Just 18 months ago Castello di Casalborgone was an abandoned shell of a building dating back to 999 AD, a place that had been empty for 40 years. Now after a meticulous renovation, it has been restored to its full Renaissance splendour by Gary Douglas, an American entrepreneur and antiques aficionado. Douglas has handpicked every item from all over the world, right from the $12,000 handmade bedspread from Jaipur in one of the rooms, to the 300 -year old Aubusson Tapestry on a central wall, to the Baccarat Chandeliers from Persia, and the crystal glasses used in the restaurant. He’s a lover of elegance and this renovation has brought him immense joy, a joy he now wants to share with others at his home.
“The European Renaissance was a time of artistic genius, cultural sophistication and intellectual enlightenment,” says Gary. “I want people to be able to experience the magnificence of that time, right in the heart of its birthplace - Italy.” Douglas believes that in this modern world, where everything goes a million miles a minute, we need more places like this. “This home is a space where you can get away from the madding crowd and just be absorbed by this beautiful castle, its beautiful views, historical opulence and a sense of amazing possibility.”
Re-built in the eighteenth century, the Castello di Casalborgone remained a beacon of resilience in the midst of countless noble feuds, wars and intrigue. However, for the past four decades, this proud castle nestled in the fertile countryside between Turin and Milan, stood empty. “When I visited, I realised I was in one of the most amazing places I had ever been. The location exudes kindness, gentleness, caring and silence – I knew immediately that this is a place that people should be able to see, and all I could think of was ‘How do I take this back to how it’s supposed to be, what it used to be and what it could be?” says Douglas.
Every little detail has been considered, from the most luxurious 1050 count sheets, candlestick covers (from the last Kings of Iran) to tapestries from the 1600s. Castello di Casalborgone is located approximately 20 miles (30 kilometres) from Turin and only one and a half hours from Milan. It commands breathtaking hilltop views of the quaint Casalborgone village and surrounding fields. Guests can also enjoy relaxing walks in the beautiful castle gardens.
The Castello boasts twelve boutique guest rooms and is graced with a bell tower, a grand hall, a lovingly restored historic library with books from the 1600s, a cosy bar and giant drawing room. Each space is furnished with beautiful antiques and original artworks of historical significance, making it an exquisite location for weddings and personal celebrations, art and antique exhibitions and photography shoots. The castle also offers an intimate selection of specialist classes focused on the art of living gloriously.
“The local community is so real, the older people are happy!” says Douglas. “There was one 83-year-old lady who said ‘I am so grateful you have given me a reason to live. When I was a little girl I used to ride my donkey and deliver eggs and cheese to the people who lived in the Castle’. I have met some people who are living, breathing, pieces of the history of this beautiful region.”
Douglas says the most magical thing about the whole place is the silence, one of the most peaceful places he’s ever experienced. “The one thing that doesn’t exist in many places on planet earth anymore is silence. It is something that most people who live in cities are starved of. Silence is important, as that is when the body has a sense of relaxation and peace you can’t get anywhere else. The beds are so comfortable, and peace so intoxicating, people don’t want to leave. ”
Accommodation is priced between €450 and €2000 per night.
Mr Douglas says he designed the experience for those people that truly know the pleasure of living!
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