It’s not easy for a resort to stand out in Tuscany, where everything is superlative: wines are full-bodied, food is rich and abundant, buildings are architectural marvels, and the countryside is picture-perfect.
Yet COMO Castello Del Nero is the jewel in the crown, occupying a dazzling twelfth-century castle set amid 740 acres of vineyards and olive groves in Italy’s renowned Chianti wine region.
With rooms featuring Renaissance frescoes, a setting boasting postcard-worthy views of rolling hills, a Michelin-starred restaurant and an exceptional spa offering, a visit here showcases the very best of la bella vita.
COMO Castello Del Nero occupies the former home of the del Nero family in the 12th century and the Torrigiani family in the 19th century. The modern-day refurbishment of the resort’s 50 rooms and suites is every bit as befitting of aristocratic guests, blending traditional luxury – marble baths, Renaissance frescoes, panoramic views of the unspoilt countryside – with a light, pared-back aesthetic: micro cement walls, exposed beams, and crisp cotton sheets.
The grandeur extends outside: an imposing tree-lined drive takes you up to the castle grounds, which overlook endless rows of vineyards, olive groves and sunflower fields. Perfectly manicured gardens of lavender and herbs (which are used in the restaurants’ dishes) are set against traditional fountains and an expansive outdoor pool. In the evening, while sipping a Spritz on the fragrant, white-hued terrace, guests witness the rose-tinted sky transform into star-studded darkness, beautifully complemented with the soft uplighting of the commanding castle.
The COMO brand is internationally renowned for its wellness offering and its Tuscan Shambhala Retreat outpost does not disappoint. The signature Shambala massage was a blissfully relaxing treatment, with consciously calibrated strokes leading me into a profound relaxation on a level I’ve not experienced in years. The treatment concluded with a pot of COMO’s signature ginger tea, which tastes like being cocooned in a hug from the inside out – I would go back again and again just to revisit its soothing warmness.
Equally noteworthy is the fitness area, which has quite possibly the best view of any gym I’ve ever worked out in, and also boasts a dedicated reformer pilates studio and yoga room (twice-daily yoga and mat pilates classes are complimentary for resort guests). For those who prefer to take their exercise in the great outdoors, various well-signposted hiking trails have been designed to showcase the surrounding vineyards, olive groves, lakes and forests – as well as a forest gym, outdoor swimming pool, two tennis courts, and bikes available to hire if you want to explore further afield.
Tuscany is a region renowned for its cuisine – and dining at COMO Castello del Nero showcases local flavours so remarkably that the hotel has been awarded a Michelin star for its restaurant La Torre. Whilst main courses featuring flavours such as local truffle and chianina agnolotti and Casentino lamb with chamomile are sensational, the desserts are next level: a platter of chocolates with exquisite flavour pairings preceded a plate of delightful pasticcini; and if that wasn’t enough, for the grand finale waiters bring a giant box of macarons to your table for you to take your pick (spoiler alert: you’ll have to try them all).
More casual dining is no less impressive: want a pizza? A dedicated pizza chef from Naples tends to the wood-fired oven, topping his secret recipe dough with tomatoes grown in the gardens and creamy burrata. Or for those looking for something lighter, a simple salad? The traditional Tuscan panzanella is prepared with oil from the hotel’s own olive groves, and topped with red prawns. Breakfast (included in the room rate) is an abundant spread of exotic fruits, local meats and cheeses and traditional Italian pastries, complemented with an extensive a la carte offering of dishes such as prosciutto cotto omelettes and nut and seed toast topped with home-grown greens from the garden.
The surrounding area
Despite feeling like it is situated deep in the Tuscan countryside, COMO Castello Del Nero is the perfect base for exploring Tuscany: the hotel offers shuttle services to Florence and Siena, located 30 and 40 minutes’ drive away respectively. A visit to the Duomo di Firenze and the Galleria dell’Accademia (which houses Michelangelo’s David, among other famous sculptures) is a must, though you might be in need of another relaxing massage in the spa to offset the impact of the crowds in contrast to the hotel’s secluded serenity.
A more laid-back experience can be had in the local village of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa: a 15-minute walk takes you to its pavement cafes, perfect for people watching over gelato or a Spritz. In the summer months the area comes alive on Tuesday evenings when restaurants roll out huge tables overlooking the main square, various merchants sell jewellery and antiques, and there are live music performances.
COMO Castello Del Nero is located in Chianti, a 35-minute drive from Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (FLR) airport.
How to book
An overnight stay costs from £494, including breakfast. To book, visit www.comohotels.com/castellodelnero
words by Rosie Sargeant
READ MORE: H&H Reviews: Daios Cove, Crete