There are few truly private golf clubs in Europe – and only one that sits at the heart of a prestigious wine estate in Tuscany. For Massimo Ferragamo – scion of the Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and luxury goods dynasty – the call to bring to life an abandoned village and 2,000-hectare estate within a UNESCO protected landscape, infusing luxury and authentic Tuscan simplicity into a unique blend of wine, hospitality and private golf proved irresistible.
Is there a spot at The Club at Castiglion del Bosco which you’d deem to be your personal favourite, and why?
Sitting on the Clubhouse terrace, in the evening, watching the sun set over the golf course and across the Val d’Orcia, sharing a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino with family and friends, is something that is forever on my mind, wherever I am in the world.
What were your feelings when you first encountered the premises?
Castiglion del Bosco has been an incredible place for centuries and what spoke to me when I first came here was the landscape; 2,000 hectares of hills, forests, fields and, of course, the vineyards. I have to be honest and say it was wine that first brought me here. I was so incredibly moved by the limitless views and the scenery, I knew it was the place for me. That was in 2003 and now, with 62 hectares of organic vineyards, a winery, the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco Hotel and Italy’s only truly private golf club, it is what I always, always wished for.
How important is it for The Club to reflect the identity of – to “belong” to – its Tuscan surrounds?
It’s an evolving world, so even places like this where the estate has preserved the same boundaries for more than 800 years has to evolve and always have a new meaning. But you have to respect the main reason people come here and why they love it, which is because it is Tuscany. So The Club, including a golf course sympathetically designed to blend into the landscape, and the Clubhouse, restored farm buildings using reclaimed stone and roof tiles, is fashioned in true Tuscan style, from the ground up. The beauty of Tuscany really is its simplicity, so you never want to give that up no matter what you do. Our members have to experience the best; everything has to be done in a great way. I’m a true believer in things that are real and so I thought it was very important to give all the comforts and amenities that are necessary, but on the other side to keep it real – keep it Tuscan.
What was unique about how Tom Weiskopf went about the golf course design?
Tom Weiskopf has designed some of the greatest golf courses in the world. Working with Tom was a real pleasure. He has designed the golf course keeping in mind the land, which was so important to me. The wider Val d’Orcia landscape, which is UNESCO listed, has been celebrated since the Renaissance as a region that reflects the ideals of people living in harmony with nature, creating an aesthetically pleasing picture. Tom interpreted this very, very well and, using the natural contours of the land, has created something important, different and unique.
Was there a catalyst moment that led you to the founding of the club – possibly years before you founded it?
Originally, I wanted to find a rural retreat, a vineyard and some traditional Tuscan farmhouses from which we could create a private estate, a place to share with family and friends. So I really wasn’t looking for an estate of this size, or an abandoned “borgo” (village), but I fell in love with Castiglion del Bosco at first sight. As we set about restoring the borgo, which is now a Rosewood hotel with 23 suites, as well as transforming 11 luxury farmhouses into luxury villas, some of my international friends suggested it would be great to also have a private golf course within the estate.
Also, my wife Chiara and I, wanted this magical place to “live again” and in order to achieve that, we thought that we had to create a synergy between wine, hospitality and a private golf course. The inspiration for Castiglion del Bosco came from the land and the place itself; it was like the estate ‘told us’ what it needed to live again. So that’s where the idea of The Club originated.
Do you feel consumer tastes are changing in the luxury realm – and how?
Yes, in the luxury realm consumer tastes are always evolving. I feel that nowadays people are looking for more bespoke experience, more unique experiences and more simplicity, but in a truly unique surrounding and environment.
Is luxury moving away from the tangible, towards the experiential?
Yes, I think so. Tangible is always in demand, but in my opinion people now are looking towards a new true type of luxury, which is represented by what fulfils your soul and your mind.
Where, and in what circumstances, do you get your best creative ideas?
I get my best creative ideas in the shower in the morning [laughs], or it can be looking at the untouched and stunning Tuscan landscape, or in front of a sea view. At the end of the day, though, great and creative ideas can come from anywhere, if it’s the right moment when you are particularly inspired.
Look out for an account of our visit to The Club at Castiglion del Bosco in the latest issue of Robb Report UK, out now