In 1984, Count Antonio Bolza decamped to the Umbrian countryside, where he settled alongside a 10th-century estate that once belonged to the Marchese del Monte and, later, the bishop of Todi. A decade hence, ignoring skeptical friends, he acquired the surrounding 2,700 acres, which included 50 abandoned farmhouses and a dilapidated 10th-century castle.
But it wasn’t until Count Benedikt, Bolza’s son, who studied architecture, took over the project that the family began the painstaking process of a house-by-house renovation. For decades, Benedikt traipsed around the gardens with a camera hanging off his shoulder, studying every angle of the space. “We’re not property developers,” he told Condé Nast Traveller. “It’s been 26 years, and it’s still not finished.”
And yet it remains an ideal place to experience the region’s charms. Now several of the property’s most beautiful homes are available for short-term rental. Our favorite is Arrighi, a six-bedroom residence that includes separate guest quarters, a pool, and a pool house. With magnificent views over the Niccone Valley, it has been comfortably furnished in high style. The airy, renovated rooms were refurbished in modern wood and marble, yet they are teeming with antiques, trinkets, and vases that were handpicked from local markets by Benedikt himself.
As for amenities? Prepare to be spoiled. A concierge service will cater to just about every whim, and a full staff of chefs, drivers, and maids are just a quick call way. Otherwise, venture out to one of the estate’s restaurants, such as the Osteria, which serves traditional Umbrian cuisine and pizza for lunch and dinner.
On the activity front, it doesn’t get much better than reading by the pool, but sportier types will take advantage of a ride through the Umbrian hillside on some of Italy’s finest dressage horses. There are also cooking lessons, clay-pigeon shooting, and fishing in some of Reschio’s pristine lakes. The truly fearless can try their luck at hunting the area’s countless—and slightly terrifying—wild boars.
And for those who aren’t legally permitted to vacation in Europe at the moment, let’s hope things improve by March 2021, when the Bolza family will reveal the transformation of Reschio’s castle into a full-service hotel.
Elena Clavarino is an Associate Editor at AIR MAIL