Immersed in 320 hectares at an altitude of 650 m.a.s.l. in the hilly Umbrian countryside and woods is Tenuta Borgo Santa Cecilia, formerly an ancient village that was transformed into relaxing boutique resort with five spacious suites and a restaurant. It paints a picture of a perfect Umbrian experience where unspoilt nature, typical stone structures, enhanced by an authentic and innovative kitchen can live up to the ideal relaxing holiday. The resort was born from the idea of proprietor Giuseppe Onorato who comes from a family of constructors but with a big passion for the genuineness and quality of food. Being urban-grown, he and his wife Serena Sebastiani abandoned life in Rome and restarted a new life with the creation of Tenuta Borgo Santa Cecilia. At the resort, he is able to express to his guests the importance of the quality of living amongst nature but without abandoning the comforts of a refined style.
“The most engaging activity at your fingertips? Experience nature. I never recommend staying one night, because the Borgo must be lived. We are in the middle of nowhere, with wild animals almost knocking on the door, usually at sunset. When you are here you forget your cell phone, the hustle and bustle of the city. The gaze is open, it relaxes even just observing the view and listening to the sounds of the seasons. Here you can experience a holiday that puts you back in touch at your own pace. Many of our guests leave after two or three days completely regenerated. Being able to convey the atmosphere of the countryside is already a huge satisfaction for me,” says Giuseppe.
Staying at Tenuta Borgo Santa Cecilia means experiencing all the spaces and possibilities that nature and luxury can give. From simply leaning out of the bedroom windows and enjoying the incredible panorama of the Umbrian countryside, relaxing beside the fireplace or on the lounging chairs in the garden, staying at the at the hydromassage pool in the garden, exploring the country roads with the electric mountain bikes, yoga lessons, horseback riding, bird watching, going for meditative walks, or for a more unique experience, truffle hunting with an experienced truffle hunter, Francesco and his dog Maya.
The Sustainability of the Estate and the Farm
Out of the 320 hectares where the resort is located, 200 hectares are wild woods (about a hundred of which are a part of the Rete Natura 2000, a system of protection of the environmental and landscape heritage) while the remaining 120 hectares are cultivable. It is a natural habitat for wild boards, goats, deer, hares, partridge, pheasants, and woodcocks. Periodic hunting is regulated according to the method of selection under strict control of the Umbrian authorities, precisely to maintain the biological balance between species. In the cultivated fields, cereals, fodder, wheat, spelt, barley, oats, chickpeas, lentils, field beans, peas, alfalfa and olive trees are planted. A part of the harvest is used to feed hens, pigs and lambs raised exclusively in the wild. The fruits of the harvest and the products deriving from the farms, as well as for sale, are used to supply the sustainable cuisine of the restaurant of the resort. And its environmental green philosophy doesn’t stop there. The facility was one of the first in Umbria to become Tesla’s Destination Charging three years ago. Furthermore, thanks to photovoltaic systems, renewable energy is used and the structure is heated only by woody biomass, an eco-sustainable material with zero impact.
Authentic ingredients grown in the estate recounts the flavors of the territory. This is the principal focus of the kitchen of Chef Alessio Pierini alongside Giuseppe’s wife, Serena and Giulia. The 35-year old chef is a graduate of the renowned ALMA La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana in northern Italy and after various work experiences in Italy, he decided to go back to his roots in Gubbio where he met Giuseppe. From there, the project of the restaurant was born. His belief is to work closely with genuine raw materials without intermediaries where he is free to experiment, drawing inspiration from the unpoilt nature around him and the valuable he traditions of the land as he expresses his creativity following his cooking techniques. On this, he and Giuseppe were immediately united in philosophy.
Chef Alessio Pierini explains, “I’m trying to make the flavor of what Umbria means to me. It is a collection of family memories and tradition. With a hint of Asian and Middle Eastern influences, because I like to offer lively and earthy dishes at the same time. I want to go back to more traditional cooking, to fire and coal. Living in this agricultural and wild context requires me to respect the hogs we serve. I use every section of the animal completely; I always try to keep a plate on the menu in which I use the so-called ‘fifth quarter’. This is how I thought of the roe deer bottarga and helichrysum spaghetti. In August, when the flowers of the plants are at their peak and the new buds are visited by the youngest roe deer, born a few months earlier. I work on the heart as if it were a fish bottarga, macerated and dried to boost the flavor of the aromatics, a contrast is created where the bitterness prevails. The burnt leek tagliatella, pecorino rind and saffron broth are among my favorites.”
Giuseppe, the patron of the resort is also a certified sommelier and he directs the dining area with the help of of Erica. “The wine list reflects my eternal search for quality and the desire to establish direct relationships with the owners of the cellars. I am interested in knowing who dedicates their lives to wine, to convey a story to the table, a story that can be read with the nose and mouth,” says Giuseppe. There are about 70 labels in the wine list which is made up of about 40% local wines, 50% wines coming from other Italian regions and the remaining percentage a selection of international wines with a particular focus on champagnes.
The menu changes following the seasons and new dishes can be introduced with respect to the availability of raw materials. There are around five proposals per course: appetizers and first dishes of pasta and risotto are between €12 to €14, main courses at around €22 and desserts at €8. In the summer menu, do try the Tonno di Coniglio with Corn, Pollen and Tsukemono. It is a particular pheasant dish of Piedmontese origin worth mentioning as it is reminiscent of the chef’s grandmother’s method of conserving meat of hunted rabbit in oil then pickled and potted for long conservation. La Mia Panzanella alla Brace (My Grilled Panzanella) is a very different and interesting version of the typical panzanella as the smoky flavor of the scorched aubergines establishes itself in the palate. Then there is also the Dolce Umbria, a crème brulèe of broad beans wherein the sweetness relies on the natural sweetness that the beans give, enhanced with almond and vin santo mousse.
While pigs and sheep freely forage around the uncontaminated woods at the estate and are fed once a day with the crops that they grow, the quality of meat they provide is of exceptional quality. Aside from the good breeds that they raise, the Cinta Senese and Duroc for the pigs and Suffold and Bergamasca for the sheep, there are no added preservatives nor other chemicals, just salt and spices. The tradition of butchery and process of curing their own meat starts from Giuseppe’s Calabrian roots. From the truthfulness of his father, Antonio who carried out the tradition to the research and innovation of Marco and Giuseppe who transformed the family tradition to products of excellence. The cured meats reach a maturation of about four years where each piece is handcrafted, respecting the due seasons and growth times of the animals. For this reason, the quantities are very limited and all the cuts are different from each other.
At the restaurant, it is possible to taste their products and with their online shop, it is possible to buy them, all packed with care.
Tenuta Borgo Santa Cecilia
Frazione Montelovesco, Strada Provinciale 206 al Km. 15,500
06024 Gubbio (PG), Italy
Tel: +39 075 9252157
Onorato Salumi Website: https://onoratosalumi.com/