Casalborgone is a small town nestled around 40 minutes outside Turin. It is accessible from Turin airport and from Milan airport which is approximately 1 hour and 30-minute drive. Turin and Milan airports have easy accessibility and Northern Italy is famous for its food, football and industry and a certain wealth of living. Northern Italy historically has often been a “seat of power” over the centuries and great architecture and art has come from here. I was invited with my partner, Melanie to spend afew days at a castle in Northern Italy and who could possibly say no!!
It is a private residence that has been refurbished to the highest standard by Gary Douglas. Gary greets us at the door and tells us that the castle is hundreds of years old and he bought it back to life after a 40-year slumber. The project took time and the results are quite incredible. The attention to detail and the beautiful features of old and new marry beautifully together. Old tall ceilings with beautiful mosaics are joined wonderfully with fresh, bright marble bathrooms that shine. Each room is totally unique and furnished with deep comfortable beds and rare antiques. The beautiful combination of elegance and timelessness leads to a wonderful sense of peace and silence. He guides us through the castle showing us unique little features and explaining the care that went into the restoration project. You get a real sense that it was a labour of love. He decorated each room himself and the affect is simply stunning. Each room looks out to the valley below and green lush Italian fields that stretch out until they meet the imposing mountains in the far distance. The beautiful Alps are snow-capped and glisten in the distance and I watch an Italian farmer go about his day gently plodding along and minding his sheep. I realise this sense of timelessness is not just in the castle, it seems to pervade the air and is almost tangible. A deep sense of timelessness and tranquillity and all your worries can ease away. It is a special place and that feeling never leaves you.
We stayed in the presidential suite and the wooden floors with deep rugs and beautiful chandeliers give a very decadent feel. The presidential suite consists of a large bedroom and a palatial sitting room and a second bedroom if required. The beds have a special story to tell. Gary and his friend Dain Heer went around the world and tested all the bed toppers available on the market. They tested and tested and tested until they found the best one and I can attest that all the work was worthwhile. My partner, Melanie described it like “sleeping inside a marshmallow” and nestled high above the valley, one can only agree with her assessment. The sheets are soft and the pillows supportive and you just know that every detail here has been specially considered.
Word comes that it is time for dinner. After our flight from Ireland, I am hungry and wondering what the dining room will look like if the bedroom looks like a palace. The stairs curve round and we enter a bright open reception and the waiter opens the door into a beautiful red brick curved room with candles shining brightly in silver candlesticks. We are guided to the dining table and the other guests are quite impressive. An Australian couple who had managed numerous companies and now work as international business consultants, an international lawyer from Austria and the main building supervisor, David Caddy. The conversations are dynamic and flowing and David explains how he overcame each challenge with the build by asking the question “What would the castle like? “Simply genius, I had never considered that before – Ask the building what it wanted. What a novel way of considering to build. David is a master builder who usually did new houses, and this was a totally different project for him. He worked with the Italian tradespeople and engaged local knowledge to find out how things were done in the past and dip into the rich knowledge that the local people have to offer. Some of the work sounded painstaking and the results are impressive. Floors were specially treated with a type of bees’ wax that brings up the grain and colour of the wood. His passion for the project is evident and he explains in detail the care they took to bring the castle to life. The food arrives, and the conversation quickly stops as people savour the local produce. The food is sourced locally, and each course is a treat for the senses. The steak breaks gently off the fork and just melts in your mouth. The cheeses and hams are a treat so special in Italy. The wine flows, the conversations expand and flow, the laughter echoes from the ceiling and you know deep down this is a special place.
The days ease away as we stroll through the local town and hills. The meals are rich and delicious, the conversations flow and there is a general sense of ease. That the pounding pace of life can stop for a while and you have time to consider things and savour moments. Reflect on life and let it all flow on by!! The overall sense is one of decadence, peace and a certain level of elegance that I thought had died in this digital age, never to be seen again. Gary and his team have created something special and in an age of rapid consumerism and fast movement and thought, the castle harkens us back to a realisation that life is to be enjoyed, wine is to be savoured, food should nurture your body and soul, conversations should be deep and timeless, beds should be luxurious and comforting. Everything here is designed to feed your soul and allow your creativity to soar and dream different dreams. If you are looking to be the king or queen of your life again and enjoy the finer aspects of life, then the castle at Casalborgone is an option that could well change your life. It certainly changed mine.
For more information on the castle, please visit www.casalborgone.com
For more blogs and travel tips from Paul Kearney, please visit www.iamPaulKearney.com or follow him on Instagram as travellingtipperaryman