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A Philosophy of life
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TESTIMONIALS

Michael, Susan & Natlaie Farver FL USA

 

Before I begin, I hope our fellow owners and readers will indulge me in beginning our story with another story. Actually, it’s not really a story. It’s a fairy tale, a dream come true:

It was mid-afternoon on November 11, 2006. The sun shined brightly and a slight breeze ruffled the trees, resplendent in shades of green red and gold, as Susan and I maneuvered our oversized rental car down the scenic two-kilometer gravel road to Borgo di Vagli. To say we were road weary would have been a major understatement – We had begun our adventure with a sleepless overnight flight from Miami, followed by an arrival delay that resulted in missing our connection in Paris. The resulting five-hour delay leaving for Florence, followed by an uncertain drive into a previously untraveled part of Italy, had conspired to deeply strain both our resolve and our good spirits.

A bigger question loomed. Why were we struggling so mightily to reach a place that, until a few weeks earlier, we had never even heard of? How did we get here? It had all started with an email out of the blue from a trusted travel advisor while we were sitting in our kitchen one balmy Florida evening. His message spoke of a magnificent medieval hamlet, meticulously restored and nestled in the hillsides of Tuscany. A sanctuary, a step back in time, a soulful refuge that under the watchful eye and romantic heart of Fulvio di Rosa had forged a spiritual connection with nature and the surrounding environment. We paused while eating dinner long enough to read the Architectural Digest article link he had included. It sounded like magic. It sounded like the kind of place that we had never experienced in our many previous trips to Italy, those stereotypical tourist visits that had always included too many cities, a succession of luxury hotels, concierge service, fancy dinners, and lots of luggage. And it sounded like it was just what we needed at that moment in our lives. It had been a difficult year and a challenging time that had already included two career changes, family troubles, the death of a parent and our family Doberman … And so before dessert, in a manner not at all in keeping with our usual thoughtful, well-planned, reasoned and professional approach to decision-making, we replied to his message: ”Yes. Please book us for a visit to Borgo di Vagli.”

All that and more was swirling through my head as we drove up the final hill past the entrance sign, took a right and pulled to a stop in front of Reception. I’ve always been somewhat dismissive of throwing around terms like “destiny” or “fate,” as I’ve always believed that I have some measure of control over my own life, but as we stepped from the car on that beautiful afternoon seven years ago, surrounded by majestic stone walls crowned with magnificent slate roofs, and gazed down as shadows of the clouds swept the valley below and the Pierle Castle shone in the distance, I knew, with complete and absolute certainty, that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. I reached for Susan’s hand and simply said, “Welcome home, my love.”

That is a true story. So it took us all of 48 hours to sign the paperwork and purchase our interest in the Hamlet. (We would have acted sooner, but Lee was tied up with another couple). We were one of the first dozen fractional owners, and after seven years and a dozen or so trips, I can say with even more passion and commitment that Borgo di Vagli is exactly what we imagined. It is in fact a unique sanctuary, a step back in time, a soulful refuge that shares a spiritual connection with nature and the surrounding environment. It is our home in Italy, and the entire staff has become our Italian family. Borgo has given us uncountable life-altering moments that seem to appear out of thin air: Watching from a wrought iron chair sitting on one of the terraces while Susan filled the stillness with laughter, picking olives with Dina as the sun sank over the side of the mountain. Or our daughter Natalie, who made her first trip to the hamlet in a stroller before her third birthday, experiencing snow for the first time in her life, smiling and making snow angels after a sudden afternoon snow squall. Or Dina & Tiziana in the kitchen, lovingly teaching Natalie to roll out pasta and make pizza dough. Or standing together in total darkness, watching a full lunar eclipse while sipping Lemoncello with a dozen old, and new, friends after an amazing meal and night of fellowship in I’cche c’é c’é. Or walking the trails with our dearest friends, Rachel and Robert – Brits that became our best friends for life during our first weekend together at the hamlet. The fact is that every visit, every day and evening spent in this special place, presents one with the opportunity to be amazed and empowered.

On the more practical side, although it is a sanctuary in the truest sense of the word, we have found that Borgo’s central location is one of its greatest assets. It is only fifteen kilometers from Cortona; a couple hours away from Chianti, Montalcino and the all best wines and vineyards in Italy; less than two hours to Siena, a two-hour train ride to Rome, or a quick drive to unique and special places like Castiglion del Lago, or the jewel-box walled city of Montone, or Umbrian gems like Montefalco and Bevagna. The vast majority of Italy is open to us for exploration, although we have to admit that once settled into Borgo, one’s spirit does not want to leave. It is this unique combination of total seclusion, located right in the center of everything, which makes the hamlet so alluring.

Borgo di Vagli is, to our family, comprised of three very distinct elements. First, there is the hamlet itself. The scope of the restoration is stunning and completely true to its roots and origins. Fulvio’s vision, passion for detail and imagination are on full display, and his philosophy of seamlessly blending architecture and environment to create balance and harmony is a joy to experience. Borgo is not a “resort.” There is no health club, spa, golf course, or over-priced gift shop. What the hamlet does have is original stone floors, open beam ceilings, slate roofs, solitude, a night sky that at times appears to be on fire, filled with stars, wild rosemary and lavender, miles of hiking paths, a beautiful pool, daytime views of the surrounding hills and countryside that would put a postcard to shame, and enough nooks and secluded corners that you can actually sit and read a book, relax, linger over a quiet lunch or contemplate the universe in utter privacy and seclusion.

Second is the amazing, kind and loving staff. Our Borgo family has helped raise our daughter, teaching and sharing their lives with her. Thanks to technology, we stay in constant communication, and they share in everything from her piano recitals to birthday parties to her latest third grade adventures. Lee (and his beautiful and loving family), Stefania, Daria, Simone – everyone is like a surrogate parent to our precious little girl, and she has been enriched beyond measure by their engagement in her life. They are the bedrock of the close community that exists among owners and visitors. In addition to our visits several times a year, we have used the benefits of our fractional ownership to send dozens of dear friends and family to experience the magic themselves, and every single person confirms that they have never been treated with more kindness, respect and consideration, wherever they have traveled, than they receive at Borgo.

Third are the other owners and guests with whom we are privileged to share the unique experience that is Borgo di Vagli. You never know who you will be sharing dinner with in the trattoria on any given night, but you can be certain that they will be interesting, adventurous and enlightening. We have made many life-long friends; have shared laughter, tears and secrets that wouldn’t be shared in any other environment. The closeness is genuine, real, and incredibly rewarding.

One final thought: Borgo is not for everyone. It is not a place to see or be seen, or a destination where every moment is scripted or planned. But for people whose dreams it fulfills, like ours, it is a joy and treasure beyond measure.