WORDS
REPORTING
TAG
BROWSING
SHARE
Facebook
WhatsApp
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Twitter

Il Borro, Valdarno. The rocky ridges of Chianti

The ancient hamlet is all that remains of a castle on an outcrop. The only way up is a stone bridge that winds up the slope

Il Borro albergo diffuso estate in Valdarno, Tuscany

The fief was settled a century after the Year One Thousand, in this broken land scattered with rocky spurs, the famous Tuscan balze, or ridges, corners of earth that are the edges of bluffs, covered with woods. Borro means the bed of an ancient river whose banks are sheer drops. The family that owned these lands adopted the word as its surname.

The Borro lineage ended in the late eighteenth century and the estate became the property of the Grand Duchy. Marriages then took it into the hands of the Hohenlohe-Waldenburg in the nineteenth century. Later, it was divided among the Savoy Aosta cadet branches. World War Two left its own traces.

In 1993, Ferruccio Ferragamo bought these seven-hundred hectares of land south of Florence and brought them back to life, with vineyards and olive groves, fields and hills. He acquired them from the dominion of the Duke of Aosta, whose wife Claudia of Orléans still lives in this area.

The plain is broken up like a cracked slab of marble, with jagged gorges that slide into the depths of the earth. The bedrock is sandstone, or pietraforte, on a sandy, clayey terrain that is poor yet ideal for Tuscan vines. The impression it gives is geometric. One layer on top of another, streams and canals running through them. All rushing towards a watercourse that is none other than the River Arno itself.

The metal fences are there to keep out the wild boars. While the wolves live in the mountains, and are only a hazard for the sheep, in the same way that the foxes are for the hens. The pheasants reproduce unrestrainedly here, in their very own paradise. There are grass and whip snakes, and the odd viper too, but only in the long grass. The horses’ bodies are too high up off the ground and the viper’s poison does not affect them.

The best visits to the Borro estate take place on horseback. In the stables, Elisa looks after some forty animals that include thoroughbreds and long-haired Irish Cobs. A foal had been born two days earlier. The mare flattening her ears furiously if anyone dared approach, and Elisa had to administer drops for conjunctivitis.

The colts can stay in the same paddock until they are eighteen months old. Then, they risk hurting each other by fighting. The draft horses are much bigger. If you type Horse Riding Tuscany into Google from anywhere in the world, Il Borro pops up. SEM strategy helps perhaps, but this supremacy is organic and well deserved.

700 hectares of land in south of Florence

Lampoon review: commodities at Il Borro

The ancient hamlet is perhaps all that remains of a castle built on one of the steepest outcrops in this area. The only way up is a stone bridge that winds up the slope and then joins the street leading to the peasants’ houses. In this albergo diffuso or scattered hotel each room today has a different size, some bigger and some too small.

The furnishings embody the philosophy of this location. Making you feel as if you belong and are not just passing through. The fire is lit in the evenings. But an improvement of the hot air heating could take place, as it makes the rooms dry. In the winter, humidifiers and hot water bottles slid into beds as the latest idea may be a solution. The turndown service did not seem guaranteed. Maybe it was only on request, but we didn’t investigate.

Opposite the hamlet stands the manor house, for a single guest and off limits to visitors when occupied. While on the left, a living area opens out, for lunch into the afternoon through to evening. The spa could be an option. But simply heating the outdoor infinity pool seen through the windows of the lounge and the gym would quite suffice.

Clients can also rent old farmhouses here and there. Their restoration created zero-energy buildings that use renewable sources. Salvatore Ferragamo – son of Ferruccio and heir to the founder of the shoe company – manages the estate. A description of this place has absolutely no need of adjectives – despite the management’s presentation material choosing to make abundant use of them.

A farm that since 2015 has been totally organic and eco-sustainable with its forty-five hectares of vineyards and forty of olive groves, plus forage fields and vegetable crops. Then there are bees, with thirty hives and two-hundred free-range hens.

Vittoria Ferragamo, the youngest daughter, manages the organic produce, found in a cuisine that promotes all the flavors of this soil and enhances travels in Italy. Artichokes, salad leaves with throat-tickling local oil, zolfini beans, again local, like the chickpeas. The bistro on the edge of the wood and the starred restaurant are both, however, slightly impersonal.

The new wine cellar built in 2000

Borrigiano – Tuscan wine production 

Production of wine in Tuscany is a subject dating back to the start of the eighteenth century and something Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, intended to structure. He divided the Chianti countryside into four sectors: central Chianti, Carmignano, Pomio and upper Val d’Arno. The latter is Borro, whose DOC appellation was recognised in 2011.

Borrigiano is the wine produced in Borro. In Italian, its name stems from the word for gorge or crevasse. No pesticides or chemical fertilisers. Pruning during the waning moon to respect the plant’s sap, the creation of ecosystems that include insects, fungus and antagonist bacteria. Rows of vines alternating with grassy species after harvesting to enrich the humus.

The new wine cellar was built in 2000. Plans included an underground corridor that then connected it to an old medieval cellar. About two-hundred meters into the cave you can feel the depth in the earth and the rock and how the temperature drops. The vaulted walls house the barrels.

One wine, the Petruna, is vinified in amphorae for a year. The bottle dedicated to Alessandro dal Borro – a condottiero against the Turks in the first half of the seventeenth century – has an elaborate label stuck to its prominent belly. Irony in wine, a bottle of red dedicated to Alessandro is worth hundreds of euros. Cold-pressed Syrah grapes, fermented in French oak.

Il Borro also houses the owner’s art collection. This estate belongs to the Ferragamo family. Rooms adjacent to the wine cellar host it. Martina Becattini – who also curates the Stilbert Museum in Florence – develops and edits its themes and tales. Bacchus and Venus are the protagonists of the display during our visit and throughout this summer part. In other words, the constant theme of wine focuses on the female figure.

Etchings, charcoal and more, by maestros who – again without any need for adjectives – soothe the earthly experience and reinforce hope. From Tiepolo to Chagall, Manet, Picasso, Warhol, Canaletto and Tissot through to Vik Muniz.

Il Borro

Località Borro, 1, 52024 Loro Ciuffenna AR
Il Borro, which is part of the Relais & Châteaux global fellowship, offers various types of accommodation. From typical Tuscan villas to distinctive suites located within the medieval village and the Aie del Borro. The offer includes also a range of locations for Il Borro Tuscan Bistro restaurant, twice in Valdarno, Florence, Dubai and the new opening in London.

Matteo Mammoli

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

SHARE
Facebook
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Email
WhatsApp
Twitter