BUTTERFLY STORIES SERIES
During this year’s lockdown I found myself yearning to return to one of my favourite places. Reschio is a place unlike any other. A valley of dreams. The 3,750-acre estate is in Umbria, a part of Italy which still feels wild and unexplored compared to its sleeker, well-trodden neighbour, Tuscany. Dominated by a brooding, circular castle and dotted with rambling stone farmhouses and deep, cool lakes fringed by woods of oak and chestnuts, Reschio has an untouched air. It reminds me of those far-away landscapes, all misty peaks and pinnacles, glimpsed in a Renaissance painting.
Reschio, which is south of Florence and north of Perugia, has been a part of our lives for several years. The estate is owned and managed by the Bolza family. Count Benedikt, an architect and his wife Donna Nencia, a Florentine artist who I have known since my childhood, are close friends and an endless source of inspiration. Reschio’s forested setting is so bucolic that inevitably, every time we visit, I find myself asking the Bolza girls to model for Morpho + Luna. These family shoots have become another ritual which bonds the children together – and to us. Morpho + Luna’s ‘Butterfly Story Series’ charts these special, fleeting moments, capturing the girls as they grow up, like butterflies emerging from a cocoon.
After years of renting summer homes, Benedikt’s parents, Count Antonio Bolza and his wife Countess Angelika, bought a house on the estate in 1984. A few years later, having sold his art-publishing business in Germany, the Count discovered that the surrounding land was for sale. The Austro-Hungarian Bolza family had once owned a large estate in Hungary which was confiscated by the Russians after the Second World War. Here was a chance to recreate a self-sustaining family domain, with land, water, and horses.
But there was a great deal of work to do. The 1000-year old castle was ruined. The land where tobacco was grown until the 1960’s, was a thicket of weeds and overgrown trees; the 50 farmhouses and outbuildings tumbledown wrecks. Astutely, Count Antonio came up with the idea of restoring the houses and selling them off-plan to buyers who would appreciate its peaceful, unmanicured setting and the craftsmanship involved in the restoration of its properties.
Today, all the family is involved in running the estate. And this is what makes it so special. Although Reschio is a commercial success, it feels authentic, considered, unshowy. The estate has grown slowly, staying true to its founder’s ideal of a family estate with a unique vision. You can sense the connection and respect to nature everywhere on the estate. There are trips in the Land Rover to swim in the pristine lake and lunches in the spacious treehouse, designed by Benedikt and Nencia, which overlooks the terraced, topiary-dotted gardens. Everyone helps on the land: fetching eggs, picking vegetables or flowers to make cordials. Inside, the children lend a hand with the cleaning. Guests – artists, singers, painters - come and go.
Through living and working on the estate, Nencia has become very knowledgeable about plants and their properties. When I last visited, they were harvesting the annual crop of St John’s Wort. They use it to make oils and tinctures for treating anything from sunburn to headaches.
Benedikt and Nencia spent the first ten years of their marriage living in the castle and their five children were partly home schooled on the estate. Now the castle, with its picturesque courtyard and gardens, has been turned in to a hotel. It’s a true labour of love and a true made in Italy story.
Every detail, down to the furniture and lighting, is designed by Benedikt and made in the estate’s workshop, set in a 1940’s tobacco factory.
The Hotel Castello di Reschio was due to welcome guests this summer, but inevitably, due to Covid 19 the opening has been delayed until next spring. Like everything here it will be worth waiting for.
Cécile Gavazzi - Founder Morpho + Luna