Just an hour outside of Florence and north of Arezzo is the quaint town of Il Borro. The medieval hamlet, whose origins date back more than a thousand years, is named for its yellow gorges, otherwise known as borri. The town, which was originally inhabited by the Etruscans and the Romans, now houses the renowned Il Borro, a luxurious “albergo diffuso” run by the famous Italian fashion house Ferragamo.
As the story goes, its noble structure, part of a 1,750-acre farm estate in the Arno Valley, passed twice through Medici's hands and was also bombed out by the Germans during World War II. During the mid-50s, the estate passed to the ownership of Duke Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta, a member of Italy’s royal family, and in 1993 he sold the entire property to Ferruccio Ferragamo, the eldest son of Italy’s most iconic cobbler: Salvatore Ferragamo. Il Borro’s multifaceted and storied past led Ferruccio to refer to it as “an enduring act of faith.” He fell madly in love with the estate in 1985, renting it for the Ferragamo family until he decided to buy it.
Ferruccio poses inside the Limonaia (Lemon House) in his villa at Il Borro. He wears khaki chino trousers, a jacket and a shirt, all in cotton, paired with a silk Ferragamo tie and a pair of Tramezza shoes
A wonderful spirit emanates throughout the grounds of Il Borro. “I fell in love with this place,” says Ferruccio. “The village is 1,000-years-old and at the moment is all restored but in those days it was like a lost beauty.” When the Ferragamo family received it, the village and the estate were in very bad condition. As soon as he had purchased the property, Ferruccio, with help from his son Salvatore, the current CEO of Il Borro, began extensive restoration and refurbishment of the ancient place.
“Half of the village was bombed during World War II and needed extensive repair,” recalls Ferruccio. Many farmhouses had been abandoned and numerous villas needed restoration, as did the land itself. There were vineyards that needed to be rebuilt as well as the infrastructure of the bridges and roads that crossed the estate’s four-river valleys. “Every centimetre of Il Borro contains work that we have done,” adds Ferruccio. “From the floor where we are standing, the façade of the home and so much more. Everything has been restored and we still have many things that need to be renovated.”
A view of the living room in Ferruccio’s villa at Il Borro
The mission of the restoration project was to bring this deeply enchanting place back to life, striking a continuum between its former self and traditions, preserving its rich history and adapting it to the present. Il Borro’s chatelaine worked with architect Guido Ciompi, and local architect, Elio Lazzerini, to restructure the house, bit by bit, from the soil level to the floor plan. Today Il Borro stands proud as it is, resurrecting centuries-old Italian art and architecture and endowing it beautifully with a modern sense of luxury.
A vase of flowers sits atop art and design books on a table at the entrance of Ferruccio’s villa at Il Borro
Find the rest of the story inside the October 2018 issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors.
Photography by Gugliemlo De' Micheli, Styled by Marina Bernacchioni. Ferragamo.com