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Beauty In the Detail

Umbria, Italy

Set against the Umbrian hills and looking down towards the Tuscan border lies Hotel Castello di Reschio, a 1000-year-old castle transformed into a one-of-a-kind hotel by architect and designer, Count Benedikt Bolza and artist, Donna Nencia Corsini

Part of the 3750-acre Reschio Estate, the Castello di Reschio is the latest undertaking by the husband-and-wife duo, who have dedicated themselves over the last three decades to slowly conserving and restoring the surrounding woodland, fields, and historic farmhouse ruins.

Count Benedikt’s father, Count Antonio Bolza, bought the Reschio Estate in 1994 and the family have called it home since. At the time, the hills of the estate were abandoned and the houses overgrown. “There was absolutely no infrastructure, but you know, the estate was so wild and beautiful,” says Bolza. “When man gets out of the way [of nature], it tends to get better; we tend to make a mess of things.” Revitalising the estate with a conscientious eye to its role as part of a larger ecosystem has been central to the family’s vision for the property.

It’s this reverence for nature and the decades invested in restoring the estate’s crumbling farmhouses while the family lived in the original castello – leaky roof and all – that have honed their vision. “Living there meant really understanding the building and loving it and feeling very connected to it as if we had been there for much longer. I didn’t want to make a modern statement; I wanted to keep it quite organic and mixed and feeling like somebody’s house – a home rather than like a hotel,” Bolza explains.

One has a sense of the Bolza family’s connection throughout the castle. Each room takes inspiration from either a member of the family or a person from the castello’s history. One of the suites features an altar in a nod to a Corsini pope, Pope Clement XII, who would have stayed at the castle in the 18th century. Bolza consciously designed the rooms to take advantage of the full width of the castle and benefit from two exposures. Each suite has views onto the Umbrian hills and castle courtyard, creating a “feeling of peace and space.” To enable such grand proportions and a timeless sense of place, modern systems for heating and cooling were incorporated underground, which was no small feat.

“If you are on top of the tower, you can look at roof level and not see a single modern element,” says Bolza. “There’s not a single air conditioning vent or anything that reminds you of today and you can also walk around the entire castle and not see or hear anything because it’s all one level further down,” he explains.

The pair have curated a refined layering of textures throughout the hotel – antique pieces mixed with bespoke lighting and furnishings that were designed by Bolza and created by local carpenters, blacksmiths, and stonemasons. Bolza’s custom Poggibonsi lamps, with rich velvet or faux vellum shades sit in each of the hotel’s 36 rooms alongside bespoke four-poster Campaign beds.

Each bathroom features a singular piece: a washstand carved from a solid block of Carrara marble. The original terracotta tile floors have been retained and the walls subtly restored with locally-made lime plaster. “Nencia is a tempera artist and fresco painter so she knows the techniques; we made our own colours with pigments and lime,” explains Bolza.

The rooms feature elegant dressing tables locally crafted using beech, Bardiglio Carrara marble and brass – echoing grand houses of an earlier era. Every element of the interiors feels considered, down to the stainless steel coffee machine, with its compostable single-serve pods. Unable to find a sustainable option commercially, Bolza partnered with a local coffee purveyor to innovate a scaled-down version of a professional machine complete with paper-wrapped coffee pods.

The family’s obsession with detail is evident beyond the rooms. Originally a fortification, “it wasn’t a castle that received guests. It was rather for keeping people out,” Benedikt explains. So for a reception area he devised the glass-enclosed Palm Court, a continuation of the outdoor courtyard. Here, guests are received under towering palms and Poggibonsi lamps and high-backed wing chairs that have been adapted to the proportions of the space.

The hotel’s Bathhouse resides within the castle’s former wine cellar. The Roman saltwater pool, tepidarium and highly tailored, holistic treatments–dry brushing with botanical tonics, feel absolutely unique to Reschio and reflect Donna Nencia’s passion for all-natural, local products and the wild botanicals she often forages on the estate.

The hotel’s swimming pool is incorporated into the Umbrian landscape just outside the Castello walls. Seating has been thoughtfully arranged on a deck and in semi-secluded areas among the rosemary plantings and umbrella pines.

As the estate and hotel continue to evolve over time, it’s clear the Bolza family are invested for the benefit of future generations. Organic farming has been introduced using biodynamic methods and the hotel’s two restaurants are supplied with its organic vegetables. But Bolza continues to look to the future: “There’s so much to build here and I feel like we’re very much at the beginning.”