Written and produced by Amy Elbert
Photographs by Bret Robins & Amy Elbert
Romantics fantasize about buying and restoring a rundown stone farmhouse in northern Italy. That’s probably why the book Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and, later, the movie of the same name were so appealing. As the book and movie lightheartedly relate, renovating a crumbling European farmhouse—particularly when you’re a clock-watching American—can be frustratingly slow and difficult. But Timbers Resorts, a Colorado-based real estate development and management company, took the homeowner angst out of the equation. In the past several years, the company has converted 15 structures scattered over a 4,200-acre estate near Florence and Siena into luxurious furnished residences with pergola-covered terraces, infinity-edge swimming pools, and Italian wood-burning pizza ovens. Plans call for converting a total of 28 casali (houses).
Timbers Resorts acquired the estate—Castello di Casole (the Castle of Casole)—in 2005 and worked hand in hand with Tuscan historical preservationists and regional builders to rehab the stone farm structures, as well as a castle/villa that sits at the property’s highest point. The centuries-old -castle (the tower dates from the 10th century) opened in July as the Hotel Castello di Casole with 41 luxury suites, a spa and wellness center in the vaulted former wine cellar, two restaurants, and a bar.