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].

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].

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].

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].

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.

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].