The Tuscan retreat where you can live like a Ferragamo

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Nestled in the hills of Tuscany, a small, unpretentious medieval village is home to one of Italy’s most luxurious properties. Il Borro, the 1,100 hectare Relais & Châteaux estate, is owned by Ferruccio Ferragamo, son of designer Salvatore Ferragamo.

For years, this was the private retreat of the Ferragamo family. “My father is passionate about hunting,” explains Vittoria Ferragamo, Ferruccio’s daughter. “He rented it out for hunting retreats. “

The Borgo, or the reserve’s main residence, was heavily bombed during World War II. “Half the house was still destroyed, but my dad always believed in the place,” she says.

In 1993, he reunited the family and told them he wanted to buy the estate, but wanted them all to be involved. “He said to me, ‘This is a big family project, are we going to do this?’ », Recalls Vittoria, who was eight years old at the time.

Thus began more than a decade of restoration. It wasn’t just the Borgo that needed to be rehabilitated – the estate includes an entire village that was passed between the Medici family of Florence, the Torriani family of Milan, a princess of the Savoy dynasty and ultimately the Prince Amédée of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, who sold it to the Ferragamos. Today, the old houses of the village have been transformed into suites and shops.

“It was so much fun,” says Vittoria, from the early days in Il Borro, when she and her siblings played with the village children. Residents were given a helping hand with how the restoration should go. “It was collaborative,” she says. “We wanted their contribution to help bring the place and its old beauty back to life.”

The Ferragamos created a beautiful agriturismo hotel, but a few years later Relais & Châteaux approached them to elevate it to a higher level of hospitality. Today a luxury retreat with a gourmet restaurant, several swimming pools, an equestrian center and more, the estate is always in flux. A golf course is expanding, for example, and a new horse breeding and training program has just started.

Guests can rent rooms of different sizes in the medieval village or the countryside, or an entire private house. Villa Casetta has four bedrooms, a garden, an infinity pool, a living room with a fireplace and a view of the vineyards. Villa Mulino comprises two houses, a main villa with a living room, a kitchen, three bedrooms and two bathrooms; and a small villa with an additional kitchen, living room and two bedrooms. Formerly a water mill, Villa Mulino has been renovated to retain its cottage charm while meeting luxury standards. An old reservoir has been transformed into a private swimming pool. Finally, Villa Il Borro is a 10-bedroom property in the heart of the estate, and often hosts weddings and other parties. All rooms have Ferragamo brand toiletries and other luxury amenities.

The Ferragamos also have homes on the estate and can be seen riding horses or working in the garden with their children. “It is really in our philosophy and our way of living as a family to play sports, to eat organic”, confides Vittoria “We have always wanted to share these passions and create hospitality.

Guests can relax in one of the two swimming pools – one overlooking the medieval village and the other facing the Tuscan hills – play golf with mountain views, take a horseback ride, visit the art collection private (with Picassos, a Renoir and Warhol, among others), or visit the artisans of the village.

There is a jeweler who has worked with the family for 30 years, a textile store called Busatti who once made the uniforms for Napoleon’s troops, a ceramicist and furniture restorer, etc. A highlight, and appropriate for the Ferragamo family, is a bespoke shoemaker from Florence. Customers can choose their materials and style of footwear, take their measurements, and wait for their new custom-made footwear to be shipped to their home. The artisans of the village also organize classes for children, such as embroidery and ceramics. Each craftsman receives a free space from the Ferragamo family on the condition that the shop is also a laboratory. “We want things to be done on site,” says Vittoria.

This is also the case for restaurants. Il Borro has a huge vegetable garden where all the products of the points of sale are grown. “Gardening is a great love for me,” says Vittoria. “I think it’s so important to know where your food comes from and to eat healthy.”

The family also owns a mill that makes all of the flour for the hotel’s bread and pizzas. There are 190 chickens on the property for the eggs, and the Ferragamos have agreements with local sheep and cow herders to receive cheese.

Chef Andrea Campani takes all this local food and turns it into country-style Italian cuisine at Osteria del Borro, with wood-fired dishes prepared in a traditional oven. At the more laid-back Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, which also has a home in Dubai, guests can dine poolside and enjoy a pizza night.

The entire Il Borro property is solar powered. The family’s solar field produces enough energy to power more than 500 homes. This is more than what the hotel can use, so it sells the energy back to the government for use in surrounding towns. Water consumption is also carefully managed. The lakes in the estate are used as reservoirs to store rainfall during the year, which is used for agriculture and irrigation.

Vittoria has lived in or near Il Borro for most of her life, and has become a part of her. When I ask if it’s strange having strangers in what was once her family home, she laughs. “We love it,” she said. “We can share the beauty of this place, and that helps keep it alive. This is the best thing.

Updated: November 29, 2021, 4:47 a.m.


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