms are spread across three buildings totalling about 1,300sq m, so space is a primary indulgence. But not the only one: its co-owner (and co-founder of Fresh cosmetics) Lev Glazman, who oversaw design, has gone to town on the bespoke materials, fabrics and finishes. There are dark polished mantles, antique beds, and plush rugs and textiles in abundance – plus a killer custom bar and a restaurant housed in a purpose-built conservatory.
themaker.com, from $350.
Lost in Austen
A similar urban exodus happened in the UK, but London life rolls on – and anyone keen to venture into town for a break should look at Henry’s Townhouse, opening in November in the heart of Marylebone. The interior designer Russell Sage and his studio have had their quirky, high-style way with the seven bedroom suites at No 24 Upper Berkeley Street, a Georgian mansion that once belonged to Henry Austen, brother of Jane (a pedigree that informs the stories told by Sage’s flamboyant design). A cavernous kitchen and pantry with a generous communal table, two sitting rooms (one fitted with a chic cocktail alcove) and an outside terrace round out the picture. The most relevant USP, though? The sleeps-14 townhouse can be taken over as a private, staffed accommodation.
henrystownhouse.co.uk, from £450.
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