Casali di Casole Blog

Our 7 Favorite Things to Do in Tuscany

Timbers Resorts has perfected the fine art of Private Residence Clubs by creating authentic experiences for Owners and guests to feel right at home. Whether it’s your first time visiting us at Casali di Casole or you’ve been an Owner for more than fifteen years, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite things to do while in Tuscany.

Pasta

1. Private Cooking Lesson

Using the finest local ingredients, including fruits and vegetables from the surrounding gardens, learn the secrets of Italian cuisine with private cooking classes taught in your own villa. The best local chefs and cooks will come show you how to make a traditional meal, a true Italian pizza in your own pizza oven, or prepare delicious home-made pasta. They will provide all of the ingredients so you just need to arrive hungry and ready to taste whatever you make. You can even satisfy your sweet tooth and learn the art of Italian pastries.

Winery in Italy

2. Wine Tasting

Surrounded by more than 100 acres of vineyards, Casali di Casole will truly inspire wine lovers. Arrange in-residence private wine tastings, expertly paired dinners with a sommelier and winery tours from small family producers to globally recognized wineries. Out of all the things to do in Tuscany, this is close to the top of our list for a true Italian experience.

Truffle Hunting

3. Truffle Hunting

Staying at Casali di Casole gives you the upper hand when truffle hunting. This activity takes place at all different times of the year. In the fall, owners and guests can experience the special season of white truffles and with the help of an expert truffle hunters, they can find the exclusive delicacies.

bike in Italy

4. Biking

Biking is a must when visiting Tuscany. At Casali di Casole we can arrange a bike tour with a professional guide who will meet you and take you through the breathtaking Tuscan countryside.

 

5. Guided Tours

Once in Tuscany, you cannot miss the chance to discover the beauty and history of its well known cities and towns. Professional guides will lead you through Florence and Siena, as well as Lucca and Pisa, and to uncover the secrets of the smallest medieval gems like San Gimignano, Volterra.

 

6. Hiking

Hiking in Italy is one of the easiest ways to see the best of the country’s natural landscape. Hike through vineyards and olive groves, past historic castles and hamlets to relish the peace and harmony of the landscape. Guided tours accommodate individuals of various abilities and pace, and appeal to both the casual yet enthusiastic walker, as well as the experienced hiker. The estate also offers a trail system to enjoy the beauty of our nature and our gravel roads.

 

7. Learn Italian

While staying in Italy, we encourage you to learn our culture and language as much as possible. Enhance what you may already know or simply familiarize yourself with the beautiful Italian language. Native Italian instructors are available for one-on-one or group instruction at every level. Every time you stay at Casali di Casole, you can learn a little more and have fun!

 

These are just a few of the many things to do in Tuscany. When you plan your next trip to Casali di Casole, how many of these activities will you add to your to-do list?

 

To learn more about ownership opportunities at Casali di Casole, please contact us at 888.892.1278. To inquire about booking a luxury vacation rental, please call us at 855.571.8473.

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 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. “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.”

A Better Way ...

So what’s a dreamer to do?

Rising from the morass of Italian second-home ownership is Casali di Casole – A Timbers Resort. Scattered across the sprawling estate, 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 can have significant leeway to design these homes the way they want.

“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 Casali 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 have it all.

Except for the headaches, that is.

 

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.

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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]

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].

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].