Casali di Casole Blog

Art-Centric Experiences at Timbers Resorts

It's not just about getting to your Timbers Resorts destination — whether that's Vail, or possibly Cabo, or even Tuscany. It's about getting there and finding that sense of heightened living, that moment of restoration. Time for the body and time for the mind.

Part of that time, when it comes to the mind (and the pleasures of the senses), is the art that surrounds you while you're there. Timbers Resorts is proud to be a place where artists are a part of the environment. The lifestyle that Owners and guests lead here, it's enriched by the talented visionaries whose painting and sculpture and designs are showcased throughout our luxury fractional homes.

We like to think we're curating a kind of relationship between the people who live here and the people who create what makes here special. And so, let's take a look at how that works. Join us for a virtual tour of art-centric highlights, touching on three Timbers Resorts locations. We think you'll agree, there's a lot to see and explore.

The Sebastian Vail: Abstract, Surrealism, Blown Glass

Sebastian---sculpture-145x239World-class artists in the mountains of Colorado: The Sebastian - Vail brings together painting, sculpture, and design to envelope its interiors and elevate its outside spaces. The artists that do that are numerous and diverse.

— Manuel Felguérez: You'll find four paintings and eight sculptures at The Sebastian by this critically acclaimed muralist. Felguérez's texturally complex and large-scale canvases can be found in the library, along with his intricate three-dimensional metalwork.

— Leonora Carrington: A surrealist contemporary of Max Ernst, Picasso and Dali, look for Carrington's striking sculptures and sculptural masks in the lobby, near the spa, and in the atrium, as well as outside and inside the entrance to her namesake restaurant, Leonora, that debuted in December 2012 to critical acclaim!.

— Victor Chaca: The colorful abstract paintings of this Mexican-born artist suggest the whirl of life itself. See them in Block 16.

— Gunther Gerzso: A Guggenheim fellow ('73) and award-winning inclusion at many a museum, Gerzso's remarkable geometric sculpture draws the eye in The Sebastian's main level.

And don't miss out on the blown-glass features of Scott Chambers, among the many artistic details attended to by The Sebastian's interior design team at J. Banks. Look for them when you stop into Frost Bar.

CDC-exterior-165x239Casali di Casole: Architecture and Design

When you think of the Old World — of a place rich in history and antiquity such as Tuscany, where Owners at Casali di Casole reside — you think about the street-scapes, the buildings, the interior courtyard, all the wonderful details that come with Italian architecture.

The architects and interior designers at Casali di Casole recognized the unique space with which they could work, and their attention to authenticity comes through. Note the exposed wood beams, the terra cotta tiles, the hand-set stone walls, the baths, and the acknowledgment of old and new in the selection of Italian furniture throughout Casali's homes.

Esperanza: Sculpture 

Esperanza-165x239No fewer than three dozen works by noted and important Mexican and Latin American artists make up the sculpture garden at this Auberge resort in Cabo San Lucas.

From tours to art classes among the masterworks, you're also in the company of highly lauded painters. The spaces throughout Esperanza are lush with the canvasses of Heriberto Juarez, Javier Marin, Juan Carlos Breceda, Lupina Flores, Elisa Pasquel and Gabriella Villareal among others.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts and the art-centric lifestyle, please contact us via email at [email protected] or by phone, 888.366.6641.

A Model Game Reserve in Tuscany

When considering destinations to visit on your next trip to Tuscany, food and wine may be first in your mind, but nature's bounty extends far beyond gastronomy in this part of the world. While there are over 50 game reserves in Siena alone, the Casali di Casole villas in Tuscany have won the coveted "Model Game Reserve" designation thanks to game warden Paolo Bagnoli and his staff of gamekeepers.

Paolo---game-wardenAnimals aren't new to the land surrounding Casali di Casole - in the 1800s, the wealthy Bargagli family farmed livestock on the premises. Two centuries later, the property's 1730-acre game reserve has been deemed one of the Top 5 reserves in Siena, and the caretakers oversee a large population of animals including pheasant, deer, rabbits, and boar. The "Top 5" designation is due to the number of healthy species currently living on the property, and makes stays at both the hotel and farmhouses feel even more unique and unspoiled.

While Casali di Casole offers a variety of diversions from spa treatments to fine dining, the property's game reserve is a rare attraction and is not to be missed. To book a tour to view animals in the reserve's beautiful habitat during your visit, contact the hotel's concierge at [email protected]. While guest hunting is not permitted (due to strict hunting license limits in the area), Owners and guests can arrange to accompany keepers on their daily rounds. Scenic observation towers provide panoramic vistas of the property and landscapes during your preserve journey.

You'll likely see wild hares, pheasant, deer, foxes, and the repugnant wild boar, known in Italian as cinghiale.

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].

Meet Ceramicist Eva Munarin

It's hard not to get inspired while staying at Casali di Casole (envision breathtaking architecture, rolling hills and lush colors at this Tuscan countryside estate).

If anyone knows how truly inspirational the area is, it's local artist Eva Munarin. It was on holiday in Montelupo Fiorentino (one of the most famous ceramics towns in Tuscany) that she decided to put down roots and study pottery at the Scuola di Ceramica di Montelupo Fiorentino. Eva’s ceramic training is strongly tied to the Florentine Renaissance tradition. She creates her hand-decorated ceramics with an artisan procedure that utilizes various styles such as the historic “Majolica” technique, which results in characteristic lines and dots indicative to the firing process.

Thankfully, her love affair with Tuscany didn't end there. Years later, Munarin's husband was offered a job at Casali di Casole, giving them the amazing opportunity to move onto the estate. It was there that Ms. Munarin opened her first studio with a pottery exhibition in 2006. Owners at Casali di Casole are familiar with Eva from classes she has offered over the years and buying souvenirs and gifts from her boutique.

Though she has since relocated to Mensano, a village she dubs, "one of the most amazing small villages you could find in Tuscany," she speaks fondly of her time on the estate. "Casali di Casole is an absolute dream for me, " says Munarin. "The air is so clean and the landscape is the same as it was 100 years ago. "

Take a page from Ms. Munarin's book and create your own Tuscan inspired art in one of her  watercolor painting or pottery classes -- they're open to Owners and hotel guests of all ages and abilities. Or venture off property to get your creative juices flowing (and sip on a little vino) with an art class/ wine tasting at Camporignano Farm.

A third option is to venture to her studio in Mensano. Peruse and purchase items from her collection and engage in a friendly tête-à-tête with the artist herself . Though some of her pieces are very traditional using Majolica, the refined, white-glazed pottery of the Italian Renaissance, Ms. Munarin also offers contemporary pieces like metal, glass and ceramic sculptures inspired by "the heart and the fire."

For more information about Eva and her ceramics, please visit: evapottery.eu

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].

Tuscany in the Spring

Summer may be the high season in Tuscany, but a visit to Casali di Casole in spring can be just as divine. You'll get the chance to indulge in lush vistas, mind-blowing cuisine and all the cultural marvels Florence and its nearby hill towns have to offer, without summer's heat or influx of tourists.

On Foot

As always, a stay at Casali di Casole will provide you with plenty of activities.

By Bike

Spring is also prime time for biking through Tuscany. Nab one of the property's mountain bikes for an afternoon cycle through nearby villages like Casole d'Elsa, Mensano and Monteriggioni. Take in exquisite medieval architecture, shop for regional delicacies at local markets and enjoy breathtaking hilltop views -- all while working up an appetite.

Relax

If you're looking for something a little more low key, visit one of Tuscany's thermal baths. The baths are known to help with a variety of ailments including rheumatism, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems. They're also just a great way to relax and enjoy one of the region's natural wonders.

Get Cultured

Travel to Tuscany around Easter and you'll get the opportunity to enjoy Florence's Festival of the Cart, or the Scoppio del Carro. During this 300-year-old tradition, an elaborate, three-story wagon is rigged with fireworks which are set off in the square between the Baptistry and the Cathedral. A costume parade follows.

April through June is also the Maggio Musicale, a festival that includes opera, classical music concerts and ballet at various venues throughout the city.

Insights into Italian Wine

The Greeks called Italy “Enotria” (Land of Wine) and it is in the countless Enoteca (wineries) that you will taste the wonder that is wine in Italy. Casali di Casole produces an estate wine, Dodici, which is available only to Owners and guest of the property.

Casali di Casole's bilingual concierges can organize a tour of the property's winery, as well as help with recommended Italian winery tours, wine tasting routes and the better places to stop for lunch. But half the fun in Tuscany is simply setting forth on your own path of discovery.

Italy is home to an astounding 2,000 indigenous grape varietals and the best known is that of Casali’s region, Sangiovese. The country is famed for top producers such as Sassicaia and Antinori, and wine styles such as Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and “Super Tuscans.”

Introduced in 1963, DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) refers to the highest classification for Italian wines, denoting controlled (controllata) production methods and guaranteed (garantita) wine quality. There are strict rules governing the production of DOCG wines, most obviously the permitted grape varieties, yield limits, grape ripeness, winemaking procedures and aging specifications. Every DOCG wine is subject to official tasting procedures. To prevent counterfeiting, the bottles have a numbered government seal across the neck.

Brunello di Montalcino, Vin Santo, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - all of these mythical wines hail from the same lovely region - Toscana, Tuscany. The principal red grape varietal, responsible for all DOCG reds, is Sangiovese. Sangiovese clones are also used widely. The grape is capable of producing rich red wines with body and depth and is suitable to long oak ageing. Brunello di Montalcino is probably the most sought after example of Sangiovese, with Rosso di Montalcino a close second. Top producers of these excellent wines include: Argiano, Barbi, Casali Banfi and Il Poggione. Montepulciano, a superbly preserved medieval village, produces some delicious red wines, the Vino Nobile, at wineries like Icario where the new and old world collide.

Chianti Classico (the best of the Chiantis; the second best regarded sub region of Chianti being Chianti Rufina), is probably the most famous Italian wine there is. Chianti Classico stretches south from Florence to Siena and is one of the prettiest wine regions in Europe. World class vintages have included 1997 and 1990, with the wines of Badia a Coltibuono (a perfect destination for a visit and terrace lunch), Marchesi Antinori (also famous for Super Tuscans “Tignanello” and Cabernet dominated “Solaia”) and another Antinori Lodovica with his “Ornellaia” and “Masseto.” And Casali di Volpaia (a world class winery located in the gorgeous hamlet of Volpaia), being some of the most prestigious and well-respected.

“Super Tuscans” are wines that have not been allowed to receive DOCG status as they have been made with “non traditional grapes,” namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The DOCG designation has not limited the ambition or result of vineyards, who have produced exceptional varietals, including Petra, Massa Vecchia, Erik Banti and Tua Rita.

To immerse yourself in the Italian world of wine, visit Casali di Casole. To join us as a guest at Hotel Casali di Casole, please contact us at 866.917.2152 or +39.0577.961508 or via email, [email protected]. To learn more about ownership at Casali di Casole, please contact us via email, [email protected] or [email protected].

A Lexicon Lesson with Private Residence Clubs

Talking about timeshares and private residence clubs is a lot like talking bagels or the best slice of pizza: everybody's got an opinion.

Unfortunately, not everybody has a completely informed opinion. When it comes to considering private residence clubs (also known as fractional real estate and fractional ownership) and timeshares, for both you and your family, it's smart to have some  solid facts at your fingertips.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the two, and let's bring the similarities and differences into focus. We'll look at three details that help most folks understand the dynamics at work.

Time: 

The ways that fractional ownership and timeshares can differ include the period that a location is yours for the occupancy.

Fractional: When you decide on a fractional ownership property such as one of the signature destinations that comprise the Timbers Resorts luxury residences, you're investing in a fraction of the calendar year. You join other Owners and their families for what is typically one fourth, one eighth, or sometimes one twelfth of a 365-day cycle.

Timeshare: If you become a timeshare participant, you're also signing on for a portion of the year, but your period of residence might be a matter of days (perhaps a week) rather than a number of weeks to choose at your leisure.

Space:

Another way to think about the individual features of fractional and timeshare living is to think about the actual sites that each tend to include.

Fractional: Whether its ski-in/ski-out-out to the slopes of Snowmass and Steamboat, or a quick stroll to the cerulean surf of St. Thomas, when you step into the world of fractional luxury residences you are enjoying the crème de la crème of locations. Think Napa Valley. Think the hills of Tuscany. This is the stock and trade of fractional ownership of luxury private residences.

Timeshare: In the realm of the timeshare, location is often important as well. Might be that having a condo near your family is the goal, or that a house on the coast where you spend part of a selling season is key. Timeshare does not have to be purely practical, but it tends not to emphasize the same amenities you'll anticipate with fractional scenarios.

Finances:

There is of course the consideration of money. Long story short, the details that you've already come to understand about fractional luxury are going to drive a different price point than a situation such as that of timeshares, one that does not necessarily include every amenity.

On the other hand, once you've decided that a private residence club is right for you, your fraction of the location can be later mortgaged, willed, placed in a trust, owned by a corporation, and so on. It can be resold by you or a licensed real estate agent. And, according to experts who've looked at private-residence options in the past, your deeded interest stands to appreciate in a way similar to the value of a second home.

Timeshares tend to be more costly to re-sell — the original marketers' costs come into the equation at a higher percentage — and they can be less attractive to investors than private residence clubs because the way that they're used (by many rather than a few) implies a certain loss of value.

In the end, everyone knows what's right for their own lifestyle. As you think about the recipe that suits you — fractional resorts and timeshares being two possible ingredients — use the preceding information that we've just considered to fine tune your destination. The point, as Timbers Resorts sees it, is to always live well. So, choose well. And enjoy!

To learn more about Timbers Resorts and how you can be a part of this lifestyle, please contact us via email at [email protected] or by phone, 888.366.6641.

Buon Natale! Christmastime in Florence

From spring through fall, Florence is flush with tourists. But to see a different side of this glorious city, come for a visit in December while staying at Casali di Casole.

Winter is the one time of year when locals dominate Florence and lines and crowds disappear, so take full advantage. Browse Renaissance art at the Uffizi and visit Michaelangelo’s David at the Accademia and shop Italy’s most famous designer stores from Gucci to Salvatore Ferragamo free of tourist crowds.

There are also plenty of seasonal activities to take advantage of during the holiday season. Visit the German Christmas Market at Piazza Santa Croce for everything from food and wine to decorations, toys and stocking stuffers. If you have children, opt for the Florence Noel Christmas market at Stazione Leopolda near Porta al Prato, where they can have their picture taken with Babbo Natale, the Italian Santa Claus.

Once nighttime falls, take a walk along the Arno River where strands of twinkling lights bring the path alive. Then go ice skating at the Parterre of Piazza della Liberta, or take in a Christmas concert like those held at Chiesa San Marco on via Maggio daily through the holiday season.

The holidays themselves offer unique experiences as well. Celebrate Hanukkah in the Ghetto, Florence’s Jewish neighborhood, where the menorah is lit each night at the synagogue near Santa Croce before festivities commence. If you’ll be in town on Imactulate Conception day, December 8, most shopping will be closed, but you’re in luck nonetheless because you’ll catch food and art fair Fierucolina dell'Immacolata in Piazza Santissima.

Italy is quite religious so Florence more or less shuts down on Christmas Day, but the devout will enjoy the unique chance to attend midnight mass at Il Duomo and celebrate the feast day of Santo Stefano on Christmas in churches and markets around the city.

If you stay on until New Year’s Eve, which is also the Feast of Saint Sylvester, you’ll find that no one knows how to ring in the New Year like Italians. Enjoy an extravagant Tuscan meal then head to the Fortezza da Basso at 10 p.m., where the merriment lasts all night until 8 a.m. the next day.

Good thing for that excellent Italian coffee.

To join us as a guest at Hotel Casali di Casole over the holidays or any day, please contact us at 866.917.2152 or +39.0577.961508 or via email, [email protected]. To learn more about ownership at Casali di Casole and spend the holidays at your home away from home, please visit our website or contact us via email, [email protected] or [email protected].

A Quick Study in Wine & Food: How to Pair, Where to Start

From a perfectly seared New York Strip steak to a fruit-and-spice cradled spear of Caribbean shrimp, Owners and guests of Timbers Resorts know that one exquisite meal elevates the day. What we eat can lift our spirits, energize our evenings and afternoons, as well as open our senses to new experiences. Shouldn't our glass of wine stand to do the same?

One scenario that the luxury residence surroundings of the Timbers Resort properties properly attend to is just this: it is the case that the wine cellar on site is as crucial as the chef. That being said, you don't need to be a sommelier to know some basics about wine-and-food pairings. Have a look at the following starter's guide, and then begin your own journey into the cork-and-cuisine possibilities of dining at Timbers Resorts.

Wine and Food: Basics for Any Fine Pairing

  • Contrast Complex and Simple: Say you order the sumac-rubbed bluefin tuna at Cocina Del Mar, located at Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Sumac can be a big flavor, simple but sparkling with lemony citrus. A good way to approach forward flavors like that is by selecting subtle and complex wines to accompany. Think oaky Chardonnay blends, anything mellow, buttery and layered. On the other hand, if you went for a complex dish full of heat and rich tastes -- say a tropical choice from the The Preserve at Botany Bay -- then something crisp and simple like a sauvignon would make a refreshing complement (or you can join fruit with fruit and rarely go wrong ... so think riesling, viognier, and the like).
  • Respect Your Sugars and Salts: Here's a sommelier's secret: salty food generally does a number on wine. So, for example, if you're digging into anything that crackles with bacon, like the Squab en Croute at FARM -- the restaurant at The Carneros Inn -- then lean toward soft, jammy merlots and riojas. The sweet and the salty meet in the middle, and you'll enjoy both as they work together.
  • Match a Treat with a Treat: If it's an evening for that fine steak at Truffle Pig at One Steamboat Place, don't skimp. Match a great cut of beef with a great pour of vinum. Go up to a worthy, top of the line pinot noir or cabernet. On the other hand, that kind of wine might be less well matched if you're enjoying a wood-fired pizza at Pazzia Pizzeria in Tuscany, one of the specialties of the options offered at Casali di Casole. In that case, it's perfectly alright to look for a more modest and less developed red. These are the perfect opportunities to play around and search for that surprising lower-end bottle, something that you can claim as your find of the month!

Finally, remember that wine is supposed to be fun, something pleasurable. Don't feel like you have to obey any given rule(s). Knowing some of the above basics should help you navigate, but never get caught in that "no merlot!" trap they set for audiences in the movie Sideways. Wine is in the palette of the imbiber. Go your own way, and enjoy!

To discover more about Timbers Resorts and the dining options at each of our properties, contact us via email at [email protected] or by phone, 888.366.6641.

Casali di Casole’s Cinematic Connection (Who was Luchino Visconti?)

Luchino Visconti may have died in 1976 but his presence still looms large at Casali di Casole. And that’s not just because the estate’s Bar Visconti bears his name.

Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo and son of the Duke di Modrone was born in 1906 into one of Northern Italy’s wealthiest families. He started his film career in 1935 as an assistant to French filmmaker Jean Renoir and it didn’t take long for Visconti to make his impact on cinema.

In 1943, his film Ossessione (Obsession) became the first movie in the Italian neorealism movement, and he is sometimes nicknamed the “father of neorealism." This genre of Italian film and literature worked to realistically portray the economic and social hardships associated with World War II, particularly among the lower classes.

Visconti put out a string of critically acclaimed films in the 1940s and 1950s. However, not one to be satisfied with conquering a single medium, he also earning a stellar reputation as a theater director while working with the Rina Morelli-Paolo Stoppa Company and produced a number of highly respected opera productions starring the world-renowned soprano Maria Callas.

Visconti fully turned his attention to filmmaking in the 60s and earned an Academy Award nomination in screenwriting for 1969’s The Damned, following it up with 1971’s Death in Venice, arguably his most famous film.

The 1960s were notable for far more than Visconti’s Academy Award nod. During this era one of his six siblings, Earl Edoardo Visconti, purchased Casali di Casole. Edoardo loved hosting a glamorous Hollywood crowd on the property, and Luchino fit right in, even living in the castle with his brother.

Casali di Casole embraces all that is traditionally Tuscan but it’s that touch of cinematic glamour that sets it apart. The Bar Visconti was designed with Edoardo and Luchino’s glamorous parties in mind, right down to the atmospheric light that ensures you’ll always be ready for your close-up.

Learn more about this treasured estate by visiting the website or via email, [email protected] or by inquiring via email at [email protected].

Tuscany: I Could Get Used To This

This guest post is by Sarah Elbert, Executive Editor of Delta Sky. Sarah writes on her recent visit to Castello di Casole in Tuscany. Before coming to Sky, Sarah was editorial director of magazines including Northwest WorldTraveler and Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Postcards. She has been a newspaper editor, a freelance writer and an Associated Press reporter, riding with the White House travel pool (back in the Clinton days) and covering everything from natural disasters to a cat kidney transplant. Sarah has written for The New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Sun—but not the NY Daily News.

A few weeks ago, after a long day of travel and not much sleep, I found myself looking out over the Tuscan hills on a beautiful afternoon, a glass of pinot grigio in hand and a plate of flatbread, melon and prosciutto before me. I felt like rubbing my eyes with my fists as a cartoon sound effect played in the background. It wasn't just the fact that I was in Italy on a rather last-minute jaunt, or the sun and warm air settling into my tired body, or the delicious but simple food, or the almost laughably postcard view from our table perched on the edge of a hill, on the patio of a luxuriously restored farmhouse where I was staying. It was all of it.

The 4,800-square-foot farmhouse, Pulcinello, is one of 14 that Timbers Resorts has so far lovingly restored and sold as fractional ownership vacation homes—i.e. for 465,000 euros, you can buy a one-twelfth fraction of one of the homes and you get it for a guaranteed three weeks, plus additional weeks if there are any not being used. Pulcinello and the other casali (farmhouses) sit on an estate anchored by the Castello di Casole, a circa 1680 castle being renovated as a 41-suite boutique hotel (along with several hotel villas) scheduled to open in April 2012. The castle was the hub of an estate originally owned by the Bargagli family, with sharecroppers growing sunflowers, olives, grapes and wheat on its 5,500 acres.

Now, with 4,200 of those acres owned by Timbers Resorts, it’s one of the largest private landholdings in Italy. You can stay in one farmhouse and not even see another, sort of a luxury nonresort, soon to include all the amenities of a more traditional resort just a short drive, walk or bike ride away (with a spa, restaurants and bar under construction at the hotel). The estate even grows its own grapes and olives and a local onsite winery, Le Macchie, bottles its own Sangiovese blend and olive oil for guests and owners. The resort will also deliver mountain bikes to your door, arrange for private Italian or pottery lessons and do your grocery shopping before you arrive. Um, can you tell I was a happy camper? (I’m looking forward to opening my mailbox to find the jar I painted with a pastoral scene of hills and cypress trees—it needed to be glazed before being sent to me in the States).

The farmhouses, of which there will be 28—most of them restored and a few built from scratch using local reclaimed materials—honor their Tuscan past while integrating many modern amenities: a soaking tub set into the floor before a giant picture window, infinity-edge pools, pizza ovens, luxe furnishings and, of course, Wi-Fi. No surprise then, that all of the finished casali have been snapped up by owners, though they are building more and there are a few you can buy outright, in addition to ownership opportunities at the hotel. However, owners do occasionally rent out the properties, and soon the hotel will be open for business—though the beautiful suites will also run on the pricey side.

We used Pulcinello as a home base to explore Tuscany, from an evening in the medieval town of Siena, about a half-hour away, to a wine tasting and tour in Chianti at Winery Principe Corsini, to a day spent exploring the Uffizi and high-end stores of Florence with a personal shopper. I had been to Florence about a decade before, but hadn’t yet made it to the Tuscan countryside, and I can tell you its reputation is certainly deserved. The people, the food, the scenery, the shopping, the art ... it simply doesn’t get much better. And whether you stay in the luxe surroundings of Castello di Casole or a more rustic locale, you’ll leave wondering when you can come back—and possibly planning a carb-free diet for the next month or so.

Cross posted over at Delta Sky Magazine on Delta.com and see Sarah's slideshow of her trip.