The Maremma region of Tuscany is deified for a reason. Occupying the western coast of Italy, dotted with almost-too-picturesque-to-be-true attractions such as the Renaissance town of Grosseto and the thermal springs of Saturnia, it is a feast for the senses. Quality (but deceptively simple) food (tortelli and acquacotta, a brothy soup made of leftover bread and vegetables), a wealth of natural wonders (mountain peaks, sandy beaches, rolling hills) … it’s the stuff of dreams, or, at a bare minimum, idyllic holidays.
Castello di Vicarello is the center of things; this 12th-century castle is surrounded by organic vineyards and farmland, with countryside views from every corner of the nine-suite hotel. But it’s the hospitable owners, Carlo and Aurora Baccheschi Berti, and their three sons, Neri, Brando, and Corso, who make the Castello feel like the only place to be.
To the international cognoscenti, the Castello is a known quantity; the family has been doing their thing since they first restored it, in the 1970s. But just in time for the summer ’22 season, a few important updates have been implemented. The pool and indoor veranda have been spiffed up, and the Al Fresco Spa, a Balinese gazebo located in the olive grove, has also been updated, so guests can now enjoy massages and yoga classes while surrounded by nature.
In the Baccheschi Berti family, the art of living well is a cardinal virtue. (In the 90s, they had a popular fashion brand, Bungai.) Farm-to-table meals are enjoyed both privately and communally; making new friends is part of the Castello experience. The wine is consumed by Castello guests in the vein of Bacchus, and produce and olive oil that are used in the hotel’s kitchen are grown on the property. Members of the staff make the house jam, along with sun-ripened pelati (peeled) and passata (puréed) tomatoes. The wild-boar ragù, a house specialty, is made using meat from the family’s neighboring farm; someone’s Florentine grandmother perfected the recipe, but it’s closely guarded, so don’t even ask.
The Baccheschi Bertis will even lend guests their car. And we’re not talking about a Kia: the family’s vintage Fiat 500 will be your loaner, and they’ll even arrange an itinerary and route to ensure an optimal tour of the region.
This 12th-century castle is surrounded by organic vineyards and farmland, with countryside views from every corner.
Each week, a new spate of events is unveiled, and the family is on hand to make sure it all runs smoothly. An astronomer from Siena might pop in to lead an après-dinner stargazing excursion; jazz musicians might inspire an impromptu dance party.
It’s enough to keep guests returning time and time again to Maremma. But those who crave at least a few days in a metropolis can now experience a bit of the Castello magic in Milan. Neri Baccheschi Berti has recently opened Vico Milano, a seven-suite guesthouse designed by Sicilian architect Giuseppe Alito, to a fair amount of fanfare. It’s located on Corso Genova, just a short walk (in Prada kitten heels) to the Duomo and the stylish Via Tortona district. An ideal place to stop after a few days at the Castello, before flying home out of Malpensa to whatever version of reality awaits.
Ashley Baker is a Deputy Editor for Air Mail