Val d'Orcia has become a magnet among travelers experienced in Tuscany and looking for a setting which is neither remote nor amidst the hyper activity of tourists. For the same reasons, the Val d'Orcia has attracted those who enjoy the considerable challenge of resuscitating a ruin and turning it into a country home. Everyone is drawn to the spectacular open countryside, the proximity to hill-towns and cities of interest, the simple goodness of the people. Lucky for us, these thoroughly modern outposts make ideal vacation spots. The location of Podere I Troscioni could not be better; a short drive on a dirt road, 5 minutes door-to-door to the village of Sarteano. In 10 minutes you are in Chiusi for the excellent Etruscan museum or a just-over-an-hour train to either Rome or Florence. Take the mountain road to San Casciano (Travel + Leisure; October 2002), or head off for Montepulciano, Pienza and San Quirico.
Podere I Troscioni lies across an open rise, the striking texture and color of the house bare to the sky. There is much to notice. The simple expansiveness of the yard encourages you to breathe in the soft fresh air. The noticeable variety in each facade; doors, stairs and pergolas numerous and varied, as if you were touring a stage set. The bold and untraditional use of red around the windows and doors. Clearly there is a dynamic and strong aesthetic presence in this home, which at once invigorates and relaxes a guest, challenging your notions of rustic and elegant. How can these opposing concepts possibly come to mind in the same moment? But here you are, happy to have the chance to relax and enjoy the results of a long and thoughtful restoration.
The approach to Podere I Troscioni begins with an unmarked dirt road, passing by trail signs for a wonderful network of delightful woodland walks. The winding road opens gradually to a hectare or so of natural lawn. A clearing of this size is unusual in the woods, on a rise, and explains the name of the house, meaning 'the ponds' for some were left behind by the glacial retreat which created the Apennines. You have climbed to 750 meters, although you would not necessarily think so, ensuring cool evenings suitable for long nights of sleep. There are also exceptional views in each direction as you can clearly see Monte Amiata, Monte Cetona and Radicofani, with its distinctive crenelated Medieval tower. The surrounding trails and old roads for walking and running are often used by local residents searching for mushrooms on a Sunday afternoon.
Podere I Troscioni has inherited diverse creative influences in this latest incarnation; fabric from India, antique furniture from Alto Aldige, locally quarried stone and cotta, objects from Tunisia. The original tower was probably built in the 1500's and used either as a post station or perhaps small hermitage. Current owners have gradually added to the structure so as to accommodate their family and friends, a mix of young and old, artists and entrepreneurs. The house has lots of life in it, expressed in the respect for nature, good quality materials -- often original -- and the derring-do of owners who have spent their life cultivating the bold and the beautiful.
You arrive from the north to a simple facade punched with garnet red windows and various original doors, some rather diminutive. Off to the left is a simple pergola for storing wood. To the west, where the lane of young oak and cypress trees breaks out into the field, the setting sun lights a flame to the honey-warm stone and turns it almost gold. Set off a distance is a large straw-covered pergola for shade. The southern facade is marked by a romantic triangular pergola, hung with intensely sweet red grapes, fat clusters ready for eating in October. Morning and evening are choice times for this lovely spot. Below, a series of stone walls and narrow terraces lead to the soccer field, trimmed with woods. Two large pergolas face due east set for dining and lounging, with working wood 'forno' for pizza-making. A view past potted vines and flowers to the abundant vegetable garden, from which you will enjoy many a meal. Beyond, the lovely pool (12 x 6 meters, stairs) has been lined in a warm stone and sits on a rise above the house, with bamboo pergola plus white canvas umbrella for shade chairs. Marble slab table is set apart and is perfect for enjoyment of the setting sun. Cold shower for rinsing.
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