Casali di Casole Blog

Buying Property in Italy (Without Going Insane)

Buying property that you wish to restore and enhance in Italy has long been synonymous with headaches, heartaches and years of frustration. Ask anyone who has tried to “go it alone” and they will tell you about the tangled web of bureaucracy, the snail’s pace of contractors, and the unfortunate surprises that happen when you try to bring a 400-year-old home up to 21st century standards.

They will tell that it is a lot like Under the Tuscan Sun … only worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Farms at Castello di Casole ©Timbers Resorts

The Anecdotes Are Everywhere

For many, the dream of owning property in Italy — especially in the Tuscan countryside — is too powerful to resist. Yet countless barriers often make this dream seem like a mirage.

“We know of someone who bought an estate in Todi,” says Bret Robins, the Director of Real Estate at Castello di Casole – A Timbers Resort. “He had purchased a beautiful property, then spent four years trying to permit and entitle the property. At the end of the day, he hadn’t even finished the villa before he put it back on the market. It became a full-time job that he just didn’t want.”

And as writer Nicholas Farrell soberly put it when sharing his personal experience in a column for The Telegraph UK, “you have to be patient otherwise you will go insane.” Farrell’s efforts to buy a five-bedroom home near Ravenna were meticulously chronicled in a separate article, in which he details the previous 15 months of agonizing back-and-forth with the seller, the surveyor, and the local authorities, all because of a centuries-old barn without modern-day documentation. Ultimately, he was presented with three choices: tear down the beautiful building, back out of the transaction, or keep pursuing legal action.

But, as he points out, “the average time the courts take to resolve a civil action in Italy is 2,000 days — seven years — according to figures just out.”

The Farms at Castello di Casole ©Timbers Resorts

A Better Way ...

So what’s a dreamer to do?

Rising from the morass of Italian second-home ownership is Castello di Casole – A Timbers Resort. The 4,200-acre estate west of Siena is a clear alternative with its latest offering – The Farms. Scattered across the sprawling estate, these 100- to 160-acre farms can be purchased, renovated and customized completely to the Owner’s exacting standards — with all the paperwork and contractor consulting handled by Timbers Resorts.

“Owning one of these farms can truly become a creative experience for Owners,” says Robins. “The entitlements are already in place, the permitting we handle — they can just be creative and make the farm what they want it to be.”

And while Castello di Casole has won recognition for its preservation efforts across the estate, Owners of the farms can have significant leeway to design these homes the way they want.

The Farms at Castello di Casole ©Timbers Resorts

“We’ve had clients go very modern with the interior decor, others stay true to the Tuscan look,” Bret continues. “And we have had a client who opted for a French-country feel to their design. We've even seen Owners convert their farm’s out-building to accommodate gyms and yoga studios.”

One-of-a-Kind Amenities

The farms include vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and wheat fields, all situated around a luxury farmhouse that serves as a genuine escape from it all.

“If you look out over the landscape of Castello di Casole, it looks very much as it did 300 years ago,” Bret adds. The fields, vineyards and forests are important to preserve for this reason, and many of the entitlements determine what these plots of land can be used for. But many of the Owners delight in creating a vision for their land. “If we have an Owner come to us, asking to increase the olive orchard on their land by 1 or 2 hectares, we have the flexibility to do that.”

Add to this the prospect of enjoying all of the resort amenities and fine dining at Castello di Casole — which was recently recognized by the readers of Travel + Leisure as the Best Resort in Europe and best Hotel in Italy for the 5th year in a row — and Owners at The Farms have it all.

Except for the headaches, that is.

Learn More

Discover ownership opportunities at The Farms at Castello di Casole, as well as full ownership of villas, by visiting our website and contacting our team to arrange a visit.

 

Reasons to Visit Tuscany in Summer 2017

As you begin to eye upcoming travel plans, take a second look at Tuscany in summer 2017. There are plenty of reasons that this is the perfect year to visit. From timeless annual rites — such as Il Palio in Siena or the 1398 Medieval Festival in Volterra — to this-year-only events, you should consider making your travel plans soon.

Below you’ll find five reasons to enjoy la dolce vita this summer, including special events and packages at the five-star Casali di Casole — the perfect base to explore the best of Tuscany.

1. Gate of Heaven Tour in Siena

Even in a nation saturated with stunning churches and cathedrals, Siena’s Duomo is a show-stopper. In 2017, visitors are being granted exclusive access to some of the Duomo’s most hidden chambers.

The soaring interior of Siena's Duomo. ©Kevin Day

From now until November 1, the Gate of Heaven Tour will grant a limited amount of visitors access to attic rooms that have previously been closed to the public. The tour includes views over the city from the Duomo’s cupola, as well as a high vantage point over the nave, which affords a new perspective on this architectural wonder. Learn more.

2. Wine & Art at Antinori, Badia a Passignano

Every Wednesday throughout summer, guests at the five-star Casali di Casole can join an exclusive tour that visits the beautiful Abbey di Passignano and concludes with a private tasting at the acclaimed Tuscan winery of Antinori.

Sangiovese grapes in the Montalcino region of Tuscany Italy

Food pairings help further illustrate the seductive qualities of Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and the king of Tuscan wines, Brunello di Montalcino. Learn more.

3. Hold Your Breath at the Heart-Pounding Il Palio in Siena

How can an event last 75 seconds and yet remain utterly timeless at the same time? Siena’s famous Il Palio is, at it’s heart, a horse race through the town’s majestic medieval piazza. But the pageantry that precedes it, and the revelry that follows, is deeply rooted in the customs and traditions of an ancient city and its rival neighborhoods, called contrade.

Piazza del Campo and Torre del Mangia in the Old Town of Siena Tuscany Italy UNESCO World Culture Heritage Site

Il Palio is held on July 2 and August 16 every year. And if you think it has been resurrected from the past to please tourists, think again: this intense battle of the contrade has been held almost continuously since 1644.

The best way to enjoy Il Palio is with Casali di Casole’s special package. Learn more.

4. Revisit Medieval Tuscany in Volterra

Occupying a mountaintop in central Tuscany, the ancient walled city of Volterra captivates travelers with impeccably preserved cultural sites spanning the Etruscan, Roman and Medieval eras.

Tuscany Volterra town skyline church and panorama view on sunset. Maremma Italy Europe

Every summer, the spectacular 1398 Medieval Festival brings one of these time periods to life in the town’s Parco di Casali. Held on the third and fourth Sundays of August, the event features period costumes and reenactments in a medieval market setting. It is one of the most authentic time-traveling experiences in Europe.

5. Tour the Countryside in a Ferrari

Finally, could there possibly be a better way to experience the undulating Tuscan countryside than with a test drive of a Ferrari? We didn’t think so.

Red Ferrari

Guests at the Casali di Casole this summer can book the Ferrari Red Passion package and enjoy four nights of luxury accommodations, daily breakfast for two, VIP amenities, and of course, a full-day Ferrari experience with a member of the Ferrari team. Guests can take a red Ferrari California 30 for a spin anywhere within 150 km of the resort.

Learn more about this, and other exciting summer 2017 packages at Casali di Casole.

Ferrari Tuscan Driving Experience

An exciting and incredible new benefit for Owners and guests of the hotel is the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a luxury Ferrari Sports Car, including the Ferrari 458 Spider and 458 Italia. Organized by the Siena-based DRIVING THE DREAM, drivers have the option to either take to the winding and picturesque roads of Tuscany on their own, or drive with an official Ferrari Instructor. It is possible to rent the car for a 1 hour test-drive, half day or whole day. Owners who rent the car for the majority of the day have the opportunity to visit Siena, the Chianti Region or shop at the Prada Outlets. By all accounts, this is an experience of a lifetime.

Please visit our Facebook album to view photos from the recent Ferrari Drive experience visiting Casali di Casole.

See More >>>

To learn more about ownership opportunities at Casali di Casole, please contact us at 866.963.5005 (toll free in the US) or via email at [email protected]. Or please reach us at +39.0577.967511 (in Europe) or via email at [email protected]. For availability and reservations at Hotel Casali di Casole, please contact us at 888.927.2580 (toll free in the US) or +39.0577.961501 (in Europe)

Exclusive Offerings to Owners at Casali di Casole

Casali di Casole offers Owners an exceptional lifestyle combining both practical and luxurious privileges. As always, our staff continually strives to offer new and updated programs and experiences. We are pleased to offer the following this coming season with more to be announced in the coming months:

  • Tuesday Weekly Owners’ Cocktail Hour: Hosted each week in a different casale, this is a wonderful opportunity to mix and mingle with your fellow Owners and enjoy light Tuscan-style appetizers prepared by our Governante Orietta and her team served with Casali di Casole’s signature vintage Sangiovese/Cabernet blend or a crisp white wine from nearby Avignonesi. In the summer season we also have one Owners’ Reception each month at the Hotel.
  • Fitness Classes and Personal Training: Expanded fitness class offerings now include Circuit Training, Zen Fit, Zen Imagery Exercises, Oxygen Pilates, together with classic Pilates and yoga classes. A dedicated personal trainer is also now available for circuit training or Pilates and yoga upon request.
  • Daily Pasta and Pizza Making Classes: Hosted six days of the week, these classes are held at the hotel for adults. Children’s pizza-making classes and ice-cream tastings are also available.
  • Thursday Wine Tastings: Led by Alessandro Marinelli, our Food & Beverage Director, these wine tastings offer the opportunity for Owners to learn more about vintages available locally as well as from afar.
  • ‘Aperitivo Italiano’: Experience the Italian lifestyle and taste traditional Italian cocktails served with delicious finger food created by Chef Daniele each Friday.
  • Cooking Lessons in your Casale: Chef Daniele’s team is now available for cooking lessons in your home.
  • Authentic farm tours, expanded children’s classes and activities, new exclusive winery partnerships and dedicated wine programs are all available to Owners. For further details please contact the concierge team.

Learn More >>

To learn more about ownership opportunities at Casali di Casole, please contact us at 866.963.5005 (toll free in the US) or via email at [email protected]. Or please reach us at +39.0577.967511 (in Europe) or via email at [email protected]. For availability and reservations at Hotel Casali di Casole, please contact us at 888.927.2580 (toll free in the US) or +39.0577.961501 (in Europe)

The Leisurely Lifestyle

For Timbers Resorts Owners, it's not so much about vacation; we prefer to think about our properties and the experiences surrounding them as a lifestyle.

Whether it's the services and amenities we offer — from our spas and restaurants to our ski-in and ski-out lodges, to our concierges always on hand — you might consider lifestyle to be a frame of mind, here. It's a way of thinking about your activities and passions, the ones you pursue at home and away, as an extension of the very things you'd do all the time if you could.

Growing your relationship with those things is key to our approach at Timbers Resorts. Let's look at a short list of some of the ways to do just that, bringing the leisurely lifestyle into your days and weeks, in our spaces and also those of our closely held partnerships.

Partnerships in Leisure: Ways to Explore Your Lifestyle

At Timbers Resorts, we know that variety and circumstance are important to the choices and accommodations that our Owners have come to love.

When you're an Owner with us, you'll have access to a lifestyle accented by international flair, all geared toward providing you a truly leisurely state of mind.

  • PlumpJack Group: Start with how you eat and drink. Our partnership with PlumpJack ensures that your experience at their wineries, wine shops, and inns are of five-star caliber, and flush with benefits that non-Owners won't receive.
  • Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: Leisure is about restoration — bringing the senses and mind into line with the body and wellness. At Rancho Valencia, our Owners receive preferred rates on treatments and retail at the spa. Hotel reservations and dining are at special rates as well.
  • The Sebastian - Vail: Bringing your friends and colleagues together in the right place at the right time is part of the leisurely lifestyle. In addition to preferred rates on accommodations, dining, retail, and spa experiences at The Sebastian - Vail, our Owners receive special access to banquet and meeting-space pricing.
  • Hotel Casali di Casole and Hotel Savoy: There is something about Italy. At Timbers Resorts we treasure a special relationship with the region. When it comes to leisure, our Owners will explore special rates on suites, food, wine, and services at Tuscany's Hotel Casali di Casole. In Florence, our Owners receive VIP welcomes at Hotel Savoy, free upgrades when available, and a daily continental breakfast.
  • Trump International Ireland: There is no place quite like the southwest coast of Ireland. To experience its magnificent cliffs, its world-class greens, and its inimitable culture and community, plug in to preferred rates at Trump International, Timbers Resorts' partner on the Emerald Isle.
  • Mandarin Oriental: And then, continue your pursuit of leisure around the world with the spas, dining, service, and style of Mandarin Oriental's unique, exquisite, and wide-ranging properties.

Luxury: it's our Owners' passion. With the kinds of friends on our list, Timbers Resorts continues to make luxury a central part of every visit and trip.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.510.6796 (direct) or via email at [email protected].

Getting from A to B

Your time with us at Timbers Resorts starts, of course, with getting here. And we work with you every step of the way to make certain that the journey is a pleasant part of our Owners' experience. Then we take it further.

Partnering with leaders in the travel industry, Timbers Resorts is committed to bringing luxury and convenience to each of our traveling Owners.

"As our Owners travel often, we want to elevate their travel experience with the best-of-the-best partners providing special perks and privileges," said Stephanie Taylor, manager of Partnerships and Reciprocity at Timbers Resorts."We've curated a handful of well-known and like-minded brands to align with."

Whether it's a car service, luggage shipping, or even a private jet — have a look at the options your Timbers Resorts team has created for you.

  • Priority Pass: Start with your point of departure. Our Members enjoy a preferred rate with Priority Pass and then receive special access to more that 600 airport VIP lounges in more than 100 countries.
  • Luggage Forward: Forget about check-in lines and fees. Implement this doorstep-to-destination luggage service at our Owner rates.
  • Sentient Jet: Elevate your travel experience with a special package on Sentient's private jet service. Owners receive free flight hours and credits that apply to further perks at Timbers Resorts' properties.
  • Hertz: Members are automatically lifted to Gold status with Hertz, and they're guaranteed meet-and-greet services and complimentary vehicle pick-up and delivery, too.
  • BMW North America: From June through November, our Members climb into the driver's seat with BMW's Ultimate Driving Experience Tour. From its various locations around the U.S., or with special access to its Performance Driving School in South Carolina, the wheel of one of the finest machines in the world is now in your hands.

"We understand that our Owners are very savvy, especially when it comes to partner benefits and the added value to their ownership," Taylor said. "Therefore, we seek partners that are not only like-minded, but provide a little something extra."

The bottom line? When it comes to getting from point-A to point-B, Timbers Resorts is always attending to the details that make sure you reach — and then fully enjoy — your favorite destination.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.510.6796 (direct) or via email at [email protected].

Wine & Refine

Wine isn't just a beverage on the dinner table at Timbers Resorts; for many of our Owners and guests, wine is a way of looking at life.

Indeed, we believe that every glass is a great pleasure to behold, to discuss, to share … and, yes, to enjoy slowly over a sunset or a crackling fire.

As much as they join us for any number of favorite reasons, our Owners and guests come to us for the wine experience that Timbers Resorts has come to represent. What follow are some recent highlights of how we make that a touchstone of our properties, all year round.

  • Start with the heart of Wine Country. PlumpJack and its family of wineries grow and blend grapes in some the finest climates, worldwide. Timbers Collection Members reap the fruit of our deep commitment to the company's winemaking vision, enjoying a PlumpJack Passport that affords them access to three of its premier locations. Work your way through PlumpJack Estate, CADE, and Odette, one glass at a time.
  • As you learn the wines you love, sometimes you find bottles that are hard to come by. At Timbers Resorts, our close connection to Italian Wine Merchants, one of the most respected procurers of exceptional vintages on the planet, helps to solve that quandary. From four different wine-club membership subscription programs to Italian Wine Merchants' extraordinary cellar-management services, every oenophile is working with the best, to taste the best, every time.
  • Timbers Resorts even bottles a signature blend. At Casali di Casole, 100 acres of idyllic land in Tuscany, the grapes hang heavy before they're picked and made into exclusive vintages. Timbers Collection Members get special access to these bottles — and our Members are also invited to come to the property and watch how the wine is made.

There is more on the horizon as well. We think that wine is about learning, and Timbers Resorts will soon create new opportunities to do just that across our portfolio of luxury fractional resorts.

Is it time to uncork your next wine experience? Why not join us over some cab or a pinot noir. Wine is a way of experiencing the pleasures of life, here, and Timbers Resorts is your gateway to the best that you can pour.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.963.4626 (direct) or via email at [email protected]

Game On This Thanksgiving: Top Crowd-Pleasers

Thanksgiving's a festive time that brings the whole family together for a feast and lots of fun. Keep everyone busy and engaged with group games such as these classic crowd-pleasers to play at Timbers Resorts this Turkey Day.

Chess

The art of playing chess requires developing a strategy from the get go; the goal being to control the board from the very first move. Taking on seasoned opponents offers a chance to challenge yourself. Teaching beginners provides the opportunity to introduce a game they can play for years. Other board game favorites that appeal to groups and a variety of ages include Monopoly, Sorry, Life, Battleship, Taboo and Murder Mystery Mansion.

Charades

The object of this game is for one person to look at a word on a card and get their team to guess it without saying a word, and instead gesturing in imaginative ways. Keep the kids occupied longer by having them create the game cards (by writing words on a grid on paper and cutting out the cards with scissors). It also ensures the game is played at an age-appropriate level, since kids are the ones providing the words.

Pictionary

Make your own version of Pictionary with an easel loaded with plenty of paper and a few packs of markers. Refresher: This game is the same as charades, but with drawing instead of gesturing.

Flag Football

It’s just good-ole, classic Americana Thanksgiving. Ask the concierge at your Timbers Resort to suggest a nearby park or outdoor area most suitable for family football.

Chopstick Pass

Bring as many sets of chopsticks with you on your trips as are family members, then play the chopstick pass game. Have everyone sit around close to one another, break into two teams (if there are at least eight people) and select an item that is tricky that both teams have to pass with chopsticks, down the line and back up the line to the starting point.

Cards

When in doubt, play cards. Stick with faithful standbys like Uno, Crazy Eights, Go Fish and War.

Freeze Dance

Trying to tucker out the troops? You can never go wrong with freeze dance. Put on some thumping music and have one take turns controlling the music. When it stops, the dancing stops. Each time you’ll end up having people fall over, or stop too late, until there’s one person left. Just be sure to have the video camera handy to capture some priceless footage.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.963.4626 (direct) or via email at [email protected].

Casali di Casole: The Architecture & Interior Design Process

At Timbers Resorts, when it comes to architecture and interior design, we pride ourselves on establishing an original look and feel at each of our properties. Drawing upon their curatorial brawn, as they orchestrate all of the elements in each project, Director of Architecture Gary Ross, Director of Design & Interiors Sandy Burden, and their expert staff employ an immense amount of creativity, thought and research.

At Casali di Casole in Tuscany, original and authentic structures dating back to the 10th century, which include the extraordinary castle and luxurious farmhouses, are lovingly restored to honor architecture of the past. As part of that effort, entire restoration teams ensure every detail is not only historically accurate, but also sweeping in its inspiration as ruins are literally transformed into stunning works of art.

In his role overseeing all stages of the architectural process, Ross works directly with the Belle Arti department of Italy’s Heritage and Cultural Activity Ministry. All plans and permits must be approved by this government office prior to forging ahead and breaking ground, a thorough and often cumbersome process.

Burden is at the helm of the interior design department and has furnished Timbers' properties since the very first namesake resort in the Collection, The Timbers Club, as well as One Steamboat Place, Esperanza Resort, The Sebastian - Vail and many others. Responsible for all interiors at Casali di Casole's hotel and farmhouses, she and her team apply their trained eyes to bazaars around the globe—from the markets in Paris to fabric vendors in Milan to antique fairs in Parma —seeking just the right pieces for each space. Local artisans are leveraged for their knowledge and prowess, proving to be a powerful collaboration. Part of this process is shown in the photo gallery below.

The farmhouses are available through the Private Residence Club, as well as for whole ownership. Owners who purchase farmhouses outright at Casali di Casole work directly with Ross and Burden as they define just what they'd like in their Tuscan home while staying in tune with its character. With resource rooms at the estate in Italy and at Timbers' headquarters in Colorado, Owners can meet with the architecture and interior design staff abroad or stateside. Ross, Burden and their entire team advise on architectural enhancements, as well as finishes, furnishings and decor, weighing in on all aspects of design from spatial relations to wall color to lighting. They listen to Owners' ideas and inquiries, scrawl plans and set forth on the exciting process of bringing these visions to fruition; balancing elements of the present with the past to become perfect.

 To learn more about ownership opportunities at Casali di Casole, please contact us at 866.963.5005 (toll free in the US) or via email at [email protected]. For availability and reservations at Hotel Casali di Casole, please contact us at 888.927.2580 (toll free in the US) or +39.0577.961501 (in Europe) or via email at [email protected].

Residence Club Ownership: Why It May Be Right For You

The idea of a luxury vacation home is attractive to many buyers, but concerns about usage, maintenance, and costs can give some prospects pause. The fractional ownership model available at Timbers Resorts has proven to be an attractive alternative for those who intend to visit a property less frequently or don't wish to hassle with ongoing upkeep on a home.

Unlike the traditional 'timeshare,' fractional ownership gives a larger ownership percentage and usage - often something from three to six weeks per year. As with a regular property purchase, the fractional ownership can be resold if plans or goals change - it does not expire.

Convenience is another key point converting some to fractional ownership. Timbers Resorts offer concierge service, airport transfers, a shopping service, and spa services to complement the residence. Since residences are fully furnished and updated, the inconveniences of second home ownership are reduced to the greatest degree possible.

For those who don't wish to limit their stays to one location, Timbers ownership privileges allow Owners to trade time to visit other properties in other locations through the Timbers Reciprocity Program. Many find this to be a valuable factor, giving the second home ownership added flexibility from year to year.

Before purchasing a fractional ownership, there are a few questions to ask. Among them are how the annual maintenance fees are set, how usage will be determined, and what percentage of the resort is sold. Working with a company with a history is the fractional business is encouraged, as there are intricacies to getting the balance right to ensure all fractional owners are satisfied.

For those looking to spend all summer in one location, a fractional ownership may not be ideal. But for Owners who value flexibility, convenience, and a more reasonable cost of entry, fractional ownership can be the key to the luxury vacation home they've been dreaming of at a palatable entry cost. With research, conversations with sales executives and visit(s) to the resort(s), you can make a decision for what works best for you and your lifestyle.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.963.4626 (direct) or via email at [email protected].