Novanta is an experience hotel nestled high up in the Casentino Hills of Tuscany, in the abandoned village of Borgo di Gello.
With breathtaking views over the valley below this remarkable place gives guests the opportunity to experience a true and traditional taste of Tuscan life without sacrificing on luxury.
Immersed in nature, and swept up in local culture, food, and family – Novanta is a unique experience not to be missed.
For hundreds of years Borgo di Gello was the location of generations of farming families, working the land of the Gello Valley by hand.
The village is surrounded by the enchanting green forests of the Casentino and the rolling Corsalone river below. The natural environment with forests, streams, hills and meadows gives this place its unique character.
The story of novanta began in the summer of 2014, when four guys (Igor, Jeroen, Leonard and Mart) from Amsterdam stumbled upon an abandoned Tuscan village near Arezzo and Florence. Eager entrepreneurs full of energy and passion for such a beautiful spot in rural Italy, their goal was to open a pop-up hotel for 90 days.
Dining at long tables, trips to local producers and finding truffles and mushrooms in the woods made it into a real experience. It turned out to be a huge success!
A success thanks to the beautiful natural surroundings, the peacefulness, and the liveliness of the authentic Tuscan country life. After a great first summer, guests were already making reservations for the next year, and very soon the pop-up hotel, was a pop up no longer!
Now, Novanta is turning back into the thriving community it once was. There are vegetables growing once again in the ground, the fruit trees have sprung back into life. We have residents all year round, tending to the land and restoring the village, and we work every day with the amazingly talented people around us – our neighbours and our friends.
Their skills, their knowledge and their support allow us to build and restore Borgo di Gello into the bustling village it once was.
Borgo di Gello is also conveniently close to some of the most popular cities in Tuscany – Arezzo lies just under one-hour drive away and Florence only 1.5 hours – perfect for a day trip shopping or taking in some city culture!
In the past, we have hosted up to 80 people in our village. For yoga groups we prefer to accommodate up to two persons in a room, so the participants have time and space to relax and settle in.
Accommodation options and bathrooms
Lucky us, we have several options to accommodate up to 80 people at novanta! In our experience with yoga retreats, it is best to use our Studios, Skylodge and Treehouse as single rooms and our Suites and Cottage as double rooms (2 participants).
Every room has its own design and a fully equipped bathroom with a toilet, shower or bathtub. We prepare for each guest a queen-sized bed (160x200cm).
The rooms are spread over the entire village. We equipped three big farm houses La Fattoria, Il Casale and Il Grifo with our suites and studios. And our cottage is called Il Sambuco.
All of our bedrooms have been maintained in the Traditional Tuscan style with stone walls and tiles floors – with a little bit of eclectic novanta design thrown in for good measure!
The huge thick original stone walls create spacious, airy and cool spaces in summer, and keep lovely and cozy in winter. Our rooms are equipped with handmade soap, towels and fresh water from our own spring.
We have several possibilities and can vary them throughout the retreat: the pool is a great spot for starting the day with a yoga session while enjoying the beautiful view over the valley, the spot in front of our biggest ruin is perfect for a sunset yoga session or meditation, the old arena which is covered with a stretch tent is a secluded and calm spot for the evening sessions.
Currently, we are finishing up the building of an inside banqueting area for up to 100 persons, which can also be used for yoga sessions or workshops.
However, our purpose is to accommodate our guests as comfortably as possible and would therefore suggest keeping the amount of yoga participants to a maximum of 25 people. Last year we invested in 20 yoga mats, yoga blocks, big yoga bolsters and blankets.
The most important thing in an Italian home is its Kitchen, and this is exactly the same for us at Novanta! All of the food on our table is sourced from local farmers, businesses, neighbours and friends.
Every day we prepare fresh, delicious meals filling our village with the smells of hundreds of years of tradition! From our original wood fired ovens to our overflowing vegetable garden you won’t go far without your taste buds being tingled!
We see food as a connector to the people and to nature. By connecting with local producers, we can offer our guests high quality food, coming straight from the land.
Our food plan costs €39 per person per day and includes our luxury breakfast buffet, an Italian lunch and a 3-4 course dinner.
Meals are served in our indoor or outdoor restaurant, on a long table, where everyone is sitting together, sharing wine and stories.
We are an experience hotel and love working together with our neighbours and local friends! Our guests love going on an E-Mountain bike tour through the beautiful mountains of the Casentino mountains and valley, to truffle hunt with our friend Nicola and his two dogs and to visit our dear neighbour and friend Fabrizio who has an organic farm and produces the most delicious Tuscan sausages and meat whilst his wife Meri has magical hands and gives great massages and beauty treatments.
Besides this we offer an escape room experience in our village, archery, wine tastings (on or offsite), and a (silent) hike to the close by monastery La Verna passing through the famous forest of St Francis of Assissi is always a good moment to enjoy nature and to reflect on life.
Additionally, our chef Jeroen gives cooking lessons, pasta workshops and we are always in for a picnic and river hike at the Corsalone river.
Booking terms / pricing
Please contact us to discuss as each retreat we host is tailor made
Location and how to get there
The authentic Tuscan quality of this village and its surroundings results from its relative isolation. Gello distinguishes itself from other village “albergos” in Tuscany by its hidden setting in the middle of a Nature Reserve.
The village is made up of 15 buildings including the old school and the small ancient church of San Martino. This makes the village tranquil and in harmony with its surroundings; the houses of Gello blend naturally with the breathtaking landscape. Due to extremely strict zoning rules in Tuscany the classic views are frozen in time.
From the highest points in the village, the views across the valley are spectacular. Sitting at the base of the valley you can see the ancient towns of Bibbiena and Poppi, including the impressive Poppi Castle “Castello dei Conti Guidi”.
The hills behind novanta house the ancient working monastery of La Verna “Santuario Francescano” – one of the most revered monasteries in the area and vital piece in the history of Saint Frances of Assisi. One of our favourite activities at novanta is a beautiful walk up the mountain through the enchanted forest of Chiusi Della Verna to enjoy the views and tranquility of this impressive building.
The closest airports are Florence, Pisa and Bologna. The closest railway station is Bibbiena or Arezzo.
Distance or time to travel from airport to hotel: From the airport it takes about 1.5 hours to our beautiful village, up the steep mountains of Tuscany. It is not easy to come up here, but it is more than worth it. Bibbiena, the closest town, has a railway station and we can arrange a pickup from there.