Casali di Casole Blog

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].

Visiting Siena

It's true that you don't have to leave the lush grounds of Casali di Casole to take in the extraordinary beauty that is Tuscany. But since you're here in Italy, you owe it to yourself to experience everything. And Siena is so close ...

Siena is far and away one of the world’s most charming medieval cities. It is said to have been founded by Senius, son of Remus (who is the founder of Rome along with his brother Romulus, if you remember your mythology) and is reachable by an easy one hour drive from Florence or a slightly longer trip if you take the scenic Strada Chiantigiana through the rolling hills of Chianti. That translates to a mere 45 minutes from your home or hotel suite at Casali di Casole.

One of Siena’s most enjoyable activities is simply getting lost in the maze of narrow streets, alleys and staircases that make up its historic center, which is also a Unesco World Heritage Site. Although many European cities have now banned cars from their historic areas, Siena was the first to do so in 1966.

Casali di CasoleThe heart of Siena lies in the Piazza del Campo, a fanlike area that used to house a Roman forum but was rebuilt sometime during the rule of the Council of Nine from 1287 to 1355, along with the Palazzo Pubblico (civic palace) and the Duomo of Siena. The civic palace’s courtyard will give you access to the Torre del Mangia, where you can climb up 500 steps for panoramic views as well as the less aerobic Civic Museum, where you will be treated to Sienese painting. Afterward, step inside the Duomo, where highlights are the gilded dome and the frescoed baptistery.

The Piazza del Campo’s most famous sight is only viewable twice a year on July 2 and August 16 however, when a famous horse race called the Palio has taken place every year since 1644. In this race, 10 horses and riders race bareback while in the colors of their city ward tear around the Piazza three times. The riders are allowed to use their whips against one another and the turns are treacherous, meaning that horses regularly finish the race without their jockeys. A funny quirk of this race is that a horse can win the race even without its jockey on board.

The second essential stop after the Piazza del Campo is the Medicean Fortress which is home to the Enoteca Italiana, which promotes wines from around the world. Here you’ll find 1,600 varieties of Italian wine available for tasting and sale as well as access to the restaurant’s excellent food. The warm atmosphere makes it easy to linger all day. Iif you happen to be there in July or August during the Siena Jazz Festival, you’ll be happy to find yourself in the same building as the Siena Jazz School. More than 30 performances take place in front of the Enoteca and in other scattered locales around the province.

If Siena’s spectacular charm has you captivated and one day isn’t enough – no problem – it’s so close to Casali di Casole that you can return for a glass of wine at Bar Visconti, a glorious night’s rest in your suite or villa and then go back to exploring Siena any time.

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].

Forget Me Not: 5 Ways to Say I Love You This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day may be the most romantic day of the year, however there can be a bit of pressure to come up with thoughtful ways to celebrate. Fear not, as we’ve got you covered with creative ideas. Simply start with a trip to a Timbers Resorts property and then wow your Valentine with one of these romantic gestures.

Pine-Creek-Cookhouse-300x200A sleigh ride to Pine Creek Cookhouse

Legendary log cabin restaurant Pine Creek Cookhouse is the perfect setting for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner while staying at Dancing Bear Aspen or The Timbers Club in Steamboat. But make it a night to truly remember by taking a horse-drawn sleigh to the restaurant. Cuddle up together with blankets under the stars and bring a canteen of hot, mulled wine along for the ride.

A hot air balloon ride over wine country

Wake up bright and early at Mayacama in Sonoma and start your Valentine’s Day with a private hot air balloon ride for two at sunrise, drifting over the beautiful rolling hills of Northern California Wine Country. Napa’s Balloons Above the Valley will serve you pastries and coffee before you take off then serve up a romantic champagne brunch for you when you return.

Couple’s spa day

Your one and only is already feeling pampered if you’ve taken them to Rancho Valencia Spa & Resort in Santa Fe, California, but a trip to the newly renovated spa is pure bliss. In honor of Valentine’s Day, go with the “LOVE” package. Begin with a custom-blended essential oil and clay sun bake followed by 30 minutes of soaking in one of Rancho Valencia’s outdoor tubs. Finish off with a nice long couples massage.

Candlelight dining on the beach

The views from Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas are so beautiful that you won’t want to leave the beach when the sun goes down. So don’t! Take a long walk at sunset and return to a private, candlelit dinner with a personalized menu right on the beach.

Picnic in the Italian countryside

Combine Tuscany’s three greatest charms – wine, food and scenery – with a Valentine’s Day picnic on the grounds of Casali di Casole. Have the concierge arrange to pack you up a special lunch and find a private spot on Casali di Casole’s 4200 acres of classic Italian countryside to let the hours pass you by.

Have another romantic idea in mind? Just ask the concierge at any Timbers Resorts property to help out and make it a Valentine's Day to remember.

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].

Fitness is the Key to Happiness

Every stay at Timbers Resorts is about a kind of return. A return to friends, family, good food, good drink — and wellness.

Our Owners and guests get it. Fitness and good health are a hallmark of any vacation that restores us. It's what returns us to the rest of our lives with renewed purpose and vigor.

Start with the backdrop. Right out your door there's a beach, or you'll be on the ski slopes or trails for hiking, biking, and walking. Each luxury fractional resort in our expansive portfolio offers massages, spas on property, weights, and the space to make your health a part of your daily experience.

Have a look at the following highlights, among the best of what Timbers Resorts has to offer.

  • Dancing Bear Aspen: You might start a crisp winter day with a snowshoe hike. In the summertime, Owners and guests experience rooftop yoga against stunning mountain backdrops.
  • Timbers Bachelor Gulch: Our Beaver Creek property brings a personal touch to your vacation program. Nutritionists are on hand to craft a delicious and healthy regimen for your stay, and you can work with certified trainers in the spa.
  • Esperanza: Walk the lavish greens and open your body and mind to the fresh air and sunshine of 18 holes by the ocean — playing through the Jack Nicklaus designed Cabo del Sol course.
  • The Residences a Kapalua Bay: Whether it's a tropical hike from the shore to the mountains of Maui, or a day at the sails of a catamaran, your inner outdoor athlete blossoms in Kapalua Bay.
  • The Orchard at the Carneros Inn: Feeling ambitious? Lean in with a few sessions of hardcore calisthenics with the Carneros Boot Camp.
  • The Rocks Club: You're in the heart of Arizona golf country, here. Nine world renowned courses await.
  • The Timbers Club: An experience of Snowmass is often about days of ski-in and ski-out fun. But what about morning laps in our heated pool? Or a pre-lunch workout in the full cardio theatre?
  • Mayacama: Even the young ones who join us in Sonoma get in on the action. Juniors Camp means sporting all day long — from golf to swimming and tennis.
  • Rancho Valencia: The #1 Tennis Resort in California according to Tennis magazine beckons players of all skill levels to indulge in days of matches — and evenings of restorative spas.
  • The Preserve at Botany Bay: It's hard to imagine The US Virgin Islands without spending time on the water. Now dive in! Suit up for diving, or snorkel spectacular reefs.
  • One Steamboat Place: Beyond skiing, get to the core of whole-body wellness with our Motion Studio and state-of-the-art spa.
  • Casali di Casole: Take your passion for yoga to the next level. Join our outdoor classes for the breathtaking vistas of Casali di Casole's vineyards and hills — among the most beautiful in Tuscany.
  • The Sebastian - Vail: Colorado clearly means skiing all winter long, but it also boasts fresh air and clean rivers throughout the summer. Take a long hike to a perfect fishing hole and then cast some flies till dinnertime.

Feeling that every part of you is better. It's one of the promises you can make to yourself when you step into the experience of Timbers Resorts. When it comes to fitness, your good health is always top of mind.

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].

The Skinny on Stemware

Wine glasses come in all shapes and sizes, but have you ever wondered why? While there’s plenty of debate over to what degree this is true, it's contended by many that the shape of the glass alters the wine tasting experience.

In support of this theory, let’s start with the basic anatomy of a wine glass. The foot is the base of the wine glass and gives the glass its stability. The stem is the thin, vertical portion of a wine glass. The thickness of the stem is not important. It is designed to make sure the drinker’s hand does not warm the wine or obscure the view of the wine with fingers or fingerprints. Although stemless wineglasses have become trendy, serious wine drinkers deem this undesirable. Finally, there is the bowl of the wineglass, the most important and varied element of a wine glass that holds the wine itself.

Almost all good wine glasses have a “tulip” shape. This means that the glass is wider towards the bottom and tapered near the top. The tulip shape allows the wine to be swirled without spilling and also traps the aromas inside the glass where they are better directed toward the nose.

Red wine: A red wine glass is the fullest and roundest of the wine glass categories. This increases the surface area of the wine, allowing air to open the wine to open and reveal the complex aromas and flavors. Experienced wine drinkers may get more particular – for example, using a taller, narrower glass for heavier red wines in order to direct the wine to the back of the mouth while using a shorter, wider glass for light wines in order to direct the wine to the tip of the tongue.

White wine: White wine glasses are smaller, narrower and more upright. This allows the aromas to be released, but minimizes the surface area in order to maintain a cooler temperature. Just like with red wine, a taller glass is sometimes used for fuller, more mature wines and a shorter glass used for younger, crisper wines.

Sparkling wine: A sparkling wine glass, or flute, is narrow and upright in order to maintain the carbonation and concentrate the bubbles at the surface of the wine. As an alternative there is the bowl-shaped coupe. The coupe emerged in the 1930s when Champagnes were much sweeter, but have largely fallen out of favor. They are sometimes used in celebratory situations when less carbonation may be desirable or for use in champagne towers.

Can you taste the difference?

We invite you to join us an Owner at Timbers Resorts and toast to the sweet life. Learn more by calling 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.963.4626 (direct) or email [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].

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].