The terrace at the Nipozzano Castle presents a romantic option to enjoy al fresco meals, cocktails and candle-lit dinners.
Frescobaldi, the 700-year-old Tuscan winery, has wonderful castles on its estates of Pomino and Nipozzano in the enchanting Chianti Rufina region, about an hour from Florence by car. We stayed in both the castles, and that raises the burning question — which of them did we like the best? The answer is simple. There is no best, as each has its own fascinating history, unique charm and, of course, outstanding wines.
Our first stop was Pomino Castle. We drove 2,300 feet up vine-clad hills covered with forests of chestnut and fir trees to reach the former abode of Marquise Leonia degli Albizzi, who, in 1863, married a Frescobaldi, and brought this elegant mansion as part of her dowry. We were greeted by the communications manager, Luisa Calvo, who made us feel at home with a flûte of chilled Leonia, a shimmering Brut introduced by the winery in 2011, and named after the 19th-century marquise.
Pictured: Nipozzano built in the year 1000, offers scenic views of the vineyards.
Luxury travel advisors can reach out to Public Relations Manager Giacomo Fani ([email protected]; [email protected]; 011-390-552-714-202) for assistance with booking guestrooms and advice on activities at Pomino and Nipozzano.
“We love to customize stays here, especially for guests who are coming for the first time,” says Giacomo. “They may be living in a medieval castle, but we know how to make them feel at home. Many of our guests are wine buffs, while others want to discover the beauty of Tuscany, and then there are those who just want to get away from it all. We always make the experience highly personalized, preferring not to mix people and just allowing them to enjoy their own space.”
Pomino’s four bedrooms, with double or twin beds, have the typical heritage features of a 16th-century patrician mansion. Ours was a charming room with old wooden beams on the ceiling, antique furnishings and a flagstone floor. All bedrooms have modern en-suite bathrooms and, although we did not need it in June, there is central heating. Top Pick: The bedroom in the tower, a romantic hideaway for lovebirds.
Pomino Castle has the typical heritage features of a 16th-century patrician mansion.
Guests dining at the Marquis’s table discover the Frescobaldi zero-kilometer philosophy, which means that everything — from the vegetables to the extra-virgin olive oil, and from the cured to the fresh meat — served on the estates (there are five more scattered around Tuscany) is produced locally, and much of it on the estates themselves. This emphasis on excellence has been espoused by Marquis Lamberto Frescobaldi, the chairman of the group, who told us that he takes as much pleasure in the production of fine foods and opening his castles to staying guests as he does in indulging in the age-old family tradition of winemaking.
After breakfast — homemade fruit cakes, breads, jams and honey, prosciutto and salami — there was no time to relax in Pomino’s gardens or chill in the Jacuzzi as we set off for the nearby castle of Nipozzano, which was built in the year 1000. It is here, we learned from Giacomo, that Marquis Lamberto and his family like to get together to celebrate anniversaries and festivities.
Pictured: Pomino CASTLE has four bedrooms with double or twin beds.
We spent the morning in the kitchens preparing lunch with the Marquis’s charming Chef Signora Lia. In two delightful hours we learned how to prepare tortelli pasta, stuffed aubergines, tagliata beef and lemon tartlets, and discovered the family’s secret recipes. Unlike most cooking classes where the guests are given simple tasks to perform, we rolled up our sleeves and did it all from scratch, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the preparation. We then sat down for lunch, where we were served four different wines, all produced on the estate.
The Marquis and his wife, the Marquise Eleonora showed us the newly opened rooms, which were once the estate’s oil mill. The massive, old stone press is a striking feature in the master bedroom. The five guestrooms are spacious and bright and the en-suite bathrooms have unusual features like corner bathtubs and open-space wet areas. The large living room has comfortable couches, a humongous, old fireplace and a kitchenette with windows overlooking the vineyards. But the view is most spectacular from the terrace, which has a large Jacuzzi tub, and is the perfect spot to enjoy al fresco meals, cocktails and romantic candle-lit dinners.
Not to be missed: A visit to the cellars with their ordered lines of vats, where each member of the Frescobaldi family has his or her personal wines laid down the year they were born and labeled with their name. There is also a corner with racks of dusty bottles dating back to the early 1900s. We spotted some dated 1864, which means they were laid down more than 150 years ago.
Pictured: The living room at Nipozzano has an old fireplace and a kitchenette with windows overlooking the vineyards.
Apart from the cooking classes, Giacomo says there are endless other activities that keep the guests busy. He suggests day trips to Florence and other great Tuscan art cities, taking an active part in the fall grape harvesting, walking and cycling excursions around the vineyards and local villages, and wine and food tastings.
Nipozzano and Pomino are two of the six estates of Frescobaldi, the 700-year-old winery in Tuscany.
And, for an informal lunch or dinner, Frescobaldi’s rustic restaurant Il Quartino, in the nearby hamlet of Pelago, is a favorite for its burgers, bruschettas and platters of cold cuts and cheese. And you cannot go wrong with the wines.