While hunting in Italy's Tuscany region in 1985, about 40 miles southeast of Florence, Ferruccio Ferragamo came upon an old, somewhat dilapidated (and damaged in World War II) country estate called Il Borro. To his eyes, however, this was no crumbing old estate; this was a magnificent place blessed by nature that could be restored to its original glory. He fell in love with this historic old place, and the town of San Giustino Valdarno, in which it was located. Eight years later, he bought the property.
Today the property is run by Ferragamo's son, Salvatore, who has faithfully restored all the ancient buildings...and, in the process, created a true Tuscan treasure.
The resort is centered around a hamlet from medieval times and a 10-bedroom main villa. The Ferragamos have reincarnated Il Borro to its former status as a luxury country resort...with lodging choices ranging from apartments and suites to villas and farmhouses, all constructed from traditional materials and decorated with handicrafts and furniture created by local artisans. And it's all set in a medieval village complete with cobblestone streets and paths.
Accommodations are Italian-Rustic, with muted colors, wood furnishings, and large windows that flood the rooms with natural light. The villas, for instance, date from 1848. They're in a structure surrounded by manicured gardens with a fountain, and equipped with heated pool, fitness room, Turkish bath, sauna, and billiards table.
From the windows of the secluded Villa Chiocci Alto, you can see the entire estate, including pastures filled with white Chianina cattle, olive groves, and vineyards.
The farmhouses are situated in merlot vineyards, constructed with exposed wooden beams, terra cotta ceramic pieces, and hand-carved wooden furniture, and surrounded by pastures. And the estate's two country houses sit right on the river.
Many of the accommodations have fireplaces, and pools are scattered around Il Borro.
The Ferragamos have created a "going" concern on their old estate. They started producing wine in 1993, and today produce award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Syrah, and a special wine unique to Tuscany, called Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice. This year, the family began a transition to an organic and sustainable method that eliminates the use of synthetics to fertilize the soil. In addition, they also produce olive oil and grappa (a grape-based Italian brandy),
People come to the Tuscan hills to re-charge and rejuvenate; so it's natural that Il Borro has a spa with body-and-soul-soothing treatments, and serving light cuisine such as Pappa al Pomodoro, a soup of sun-ripened tomatoes grown on the property, or Degustazione Formaggi Tipici Toscani con Miele del Borro, a sampling of local sheep's milk cheeses drizzled with the estate's own honey.
Il Borro's signature restaurant is Osteria del Borro, specializing in seasonal ingredients, many grown right on the grounds.
Also on the grounds is an art gallery specializing in works from the Ferragamos' private collection - covering more than five centuries of Italian art. And you can ogle the art while sipping some of the estate's wines. There's horseback riding, too. Strolling among the shops of the Il Borro craftsmen. Classes in Tuscan cuisine, taught by an estate chef. Hunting excursions (after all, that's how Ferruccio Ferragamo first found this place!). Tennis. Golf. Hiking. Mountain-biking. And tours of local cultural and historic sites.
Even in a country of special places, Tuscany is special. And if you're looking for your own place under the Tuscan sun...you couldn't do better than Il Borro!