Long before Italy’s Unification, long before the Risorgimento, long before even the Renaissance made these hills one of the most important cultural destinations in the world, the Castello di Reschio guarded the Umbrian-Tuscan borderlands. But Reschio’s lands have sheltered people since antiquity. Once, this ancient countryside belonged to the Etruscans, whose civilisation stretched across what is now modern-day Tuscany and western Umbria. By the 1st Century BC, the Etruscans had fallen to Rome, but they had left their mark at Reschio in the form of a beautiful little figurine discovered in 1994.
The first mention of a fortified borgo at Reschio is to be found in the early Middle Ages where records reveal a fortress named Resco in the ownership of the Marchese del Monte. During the 14th and 15th Century the Estate changed hands many times between various families until, in the 1450s, it had its walls razed by the Governor of Perugia after armed conflict struck the region.
By the late 15th Century Reschio was in its heyday as part of the Papal States and the estate lands with it. Under the stewardship of Angelus Cesi, the Bishop of Todi, who used the Castello as his summer residency, the estate thrived. It is Cesi’s coat of arms that can still be found above the great gates of the Castello and which the Estate maintains today.
After the Bishop bequeathed the estate to his nephew in 1601, Reschio disappears from the records. For centuries it slumbered in the peaceful backwaters of history, amongst its tranquil, wooded hills. By the mid-twentieth century, rural life of Umbria began to fail. The tobacco farming which dominated the region’s economy suffered and Reschio’s lands soon became a semi-wilderness, it farmhouses derelict. It was in 1994 that Count Antonio Bolza bought the estate and set about restoring and regenerating the land and its buildings into the thriving estate it is today.
Count and Countess Antonio Bolza fell in love with what was in 1994 a largely abandoned estate. Under their initial stewardship Reschio became a thriving working family estate with their renowned pureblood Andalusian stud at its heart.
Running the estate and directing of architecture and design has long been in the hands of Antonio’s architect son, Benedikt, who lives on the estate with his wife, Nencia, and their five children.
For decades the Reschio lands lay overgrown and abandoned. Under the Bolzas’ stewardship, native flora and fauna have flourished and nightingales and butterflies have returned in great numbers.
One of the many joys of Reschio is watching the land transform with the seasons. In the spring the pastures erupt into a riot of colour as meadows of poppies burst into flower. In the summer, long peaceful days are framed by pristine blue skies and filled with the smell of lavender and the sound of crickets and cicadas.
In autumn the great woodlands, home to wild boar, porcupine, hare and partridge, are ablaze with yellow and orange as the oak forests change their leaves. This is the most fruitful season at Reschio when truffles, porcini, juniper berries, sloes, olives and grapes are harvested from the land. As autumn moves into winter, Reschio is transformed, once more, into a wild mountain retreat of log fires and long walks in the rolling hills.
Benedikt, who heads the restoration work, is an award-winning London-trained architect who in 2010 was named by Architectural Digest as ‘one of the top 100 architects currently working in architecture and design”.
Over the years he has gathered together a team of artisans, builders, blacksmiths and carpenters whose work is some of the finest in the whole of Italy. Mosaic-work, ornamental bricklaying, iron- and copper-working, joinery, tile making, masonry, stuccowork, furniture-making and glassblowing all an essential part of the rich artistic heritage of this country.
Reschio sits in one of the world’s most important artistic regions and the rich heritage of Umbria and Tuscany is found throughout the estate from the ancient carvings and medieval frescoes that have been discovered here during restoration-work, to the beautiful Etruscan bronze figurine unearthed in one of Reschio’s olive groves.
The estate has also recently served as inspiration for artist Nic Fiddian-Green, one of the most important sculptors working in Britain today, whose Horse at Water stands 35ft tall at London’s Marble Arch. After a chance meeting with Count Antonio in London, he came to Reschio and made a life-size bust of one of the stud’s Andalusian stallions, Punto. The design has since been enlarged to stand at Wellington College.
Behind a charming place there is always a great history…