Casali di Casole Blog

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].

Top 6 Activities to Enjoy in Tuscany

Journeying to a luxe Tuscany villa is adventure enough for many—but, if you’re like us, you seek to punctuate each vacation with a few never-before, unlikely escapades (the kind that make a vacation into a once-in-a-lifetime-like memory). While there are scads of activities to enjoy while lounging about your hotel suite or Italian villa at Casali di Casole - A Timbers Resort, here are six of our suggested picks.

1. Ease into Vacation Mode

There's no better way to unleash your spirit and seep into relaxation mode than kicking off your stay with an in-villa massage tendered by a certified massage therapist. Choose from classic, deep-tissue and the destination-specific Tuscan aromatherapy massage. Reserve your treatment in advance to ensure you can unspool your travel-fatigued muscles on arrival. Ahh, Bellisimo!

2. Create Your Masterpiece

Slosh all that countryside-inspired awe you’re feeling around with a rainbow of paints on blank canvases. During a two-hour class, either in-residence or amidst your outdoor garden, learn core watercolor techniques from an instructor who brings along art supplies. (Which also includes water color painting with wine - as in paintbrushes dipped in a wine and water mixture.)

3. Enjoy a Bird's Eye View

For those who enjoy packing at least one fear-inducing, awe-inspiring adventure into every trip, the concierges can suggest an array of options to consider. One such recommendation would be an aerial tour of Tuscany, taking flight at dawn aboard a hot air balloon overlooking the patchwork of vineyards and hilly countryside. Relish the spectacular views of fertile Tuscan terrain while soaring amid the clouds. (File under "Things That Make You Say Wow.")

4. Give Farm-Fresh New Meaning

Located just 20 minutes from the property, the lush, organic farm named Podere Paugnano produces Pecorino cheese, olive oil and fresh veggies. The shepherd-owners will graciously welcome you to their home and gardens - just bring your appetite and willingness to spontaneously taste-test. Better yet, request the light terrace lunch prepared by your gracious hostess, Giovanna. (As the hosts don't speak English, the concierges can arrange an Italian- and English-speaking tour guide to serve as translator by your side.)

5. Carve Your Niche

Using a local artisan's tools and know-how, create your own woodworking piece of art in nearby Colle Val d'Elsa at a woodcarving workshop. Handmade never felt so meaningful.

6. Sail Away

See the beauty of Florence on a boat trip down the Arno River. You'll climb aboard at Ponte delle Grazie and travel downriver to Ponte della Carraia. The open, small vessel is ideal for evening summer tours setting sail around 5 p.m. Buon Viaggio!

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].

September in Tuscany

September in Tuscany may be the most beautiful - and festive - month of the year with late summer weather lingering, grape and harvest seasons coinciding, and many wine festivals held throughout the region. Casali di Casole's knowledgeable concierges culled the calendars of events nearby and share their suggestions below for several not-to-be-missed activities.

11 - 14 September 2014: The Festa delle Cantine in Manciano celebrates the two great loves of every Mancianese - food and wine. For locals it’s an opportunity to enjoy the incredible wines and products they are renowned for not only within the territory, but in all of Italy. During the day, enjoy live shows, musical performances, market stalls and various homemade delicacies. Then in the evening, the town’s cellars are opened and the real party starts including tastings of all kinds of wines, along with fire shows and a torchlight horseback procession through the streets of the historic centre.

11 - 14, September, 2014: Expo del Chianti - Greve in Chianti, sponsored by the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico. Enjoy a program of artistic and cultural events related to the rural culture of Tuscany. Meet the growers and tour their vineyards and wine cellars.

18 - 21, September, 2014: Vino al Vino in the main square of Panzano (Piazza Bucciarelli). Wine from many of the Panzano wineries is available to be sampled. Buy a tasting glass for 12 euros, which serves as your "ticket" to taste the wines on display at the booths of about 19 wineries. Enjoy live Jazz in the streets and a festive atmosphere. Food stands are also usually available.

26 - 28, September, 2014: Festa dell’Uva e del Vino (the Grape and Wine Festival) is the most important event in Bardolino. It is entirely dedicated to the excellence of its local wine, which is rooted in the rural culture of the lake resort, its grape harvest for children, road shows and music at every corner. Among the numerous events not-to-be-missed is the one called Convivio in onore di Bacco, organized by restaurants in Chiusi with special menus to be paired with the local wines. At the same time, you could explore the region with a special trek such as "Vinovagando," which includes wine tasting in historic cellars while visiting archeological sites.

28 - 29, September, 2014: Festa dell’Uva in Scansano. This town, known for its Vino Morellino, celebrates wine tasting in many old wineries, as well as numerous events for adults and children in the streets.

29 - 30, September, 2014: Festa dell’Uva dell’Impruneta is a special animating event held since 1926 in this village just minutes away from Florence.

3 - 5, October, 2014: Il Pigio Festival (from “pigiare,” meaning "to press,") also takes place at this time in the town of Poggibonsi, where young and old enjoy cheerful and lively celebrations in the village.

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) or via email at [email protected].

Ferragosto: Italy’s Ultimate Summer Holiday

When staying at Casali di Casole's boutique hotel or private villas in Tuscany in August, you quickly gather that, as it is with many countries in the Mediterranean region, this is a season of leisure and folly in Italy. The age-old Italian festival known as Ferragosto occurs right at the month's pinnacle, on August 15.

This national holiday, when Italian villas are festively decorated, dates back to Roman times and was once fêted by the Roman Empire to honor the celebratory season of ripening and fertility, as well as the gods and goddesses (especially Diana, who, according to Roman mythology was the divine goddess of the hunt, moon and birthing).

Nowadays, the Catholic Church marks this as a day to celebrate the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary, the storied rise of the young woman's soul from imperfect earth to the pure and idyllic heavens. Italians spend the feast day (when many cafes, restaurants and shops are chiuso per ferie, or, closed for vacation) with family and friends, often at the beach by day, and at parties complete with viewings of elaborate fireworks displays, by night.

Leading up to the holiday, and following after, regional festivals punctuate the calendar. Among the top Ferragosto daylong festivals taking place in Tuscany, is one in nearby Montepulciano, where there is a grand pageant followed by games and activities for the whole family. On the 16th, the Tuscan hill town of Siena hosts a Palio horse race in the village square. Be sure to ask your concierge about recommended goings-on commemorating the holiday. Divertiti! (Have fun!)

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 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) or via email at [email protected].

A Guide to Trekking in Tuscany

The verdant, rolling hills and sprawling villas in Tuscany surrounding Casali di Casole - A Timbers Resort, make the region every trekker's dream come true. Exploring on foot allows you to savor every morsel of the area's richness, indulging all your senses. You'll breathe in fragrant air and bask in warm sunlight, while absorbing sweeping Italian villas and breathtaking sunsets. Whether it's a lackadaisical amble to castles and hamlets, a traipse across vineyards and olive groves, or an ambitious, hilly route you're after, hikers of all skill levels are welcome in Tuscany.

Castle Charm

For those longing to wind through lush valleys in search of majestic treasures, the Gaile community has developed the not-to-be-missed Chianti Castles Route, comprising six color-coded trekking itineraries. Each is dotted with the area's signature sights--from fortified farm houses and abbeys to spectacular castles. The Red path (about 5K, or 3 miles) climbs to breathtaking Tornano Castle before stealing along cypress-lined avenues en route to Monte San Marcellino village. Preview the trails at Greve-in-Chianti.

Renaissance Romance

From Tuscany's capital, Florence, best known for its stunning art (think Michelangelo's David), trekkers can revel along the Anello del Rinascimento trail. Translating to Ring of the Renaissance, it takes you deep into the Florentine hills along the city perimeter. At a whopping 170 km (or 105 miles), for most, doing a portion of the trek, lined with monasteries, churches and picturesque Italian villages, suffices. For more information, contact the Florence Tourism Board.

Vineyard Visions

If you're hankering to see pristine rows of lush vineyards and fertile olive groves in the rustic countryside, tackle the easy trek from Pienza to Montepulciano. Nestled within the Siena provence, Pienza--a World Heritage Site--is the birthplace of Pope Pius II and known for its pecorino, or sheep's milk, cheese (which you'll want to sample). The hike's about 9 miles, with Monticchiello as the resting-lunch spot. Reaching Montepulciano, perched high on a hill, you'll be primed to sip its luscious, indigenous red wine at local cellars.

Doorstep Diversions

If you can't swing a daylong hike, you'll find several trekking options right outside your farmhouse or hotel suite. Just grab a map from the concierge highlighting miles of country roads and singletrack trails within the expansive 4,200-acre resort property. Contact the concierge by emailing [email protected].

Hiking Essentials

  • Maps: Trails are not often well-marked, making maps indispensable. Also consider checking out the book Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria.
  • Ankle-high hiking boots: The terrain is uneven, steep and narrow, in spots, so protect your feet with durable, sturdy footwear.
  • Two pairs moisture-wicking hiking socks
  • Water bottle
  • Comfortable, loose-fitting, layered clothing
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat

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].

Spin City – Cycling around Casole d’Elsa, Tuscany

*Photos by Timbers Resorts Owner Jessica Budinger from a fall 2013 cycling trip to Casali di Casole, touring the countryside's most classic routes.

Cycling is as synonymous with Italian culture as food and wine – minus the calories. In fact, there’s no better way to offset the indulgences of eating and drinking in Tuscany and still get a taste of the area’s rich history than from the seat of a bicycle. Spend a day pedaling through the timeless countryside, where castles and walled medieval villages can be found surrounded by pristine forests, cypress trees, olive groves, river valleys and world renowned vineyards.

With nearby hill towns spaced at almost perfect ten- and twenty-kilometer intervals from Casali di Casole, there are many incredible day rides to choose from. Not only does biking provide a slower pace in which to explore, you’ll also be following the footsteps (or tracks) of many famous Italian cyclists who pedaled before you.

Italy is the home of the Giro d’Italia, a stage race much like the Tour de France that dates back to 1909 when the first race covered over 2,400 kilometers. As part of the Triple Crown of cycling (that also includes the Tour de France and Vuelta d’Espana) it’s still one of the largest and most prestigious bike races in the world. Though the course changes every year, stages have careened through the Tuscan hillsides for over a century, where the passion for cycling is as old as the hills. That might be why some of the most celebrated bike manufacturers in the world hail from Italy, including master frame builders like Colnago, DeRossa, Basso, and the one and only Campagnolo, makers of top-of-the-line bicycle components.

Tuscany offers some of the best cycling in Italy with its undulating terrain and moderate climate. Explore the architectural splendor of Volterra with its Roman theatre, piazzas, fortress and cathedral.

Ride through San Gimignano where fourteen medieval towers punctuate a distinctive skyline that can be seen from several miles outside the town. San Gimignano is also famous for its frescoes, churches and palazzos, not to mention exceptional white wines.

Venture to Monteriggioni, one of the classic hill towns of Italy where only 84 inhabitants live behind 13th century retaining walls that remain almost perfectly intact. Inside the fortress there is no traffic, making Monteriggioni an ideal destination for cyclists. If you are interested in touring the countryside by bike, the villa concierges at Casali di Casole can readily assist with arranging bike equipment rentals, suggesting routes, providing maps and/or booking guides.

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 +39.0577.961508 (in Europe) or via email at [email protected].

Il Palio di Siena

Every year on July 2 and August 16, the beautiful medieval city of Siena, just 20 minutes by car from Casali di Casole, comes alive for one of the world’s most breathtaking folk festivals, Il Palio (the horse race). Known around the globe as a unique equestrian event, to the Sienese, Il Palio has a much deeper significance.

Preparations go on all year long in this special Tuscan city, whose seventeen neighborhoods invest every spare Euro and every waking moment in their efforts to win. The evening before the race it is estimated that 25,000 people feast in groups outdoors, as each contrada (neighborhood) stages a sumptuous banquet to rehearse their anticipated victory celebration. On the morning of the race, each horse is led into the contrada church to be blessed.

After this most solemn event, the city literally erupts, as excited citizens flock to the beautiful shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. Approximately 50,000 people file into the middle of the square, while a few thousand fortunate souls take their reserved seats on bleachers and terraces in front of the 15th-century palazzi (palaces) that line the perimeter. Residents of these grand apartments will rent their homes for the Palio races every year, commanding grand sums for a bird’s eye view of the action.

iStock_000022118690SmallThe festivities begin with a parade that stretches well into the day. Later, as the horses and jockeys arrive, each pair is passionately hailed by the denizens of its contrada. Within moments of  the race, the jockeys prepare to line up their mounts behind the rope, which marks the tenuous starting gate. They strategically take their time as they plot to crush their patrons’ enemies. When at last the judge lowers his arm, they tear off around the track at breakneck speed. Occasionally, in the pandemonium, a jockey will be unhorsed and run to avoid being trampled. According to tradition and the long-standing rules, the first horse to cross the finish line will win, with or without a rider.

For those staying at Casali di Casole and interested in Il Palio di Siena, the villa concierges are available to arrange transfers, tickets and an array of access levels to enjoy either race this summer. Please note advance notice is required to confirm ticket availability.

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 +39.0577.961508 (in Europe) or via email at [email protected].

Springtime in Full Bloom

When you step into Wine Country, you step into the heart of the season. Whatever season it may be, few other places register the time of year so clearly.

Throughout the months, Owners and guests at the Wine Country properties among Timbers Resorts' family of luxury fractional homes get to see it all. The great and heavy purples of the grapes as they fill the vines, the bustle and energy of the harvesting and the autumnal crush.

And the promise of each year's bounty starts with spring.

Whether you're in the hills of Sonoma, or by the ocean in Tuscany, it's the beginning of the bloom in both of these beautiful settings.

Sonoma: Season's Start at Mayacama

Venturing out from Mayacama, vineyard visits in the spring will reward you with the early activity of the final pruning. As the air warms, the first flush of wildflowers and the shimmering lemon-yellow of wild mustard starts to light the landscape.

And then, against all this fresh color, at the apex of the season, there is the bud break.

The vines suddenly burst with new leaves. These emerald fans spread from their centers, expanding to cranberry-red edges. Soon, clusters of juice-bearing fruit will swell beneath them — and another vintage has begun.

Tuscany: Towns of Spring

A silken mist still clings to the ridges as you travel the rises of Tuscany's wine country. Step from your front door at Casali di Casole: the riches of the vineyards, and the surrounding towns, are opening with the season.

In some cases, literally.

A short trip to the coast, and you'll take in the red poppies blanketing a verdant hillside, but also the awakening of the villages and communities that help make this a region renown not only for its wines, but also for its chance discoveries and sudden plunges into Old World charm.

Be certain to seek out a lunchtime bowl of cacciucco — a lively red fish soup that is one specialty of Tuscany. And, of course, get a glass of bold bolgheri or a crisp chardonnay to wash it down.

Springtime is also a perfect season to think about starting a new chapter with Timbers Resorts.

Our homes in the heart of Sonoma and Tuscany are not only a destination of choice for vinum aficionados, they are also a point of departure into new adventures with wine and the people who make it. So, join us for seasons to come, and make generations of new memories in Wine Country with Timbers Resorts.

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].

1,000 Years in the Making: Etruscan Artifacts

Owners and guests at Casali di Casole, Timbers Resorts' luxury fractional property in Tuscany, are on the doorstep of a land rich in history. Both inside the castle walls and throughout its cypress-lined lanes, one is treading on old land and legendary paths. Let's turn to the old Italy — the Etruscans and then the Romans — and delve the deep waters of time that flow through this important and treasured place.

From the Past to the Present: The Museum of Casole

To find the heart of the past in Casole d'Elsa, where Casali di Casole, the archaeological holdings of the community's museum are the place to start. The museum's collection of Etruscan artifacts are in part the result of careful consideration by various owners of Casali di Casole — in a number of the castle's incarnations — donated by them and now part of a significant lens onto the artistic and cultural heritage of this area. It was 1996 when Agreste Mensano, the property's former name, began to donate to the museum the artifacts in its possession. In 2009, with the granting of the last pieces, all objects related to the Etruscan period found space within its walls. See below for a gallery of these images that are also on display in Casole d'Elsa.

Roots of History: The Castle and Surrounding Land

The visionaries who first understood that a centuries-worn building — the future Casali di Casole — could be a home, and then a treasure for others, date back to the 1800s. A family of nobles known as Bargagli, and then the Viscontis who in the 1960s brought the place into its more modern form, were careful collectors and preservers of the past. As the walls and features of the castle were restored, the pieces of history that they discovered became a part of the mission — to not only give the castle a long life, but to recognize and care for the evidence and objects of its ancestors.

"The work was long, not only for the restoration, but also for the study because experts and scholars had to go back to the different areas of excavation," says Silvia Anichini, assistant project director at Casali di Casole. Each reclaimed artifact from the grounds needed to be dated and assigned a place of origin. And as this happened, the different caretakers laid the foundations for an agreement, which brought a select few pieces back into the hotel Fireplace Room and inside the spa, where you can visit them now. Outside the castle, the journey into the past continued.

"A number of tombs have been found — more or less rich," says Anichini, "some [containing] only small objects while others contained numerous vases and urns. The whole area was full of settlements dating from the 8th Century B.C., and one of the most important places of excavation and findings is next to the bar of La Speranza" (down the road from the estate).

So, the next time you're on property, you'll know that you're sharing a path traveled for centuries and are but one of a deep lineage of peoples that have found this very place to be one of the greatest treasures that Tuscany has to offer.

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 +39.0577.961508 (in Europe) or via email at [email protected].

Condé Nast Traveler Cover Model: Castello di Casole

Condé Nast Traveler's highly anticipated Gold List has been released with Castello di Casole gracing the magazine's January 2014 cover and featured as the opening property! Each year the luxury travel publication holds a Readers' Survey – this year an unprecedented 80,000 participants cast their votes for their favorite hotels, resorts and cruise lines. Described as "The Historic Gem," Castello di Casole is highlighted for its romantic countryside settings, contemporary amenities, historic roots and exceptional service.  Read more via our press page.

To learn more about ownership opportunities at Castello di Casole, please contact us at 888.892.1278 (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 Castello 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].