We want to inaugurate this space by giving the floor to those who made all this possible, to Elisabetta Gnudi and Alessandra Angelini, owners of Borgo Scopeto Relais, to start this series of stories. They will talk about what made them fall in love with Borgo Scopeto, the history, the experiences and some funny anecdotes.
Enjoy the reading!
What made you fall in love with Tuscany and this territory in particular, so much so that you want to make it your home?
E.G. Tuscany represented the concept of countryside and this is what made me fall in love. I grew up in Rome, the countryside also exists in Lazio and my family had the countryside outside Bologna, but it didn't satisfy me. In Emilia are made peaches and pears, in Lazio strawberries and vegetables, I enjoyed making wine, precisely because by studying and informing myself about the activities that could be done in the countryside, wine was the most satisfying and therefore the my choice fell on that. Then my family from Bologna and Romagna, we grew up in Rome, and Tuscany fell right halfway, so it was a nice compromise. Beautiful in every sense, because then the Tuscan landscapes are those that are not for nothing those of Leonardo, of Raphael, so they certainly have that something extra that the other countryside do not have.
A.A. I found myself in Tuscany, but it is also true that I traveled the world a lot, I grew up in Rome, I also lived abroad, in the countryside in the United States, and the Italian countryside is another thing. On the other hand, they are looking for it from all over the world, it is no coincidence that the Chianti Classico hills are unique, so we find ourselves in a unique location, with a view that you can't find anywhere else in the world and therefore I must say that I fell well. I didn't choose it, I found it again, but I gladly went back.
What was the first impression when you saw Borgo Scopeto for the first time? What emotions did you feel?
E.G. The first time we saw Borgo Scopeto we were together. Well Borgo Scopeto was love at first sight. In fact, I was negotiating with another reality that was still very beautiful, in Castellina in Chianti, which is a town that I liked very much. But I find Borgo Scopeto to be a bit unique, and it is so in many respects. One, the position, according to the landscape which is very elegant, is one of the most elegant landscapes you can see in Tuscany, because it is the very essence of Chianti; woods, hills, vineyards, olive trees, the dark green colors and lighter greens of the meadows and leaves ... in short, the essence of the Tuscan countryside and Borgo Scopeto represented a dream that could be realized. Then it is very beautiful because it is full of history, it is not the banal farmhouse as there are many others around. A lot of history has passed in this place, a lot of events. And it was fun to see this place because unlike villas or castles that were owned by perhaps less wealthy people, and less wealthy families in history, which remained frozen in the historical moment in which they were made, or a few years later, in Borgo Scopeto you see an evolution that from 1000 to the present day with many passages in history. Because the owners of Borgo Scopeto have always been very rich people, and even in the past as today they liked to show who had the opportunity and the money, it was nice to show that they had the most modern and most interesting house ... and therefore in Borgo Scopeto there are all these passages: the tower of the Thousand which has some things that have remained intact, such as the prisons, the canitoia, then most of the tower is still quite intact, but then there are also elements such as the balcony of our executive suite (the 115, the one of Letters to Julliet) that were made in the twentieth century, which had nothing to do with the whole structure of Borgo Scopeto, but it is part of its history, it is something of a hundred years ago, and therefore we decided to leave it, then it is bellino, looks over Siena, but it was certainly not part of the main nucleus of Borgo Scopeto. Then there is the Marzocco, we are at the end of 1500 when Florence arrives and conquers Siena, and Borgo Scopeto was a great victory for Florence because it was the outpost right between Florence and Siena where it was signaled to the Sienese if someone came from the north. And so it is really a place that takes you and fascinates you. It is a place where the villa where the family lived has remained intact, there is still the women's gallery in the small church where the noble family owner of Borgo Scopeto attended mass, and under the church where all the employees of the farm went. So there are some things that were very charming and remained intact just. And so it was love at first sight. I gave up all the other negotiations I had here and there for Tuscany and we focused on this one, so much so that the day I closed the agreement with the Swiss who was the last owner of Borgo Scopeto, Alessandra came, who was small. with me and it was impressive; we closed the deal with a handshake and he gave me almost the keys to everything. So it was really a beautiful story with Borgo Scopeto and I always remember it with great pleasure.
A.A. I was 11 years old but I remember that as soon as I arrived from the cypress avenue, which is not the classic cypress avenue that there are so many now here in Tuscany, and this cypress avenue here is not surprisingly photographed and sought after by magazines. botany because it is probably one of the oldest remaining intact in Tuscany. The cypresses that are here in the avenue are majestic, they are true secular cypresses with hundreds of years of history and you can see from their height, from their size, from truly their majesty. And therefore already from the entrance one realizes that he is in a very special place. After the cypress avenue we arrived in the main garden which at the time was reigned by a huge magnolia, which unfortunately then a lightning bolt dried it up, but it was a magnolia over 30 meters high, it was incredible, so that too had that "I don't-know-what" special. You would turn around and you had the Torre del Mangia and the Duomo tower right in front of you, and not many places around here have a view like you have from Borgo Scopeto. And then we went inside the main structure and even though it was 10 years of neglect you could see that it had had so much history and still had so much to tell and despite being hit on the stairs by a huge horde of bats from the tower, which no longer had a roof at the time, it didn't scare us. And then we still have a tank that we found intact. So there is not only true and pure history, but there is also the history of architecture. He has gone through various phases of architecture, various phases of construction, various buildings, all of which are from different years, and therefore you never find a place like the other, and it is really special. There are many incredible places in Italy, but this one is really special.
What inspired the restructuring of the Borgo? Was the image of what you wanted already clear, or was it a gradual inspiration?
E.G. I have always tried to stay in a range of colors that I knew I loved very much, from beige to blue, blue is there in all its forms, there is also a little bit of green and to give some color there is a little orange, but the rest is not there, there are not many colors. Because beige and gray reign supreme everywhere. Whoever supported me at the time was a very good architect called Umberto Sifola and who really gave us a big hand to give character and imprint to this place. Which poor man always had his wings plugged by me, because he would have thrown himself more on color, or with a little more imagination. Instead, poor thing I was behind me saying "no, I don't like this ... no here, no there" and then somehow this hotel came out and surely this architect gave us a big hand. Then we put my son to hard labor, who at the time was trying his hand as a photographer and was very young, he was just over 20 years old. All the prints and photos in this hotel are his, who not only made them, but printed them one by one and I must say he did a great job. And so he gave a big hand because I didn't want to put pictures or fake things or these prints that are in series and in every room there is the same thing. So from the hall to the rooms the photos you see are all his, even those with all the phases of the renovation. Even in our cellars there are all the photos taken by him.
A.A. I was present at my mother's meeting-clashes with the architect and I must say it looked like a sitcom. If we had recorded all the renovation phases, one of the funniest TV series in history would have come out. Because the architect is a truly incredible character, he is very nice, as well as being very good, a person of real taste, he was able to revive the Borgo knowing how to reinterpret the elegance of the time while also keeping it in a contemporary key. But yes, they reached a compromise, on a single room, where he was allowed to give more vent to more whimsical colors, and that is our 109, an executive suite, where he was able to show off orange in all its splendor. But for everything else it was a constant battle, but in the end it was a good compromise.
There are many luxury experiences to try in Borgo Scopeto, but perhaps the one that encompasses them all and best expresses the bond with the territory is the Borgo Scopeto Experience. Do you want to talk about it?
E.G. Alessandra worked hard on this experience, so I don't want to take credit for it, I prefer her to answer only, she is her creature, so I leave the floor to her.
A.A. We know that here, wherever one turns, one has the opportunity to live many different experiences. The fortune of Borgo Scopeto is that it is a world of its own.We have recreated what could also be a medieval village that lived on its own abilities. So over the years we have made the effort to make our own olive oil, we have our olive groves, our vineyards, our wine, now also our vegetable garden and our honey ... in short, there are many things self-produced by us that were worth to bring to life. We started from what is the emblem and what we do best is wine and therefore we wanted guests to come here and be able to come back with a piece of Borgo that is related to wine. From there came the idea of making these bottles in very limited series with the special label born from the collaboration with a Tuscan artist, because for us it was very important that the artist should also represent the place and should understand and share ours with us. idea and that we find an expression that could go on our bottles that everyone liked. We identified it in Maurizio Baccili, and this collaboration was born. He created this beautiful picture that represents Borgo Scopeto and what is its essence in the blue and red color of the wine, therefore the wine that is immersed in these spirals and whirlpools that give vent to so much energy. This painting was cut into a limited number of pieces that went into making these labels. So the guest can go home with these labels that can be detached and become a painting, so he takes a piece of Borgo Scopeto with him. But certainly you can't live the experience without coming here, trying a gourmet dinner with all the local products, because we are lucky enough to live in one of the regions that also gives us great excellence from a gastronomic point of view, so we are lucky to be able to exploit this. Inside the Borgo there is also a Wellness Center, where being wine producers and having the pomace available, we have created a path that is a specific treatment, Il Bagno di Bacchus, which is done with the pomace, a sort of wine therapy for the body. Then of course there are all the services offered by Borgo Scopeto; we are in the Chianti Classico, we are on the Via Eroica, the most famous white roads in the world, so there is the possibility to take the bikes and take a ride on these wonderful roads. But then it is also nice to go home with a memory of this experience and therefore the Borgo Scopeto Experience was born with this purpose.
Your favorite paring with the cuisine of the restaurant "La Tinaia"?
E.G. In my opinion, one of our very strong dishes is certainly the pici di Pietro that goes perfectly with any Chianti Classico from our cellars of course, up to the maximum expression of the Chianti Classico that we make here which is the Gran Selezione, which is a Chianti Classico 100% Sangiovese that some journalists have defined me as very “brunelliante”, because it is very elegant and rich in body, power and tannins and acidity typical of Chianti Classico, but with an extraordinary elegance. Then the tagliata that Pietro does very well, served with coarse salt and sauces, we would combine our Brunello di Montalcino, while the tartare of both meat and fish our white that we produce in Montalcino, Le Grance, which is a particularly rich and important wine that can accompany these dishes very well.
A.A. If I had to choose a wine that goes well with all or almost all of our dishes it is Borgonero, which is our Supertuscan that we produce in our cellars in Borgo Scopeto, otherwise Le Grance, which is a unique wine that goes very well with good for the tartare that are very particular here. And then we are in the Chianti Classico, so it cannot be missed and I would also combine it with guinea fowl which, even if very delicate, I would put it in, because it is another very strong dish here.
What vision do you have of the future of the hotel? Sustainability plays a very important role in the direction that Borgo Scopeto is taking, like the vegetable garden, the bees ...
E.G. My dream is to bring Borgo Scopeto to 5 stars, and see this place valued for what it should be. The other thing I would like to see done and that I will leave in the hands of Alessandra, who is an engineer, to whom I will leave carte blanche, are these small houses in the green, respectful of all the most cutting-edge green rules, with zero impact. Because among all the greenery and trees we have here, being able to make self-sufficient houses from an energy point of view is a dream. 15 super ecological garden suites. Having two children and four grandchildren, I would certainly like to leave a little piece of the world that is a bit "perfect", as we would like the whole of Italy and the whole world to be, for my children and grandchildren. This is how I see the future. Then it's up to Alessandra to make it happen, since she has the skills and knowledge to do it.
A.A. It all starts with my brother, who is an Environmental Engineer, so he studied this. I am an aerospace engineer, which is another thing, but he was the very first to fight to develop renewable energy. We in Borgo Scopeto were among the first in the Chianti Classico to have photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panels, always after many battles, because it seems simple but it is not so here in Italy to be able to do these things. We are continuing on this path because for us it is as if it were a life mission. We focused on the basics at the beginning; we were the first to have biological water purifiers. So the water that we put back into the environment is absolutely clean, whether it comes out of our cellars or comes out of the Relais. This is a fundamental thing for us, they are precisely the basis from which to start. We have state-of-the-art heating and cooling here in Borgo, so that neither energy nor gas emissions are wasted. It's all a system that we renewed last year, so done with the very latest environmental characteristics. We have just obtained the ISO 14001 certification which demonstrates the fact that we are respectful of the environment and we are introducing more and more practices to make this hotel more and more zero-impact. Indeed, we probably already are, because we have more than 300 hectares of forest to support us, so if we did a check we would probably produce more oxygen than the CO2 we re-emit into the environment. We have put bees, we have made our vegetable garden, just to have control over the products we give to our guests and we are sure of the origin of our products. Just today our chef made a garlic sauce and said "Never before has it tasted so good" precisely because we used our garden tomatoes. Then we have the cosmetic line that is made with our products, with the olive trees, with the grapes, the cypress and the rosemary we have, which however will be implemented with lavender and helichrysum that we have planted in the last year, which produce essential oils of absolute prestige. We deliberately put lavender and helichrysum because in spite of what one might think, helichrysum is native to Tuscany and all the medieval villages of the time had lavender plantations. So let's try to bring back what was ours from the beginning. Then we replanted an orchard looking for the medieval cultivars, which were native to here, such as Meli Sangiovanni and Pere Cosce di Monaca which were already present in these areas. Obviously we have our DOP olive oil, with our grape must we make our balsamic vinegar, aged 8 years, from an vinegar factory in Modena. And then there are clearly our wines. So in the future we see a world that is increasingly Borgo Scopeto, in the sense that it must all be a unique, total and global experience that a guest has by coming here to us.
Is there a corner of the Borgo that you prefer compared to the others, do you have a place in your heart?
E.G. Surely the terrace overlooking Siena, this natural terrace, which has not been remodeled by us at all, because we left it as it was, where you can also see the sunset behind the cypress-lined avenue. For me this is the place of the heart. Especially when there is flowering wisteria, it is a punch in the stomach, wonderful, a special view.
A.A. I have two. Inside is the glimpse of the entrance to the tower where we have the bar room and there you can see the column that supports the tower and there is a view on the red sofa, which is really special, it makes you understand in what place it is unique. Instead, now that we have put the garden, the helichrysum and the lavender outside, the walk towards Roccolo and Roccolo itself. Because there are very few of Roccolo left, because they are very difficult to maintain. They consist of these dwarf oaks and holm oaks which are truly amazing and special trees.