Livernano – The Superior Tuscan Resort
Italian Enthusiasts know that when it comes to wine-making, Italy rules. There are over 1.5 million acres of vineyards in Italy, which makes it essentially impossible to visit the country without seeing a vineyard in whatever region you travel. But not all vineyards are open to tourists, naturally. Some vineyard owners cultivate wine for their family’s consumption only, while others grow grapes solely to sell them to other winemaking establishments. Some, however, are open to the public, offering services to tourists including wine-tasting, tours, fine dining, accommodations, etc. – and the selection of vineyards available to visit range from poor to unsurpassable. As a frequent traveler to Italy, I’ve seen all kinds of vineyards over the years, but the Livernano Resort / Casalvento Winery steals the show.
Located in the heart of Tuscany (Radda in Chianti), less than an hour drive from Florence and Siena, the Livernano and Casalvento properties extend approximately 1,000 acres. The land was first inhabited by the Etruscans in ancient times, then occupied by the Romans during the Roman Empire. For hundreds of years the land was used for farming, until it was abandoned in 1953 due to the poverty suffered after WWII. Then, roughly 30 years ago, international entrepreneurs and Italian enthusiasts, Bob and Gudrun Cuillo, purchased the properties and began a complete and detailed restoration of the entire estate that took nearly 20 years to complete. Vineyards were re-planted, ancient olive groves restored and the buildings renovated, including the renovation of an 11th century Catholic Church. Today, Livernano and Casalvento produce not only the finest of wine, but also olive oil, honey, vegetables, fruits and marmalade. The vegetables at Livernano come from their own garden. The Cuillos spared no time and expense in bringing to life this heavenly hamlet and winery for all the world to experience.
Guests at the Livernano Resort have many luxuries at their disposal. There is a swimming pool on the premises overlooking hundreds of acres of Tuscan vineyards. The winery offers wine tastings, tours, and cooking classes, and the fine dining establishment offers the freshest of classic Italian and Tuscan cuisine. Various events are held at Livernano each year, including opera nights, yoga retreats and weddings/baptisms. Guest rooms are spacious and beautifully furnished, and the staff welcoming and kind. Not designed to host too many overnight guests at once, Livernano maintains an intimate and exclusive feel, and is often rented out in its entirety by small groups.
The Livernano and Casalvento wines have received a plethora of accolades over the years. The Cuillos did not set out to just make wine. Their goal was always to produce the highest quality of grapes to cultivate the finest of wines Tuscany has to offer. And they achieved just that, consistently ranking above 92 points in wine competitions internationally. Livernano and Casalvento produce wines including Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Super Tuscans. The 2013 Gran Selection of Livernano ranked 96 points in Decanter and was the best wine in its class.
What impressed me most about Livernano / Casalvento was that the operation appeared to be strong in all areas, lacking any deficiencies. Food, Wine, Privacy, Staff, Location, Atmosphere, Access, Amenities – All Superior. Having traveled to retreats, vineyards, and attractions all around Italy, it is rare to find “Superior” across the board, even in some 5-Star establishments. But at Livernano / Casalvento, there is no shortage of “Superior”.
As Italy prepares to open back up for tourists around the world, Italian Enthusiasts should be aware of the treasures at Livernano / Casalvento and consider visiting the resort and winery their next time in Tuscany. Traveling to Italy has never been as sanitary and safe as it is now, but for those skeptical tourists still concerned with congestion and crowds, visiting this rural Tuscan retreat would be the perfect choice and a step in the right direction to returning to Italy on a more regular basis.
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