The vintage VW beetle came rolling over the hill, driven by a trim man in a three-piece suit and a straw hat. “Good evening,” he said as he rolled to a stop. “Are you enjoying your walk? I’m Antonio, the owner here.”
My husband and I had arrived, a few hours earlier, at Reschio, the 3,700-acre property home to several dozen renovated villas and a millennium-old castle that, as of May, has been converted into a hotel: Castello di Reschio. We were huffing up the gravelly path, feeling as though we had been dropped into a Perugino landscape, surrounded by olive trees, sun-bleached fields, and a carpet of green tobacco plants nestled below in the Niccone valley below, a slip of land where Tuscany meets Umbria. We assured Antonio: We were thoroughly enjoying ourselves. He nodded, said he would see us later, and went on his way. Minutes later, a spandex-clad bicyclist surged up the hill, C + C Music Factory pumping from the speaker attached to his handlebars.
Old meets new at Reschio, a place where you can feel the heft of centuries in the solid stone ramparts and brush up against the most up-to-the-minute modern comforts. “I am always trying to go backward,” says Benedikt Bolza, the force behind it all, the following day, “to find that old-world glamor of a time gone by.” Benedikt, formally Count Bolza (the title is from his Austro-Hungarian lineage), is Antonio’s son. He grew up on the property, and served as the hotel’s architect. His parents bought a tiny parcel of property within the larger Reschio estate in the 1980s, and each year they would petition the family that owned the castle (and the surrounding thousands of acres) for a little more land. Finally, a deal was struck: the Bolzas would buy the whole lot. Quite quickly the family found themselves the owners of thousands of acres of farmland, 50 crumbling farmhouses, a tobacco warehouse, and the castle.