— Your family has lived in the castle since the 1750s. Please tell us a bit about the history of the estate.
Stefania: “After being a watch tower from the 1300s to 1700s, due to battles between the Vatican State and feudal landlords, a cardinal came to live here after the place was shut as a convent that had only eight nuns left! A passionate art collector, he added the facade to host his precious painting collection — transforming the original square plan of the watch tower into a T-shaped palazzo. With no more battles to fight, the estate was transformed to a gentile country residence.
At the cardinal‘s death, the property was taken over by our ancestors who were the biggest land owners of the province. In the late 1800s, our forefather thought that having a garden was even more original as a status symbol than a car: land to relax in rather than to work on. He therefore called the famous German botanist and landscape gardener Ludwig Winter who was working in Liguria, designing the very well-known gardens, today owned by the Government, of Villa Hanbury, La Mortola and Il Vallone del Sasso.”
— View of the villa
— What was the inspiration to turn your family home into a boutique hotel?
Stefania: “Properties in Italy are always split between the siblings. In our case the vineyards, farms and wine cellar went to my mother’s brother whilst the historic estate came to her. In the 1990s my mother realized the importance to keep these kinds of estates for future generations: to transmit values and memories of past generations. She hence created with some friends an association called „Le Marche Segrete“. A network of itineraries linking historic homes and gardens to towns, cities and public monuments in the Marche Region. So it became very natural to open our home to visitors. We hosted special groups like the Smithsonian Institute, University of Oxford, and so on.
We realized that only by opening the doors of the property to the public we could make it live and prosper. At the same time it would help future generations appreciate and understand more culture, nature and art. We wanted to create a virtuous circle to safeguard culture in all its different forms.”
— Please tell us a bit about the facilities, the different rooms and of course the bioenergetic areas in your beautiful historic gardens!
Stefania: “The bioenergetic areas are the heart of the estate. It took a friend — eco designer Marco Nieri — two years of research to find them and work is still in progress. They are based on the concept of electromagnetisms produced by plants that influence the human body. Each area benefits our internal organs positively. Guests can walk, sit, rest, read a book or meditate in these areas and it all affects positively their bodies.
In our restaurant, we now have two young local chefs, Davide and Davide, who are passionate about food and ancient recipes. They learned them from their grannies and improved them with a modern twist to suit our contemporary lifestyles.
The wellness area offers a few simple but healthy body and facial treatments. Natural elements such as honey, milk, chocolate and herbs are used to de-stress the body and mind.
Each of the 11 suites is different in colours, size and antique family furnishings. They all have beautiful views of the estate and of our precious trees.”
— What would you describe to be the atmosphere, your philosophy?
Stefania: “It’s a family atmosphere, as if you were at a friend’s home! At the same time, we are custodians and curators of ancient memories and values. Our aim is to make people understand the preciousness of nature and gentle living through the experience of a stay at the Borgo. But, the estate is not an experience in its self, we see it as a starting point for a discovery of the territory and its hidden treasures.
I think it should be a sensorial experience: you can appreciate our local foods only if you visit the altar piece by Crivelli in the Cathedral of Ascoli; you can truly enjoy the beautiful hilly landscapes only if you taste the wines from the old farmer’s cellars, or you can really go crazy for the “caciotta” cheese if you walk in the Sibillini Mountains…
It is hence not only about historic homes, art, food and wine but about a lifestyle close to simple, beautiful and genuine things. A kind of “Cultural - Slow - Time” concept that can change the way people live their daily lives.”
— The interior is furnished with antiques from your family. Please tell us a bit more about the rooms and how would you describe the style of the interior?
Stefania: “Each room is furnished with different époque furnishings from our families treasures. We had ancestors that collected English furniture, others that loved the French style, some who brought with them their favourite pieces from Sicily, there is a real eclectic mix of bits and pieces, some important and some just simply interesting and fun.
Having only 11 suites allowed us to create harmonious compositions both in the rooms and communal spaces through the choice of furniture, wall paper, paint and objects. For example, the “Winter” suite is dedicated to Ludwig Winter, who slept here whilst creating the garden. The “Gigli” suite is dedicated to the Tenor Beniamino Gigli, great friend of my grandparents, the “Orientale “ suite is full of objects collected by my ancestors and mother’s travels in Asia, and so on.
Everything in the estate reflects our passions for beauty, art and culture. Nothing is left unseen but all is highlighted with grace and great care, just like a family home.”
— Living room
— To you personally, what is so special about the estate?
Stefania: “The garden is the heart and soul. It’s ancient trees that now cast huge shadows on the lawns, the flowers that bloom at different times of year, the squirrels and birds just make this place so lovely and warm.
And we must not forget the importance of our staff. Some have been working with us for the past 20 years. We are really a big family. We strongly believe that people make a difference. Our staff helps guests understand the estate and territory, through their kindness, attention and special suggestions for a unique and relaxing stay.
The difference is also made by my parents. My mother Giulia, who curates both the interior and gardens with great passion and knowledge, inspired us to work hard and look after this “living monument”, to understand its greatness and charm and transmit its history to others. My father Mario, who is an architect, looked after this estate for the past 50 years restoring it bit by bit with great love and care, accentuating its beauty with great respect.”