Vittoria Ferragamo and I are cantering down a grassy private airstrip on horseback at her family’s wine estate and hotel, Il Borro resort, in Tuscany. The golden September sunshine is warm on our faces, our horses manes blowing in a light wind.
“I think Pinky wants to race,” she says, turning slightly in the saddle to look at me.
“Let’s go then,” I respond and loosen my pony Sheila’s reins, letting her slide easily into a gallop. Soon the two horses are neck-in-neck in a full out sprint.
“I’m pretty sure Pinky has never run that fast. She’s usually pretty slow but she was really feeling competitive today,” Vittoria says with a laugh when we finally pull to a stop at the edge of the field.
This idyllic horseback riding excursion is part of my week-long stay at the resort, a luxury property owned by the son and grandchildren of the late fashion designer Salvatore Ferragamo. The family recently opened a new property, Viesca. Once the family’s country home, Viesca has been transformed into a collection of country luxe villas that opened just before the pandemic. Here’s everything you need to know about it before planning your stay.
A property with history
Ferruccio Ferragamo purchased Il Borro from an Italian prince in 1993. At the time the 2,700-acre estate about 30 minutes outside Florence had only one vineyard on the grounds. It also contained a 13thc century medieval village that once belonged to the de Medici family but was in desperate need of repairs.
In the last 20 years, the Ferragamo family transformed the property into a luxury relais & chateau hotel, a sustainable organic farm and a thriving vineyard. The medieval village has been meticulously restored and now is home to 38 suites. There is also a palatial pink, 10 bedroom villa, built around 1854, that can be rented in its entirety. Two restaurants, swimming pools, a wine cellar, spa and equestrian center are also on the grounds.
Locally sourced food and drinks
After our ride, Vittoria and I head over to Il Borro’s Tuscan Bistro, one of two restaurants on estate grounds, for lunch and a chat about the family business, a sustainable hotel, winery, and farm, where all the food prepared in the kitchen is locally sourced if not grown on property.
“All the produce which is farmed on the estate is available in our restaurants,” she explains. “So here at Il Borro we produce wine, extra virgin olive oil, chicken, eggs, beef. We have honey from local bees and we have just started producing our own flour from ancient wheat for bread, pasta and pastries. We even have a wheat beer we make on [the] property.”
All the ingredients used at the Tuscan Bistro and the more formal Osteria del Borro are seasonal and procured around Tuscany. Chef Andrea Campani then turns the raw material into traditional Tuscan dishes that change with availability. Campani uses a large tailor-made traditional oven for his grilled dishes that he says takes him back to his roots by cooking over a wood fire.
The local element pertains to beverages as well. Along with Il Borro wines, both restaurants only serve alcohol produced in Tuscany. This includes the above-mentioned beer and craft spirits; local gins are especially worth sampling.
A carbon negative footprint
Il Borro resort also has a negative carbon footprint, something that Vittoria and her older brother Salvatore, who is the CEO of Il Borro and who oversees the wine operations, are equally proud of.
“Living on a farm like this you actually experience the impact of climate change very much first hand. You see how it impacts the projects you are working on and this has motivated me. It is no longer a theoretical thing, you are living with climate change day to day,” Salvatore tells me over glasses of wine later that afternoon.
“Now at Il Borro we are entirely powered by solar,” he continues. “We actually produce three times as much energy as we consume, which qualifies us as a negative carbon footprint estate.”
Taste Il Borro wines
Besides sustainability, the Ferragamos are also passionate about wine. Il Borro produces 150,000 bottles of wine each year on 222 acres. Guests can tour the vineyards, where they’ll find the drier Sangiovese grapes placed higher on the hills, the cabernet and syrah placed closer to the Arno river and the merlot at the bottom of the valley where the ground has more clay.
“We also believe in using the old methods for how some of our wines are made. So we have wines that are made in clay pot containers and not steel or oak barrels,” Salvatore says. “They are aged in the containers for a year and then bottled. It’s really quite unique and goes back to the origins of wine.”
Il Borro wines truly are creative and flavorful. The Bolle di Borro, a sparkling rosé made from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes, is exceptional. Only 5,000 bottles are produced globally each year so it is quite a limited release and a treat to drink. A tour of the wine cellars followed by a tasting of three of the estates most coveted wines is another worthwhile experience.
How to get to Villa Il Borro in Tuscany
Il Borro is located in the Tuscan countryside about 30 minutes from Florence. Coming from the US you will likely fly via Rome. From here it is just under 3 hours by car to Il Borro and Viesca. You can also fly into the Florence airport. From either airport, you will have to arrange a private transfer with Benarrivati travel services or drive yourself in a rental car.
Trains also run from Rome Termini to Arezzo. The journey takes around 3 hours. From Arezzo you will need to take a taxi or arrange a transfer to get to Il Borro.