Newly renovated castle brims with true Tuscan charm and a sprig of fresh offerings
There is no lack of charm in Tuscany‘s wine region. Chianti constantly lures wide-eyed wanderers into its rolling hills, teeming with verdant vineyards, quaint towns, and gastronomic opportunities. The landscape preserves its archaic beauty, lined with a dense profusion of tall trees barricading territorial flagpoles, marching medieval properties, one of them being COMO’s Castello Del Nero.
Occupying a stretch of 740 acres, the historic estate towers right in the heart of Chianti, meeting the eye with its cheerful, fresh beige paint ardently lined by tall, narrow trees that seem to shoot from its well-maintained courtyard. Castello Del Nero carries a Tuscan legacy, being a former home to the Florentine family Del Nero, bearing the coat of arms of a rearing greyhound.
Those who regard royalty with respect will find a home here, for many of its regal traces are well-preserved, including the terracotta floors, haunting fresco walls, lofty vaulted ceilings, and plush upholstery. Some secret corners still exist, including the Promenade of the Marquise, constructed for the repose corner of Marquise Teresa Del Nero which also leads to a hidden passage to the woods just beside the castle.
While it still bears many of its noble glory, owner Christina Ong sought for a softer change. Enlisting the help of Milanese designer Paola Navone, Castello Del Nero now beams with a refreshed look and progressive hints of modernity. Ong fervently states her deep affection for the Italian aesthetics, and the renovation attempt was made without losing any of the castle’s historic textures.
There is beauty in simplicity, and this is reflected in Navone’s work, who overcame the challenge of redesigning the historically revered hotel within a winter hiatus of 74 days. Heavy brocade drapes, extravagant chandeliers, four-poster beds, and the moody colour palette was removed in place of a cooler grey scheme, a splash of sienna, and an illuminating white that mirrors the lofty ceiling of the chapel. The atmosphere lightened up, the rooms breathe with more space, and Castello Del Nero is redefined with a breezier transformation.
It wasn’t the only thing that changed. The Michelin-starred wonder La Tore is moved to the garden terrace in summer, as opposed to its original stable location. Executive Chef Giovanni Luca Di Pirro still oversees the cuisine, showcasing true Italian flavours from organic Tuscan produce gathered from the estate’s gardens. With its own olive groves, vineyard and even beehives for a collection of honey, the restaurant thrive with its “farm to table” approach, and one can only be well-fed within its quarters.
Summer means fresh new experiences in Castello Del Nero, where two new informal restaurants, La Taverna and Pavilion, open to serve Tuscan and Mediterranean cuisines respectively. Homegrown mixologists give new twists to martinis and Proseccos, all served in the dated wine cellar that radiates with the mansion’s old-world atmosphere.
Castello Del Nero retains its wellness indulgences, from a heated outdoor swimming pool to its exclusive Shambhala Retreat which offers morning yoga, spa, and therapeutic massages. Its bucket list of daring adventures, such as hot air ballooning, horse riding, and safari wine tours, are among its most beloved activities during the summer season. www.comohotels.com ◼
© This article was first published online in Aug 2019 – World Travel Magazine.