Casali di Casole Blog

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.


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.


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.


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 and see Sarah's slideshow of her trip.


Castello di Casole Owner Profile

Rick and Nancy Richardson, Owners at Castello di Casole, have long loved all things Italian – from the culture to the countryside to its warm people and historic traditions. The happy couple first met as students at Duke University and have since enjoyed a life dedicated to continued education, stimulating careers and hearty adventures. Nancy’s work has spanned several fields such as human services, where she was the executive director of two non-profits; in the gourmet food world, where she spent a year as a chef; and in the legal realm as a Trust & Estates lawyer for 20 years. After serving as a Naval officer on a nuclear submarine, Rick joined PricewaterhouseCoopers for 35 years in international banking and financial services.

Sharing a passion for travel, they’ve always had a special connection to Italy in particular. They fell in love with Tuscany several years ago, when they, along with several other couples, began voyaging throughout the region the old-fashioned way, by embarking on hikes that lasted from eight to eleven days each.

“One of the more scenic walks was our most recent, when we spent a week at Castello di Casole and then hiked from Siena to Florence. We already loved Tuscany having honeymooned in Florence and Siena and subsequent trips, but the hike made us realize it was an area where we wanted to put down more permanent roots,” Rick says. “We initially thought we wanted to buy a property, but Castello di Casole turned out to be the perfect solution.”

The Richardsons are Owners in the charming farmhouse, Casale Pulcinello. Among their favorite aspects of ownership at Castello di Casole are the people who work there and the nearby towns to discover.

“During our visits, we’ve enjoyed getting to know the locals,” Rick says. “A friend has introduced us to several shop owners, including the butcher in Gracciano, the baker at Forno di Gracciano and the wine merchant in Colle Alta.”

Though they don’t have children of their own, the Richardsons are very close to their extended family, including their “nieces, nephews and godchildren whom we hope will visit us at Castello di Casole.”