Castiglion del Bosco - The Brunello King
Good For: Come one, come all. This is the place to vacation for couples, families, groups, and solo travelers.
The Highlights: Gorgeous, huge accommodation – and lots to do on the property, including cooking classes, wine-tasting, golf, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Easy day trips to Siena, Montalcino, and San Gimignano. About an hour and a half to Florence.
What to Know: Off-site restaurants will give you the best experiences in Tuscan cuisine. Il Leccio in Sant Angelo in Colle near Montalcino is not to be missed. Also, we recommend renting a car or driver to take you vineyard-hopping through Montalcino, the home of Brunello.
King of the Castle
The search is over for your “life is good” moment. At Castiglion del Bosco, not only are you king of the castle, but you’re in James Cameron territory as king of the world. And it’s not just the Brunello talking. Though you will find those bottles whispering many sweet nothings in your ear. Castiglion del Bosco is more than a pretty face. It’s one of the top five producers of Brunello, so expect to have an IV drip of wine during your stay. We have two words for you: Tasting room. Who knew Brunello could be the breakfast of champions? Hey, don’t judge. It’s noon somewhere in the world.
Here, you’re rolling in the deep – deep luxury, that is. Castiglion del Bosco is the country estate that your very rich fantasy aunt and uncle own. Located in the heart of Brunello country, they’ve taken some vineyard land and transformed it into a not-so-modest 18-hole golf course that even Tiger would play. For those without golf club-wielding Swedish ex-wives, some things do last forever. Like the infinity pool overlooking the Tuscan hills. This qualifies as soaking in the culture – or so you can tell yourself as you knock back bottles of Brunello by the pool.
Beyond visions of sugarplums, your fat suite is even better than those dreams. And it’s certainly more plush than how the other 99 percent lives. The décor is Tuscan estate, and suites are sized as apartments. You will literally sink into your living room couch, and sleep better than nobility in your beyond comfortable bed. You’ll be tempted never to leave the room but for the fact that the rest of the property is so beautiful. Do plan to cater in one evening from the local cheese and food shops, along with bottles of Brunello, for imbibing on the terrace late into the night.
Even if you’re not religious, you’ll find religion in food at the Canonica, an old priest’s house on the property that was converted to a cooking school. Hello professional-grade kitchen. Because when you’re in Italy, you’re inspired to create an Italian feast. Farm-to-table means going to the organic garden, and bringing in fresh ingredients. Whether you aspire to be Top Chef, or just want to learn to boil water for pasta, these guys will teach you skills.
Under the Tuscan Sun
While Castiglion del Bosco is over the top, what’s important is that baby, you’re in Tuscany. Siena, San Gimignano, and Montalcino are all easy day trips. A visit to Siena isn’t complete unless you stop by De Miccoli. You know you’re in the right place when you see the boar’s head outside the shop. Get ready, as this inauspicious shop will probably be the most expensive 45 minutes of your trip. Sit back and allow the shopkeeper to ply you with samples of 1997 Vigorello Brunello di Montalcino, aged parmesan, homemade biscotti, and specialty meats. You know they’ve stuck the fork in you when the Vin Santo dessert wine starts coming out. This is the perfect place to pick up food for your night in back at the old castle homestead.
San Gimignano is a smaller Tuscan town, where you should buy your souvenirs, like handmade linens and wine at prices that are a little easier on the pocket. As for Montalcino, it’s all about the wine. Fortezza, besides being the town’s castle and fort, has local artwork and regional wines. Prices are marked-up, but you’re paying for the convenience of getting everything in one place. There’s no science to gaining access to the large vineyards; have the concierge make you an appointment and you’re in. But if you really want to experience Montalcino, your VIP access to cult vineyards is through the Tuscan Auteur, who will have you tasting a 96-Parker-rated Stella di Campalto. Also, you’ll pay a visit to Colleoni, which is run by one of the true gentlemen of winemaking. Check out our interview with Lauren here.
Dinners in Montalcino are a gastronomic affair, whether in a small candlelit trattoria or a grand gourmet restaurant. Standouts in the area include Il Leccio in Sant Angelo in Colle, a seasonal, low-key restaurant that’s often booked up. Everything on the menu is a winner, from the explosion of cheese ravioli to anything with porcini mushrooms when in season. For high-end dining, do as the locals and head to Ristorante di Poggio Antico, which is attached to the vineyard of the same name. New on the scene this year is L’Abbazia at Castello di Velona, where you can take in one of the best views in all of Montalcino of the surrounding countryside. This is where you’ll really feel like you’re in Tuscany, the land of the worry-free, the brave who hunt truffles, and the two-pastas-a-day-and-a-bottle-of-Brunello diet. It’s good to be king.