Val d'Orcia, Tuscany
550 square meters indoor
Villa d'Orcia is breathtaking. Broad and strong, it embodies the surrounding land taking the shape of an exceptional accommodation. The references in the architecture, coloring and appointments are numerous; Giotto, villas of Michelangelo, colors of the Crete Senesi through every season, rusted vases, and changing wildflowers from the surrounding wheat fields. Despite the grounding in history and tradition, the talented owners live very much in the present. Each detail reflects absolutely a modern design sensibility and an unwillingness to sacrifice convenience or comfort to outmoded ideas of living. Everything about the house is designed for ease of use, for flexibility of need and for the complete enjoyment of place.
Villa d'Orcia is progeny of the storied La Foce created by Iris Origo in the early decades of the last century. A painting the owner once saw captures Villa d'Orcia in the 18th century when it was a simple farmhouse for several families who worked a living out of the dense indentations of the surrounding Crete Senesi. Then came the transformation of the Crete into smooth rounded fields given over to the growing of grain for bread to feed a poor nation. The landscape became open, in a sense, and vastly more productive. Later on, the increasing success of La Foce brought the reconstruction of simple farmhouses. And then the War and a period of devastation and neglect. Villa d'Orcia is born of this history, reclaimed and re-envisioned to take full advantage of the astonishing beauty of the land and the enduring appeal of life in the Tuscan countryside.
While it had more humble beginnings, Villa d'Orcia has been reborn as more villa than farmhouse. The squared off, unbroken facades of the house, with its rough stucco finish the color of wet sand, and the pietra serena colored banding around the windows suggest the Renaissance. The base of the exterior walls is somewhat flared to settle the house on its hillside. The corners of the house are then drawn out by the addition of low stone walls, the color of the Crete and the fields in summer. The walls define a flat broad lawn completely counter to the ceaseless contours of the Crete, but evidencing the human hand.
The open landscape of the Val d'Orcia makes for exceptional panoramas. Villa d'Orcia makes the most of this good fortune. Astride a hill east to west, the front lawn extends to the south like an apron. The long narrow heated pool (20 x 5 meters) with its jet stream and vanishing edge, seems almost to be pouring itself onto the fields and farms below. A lower terrace along the west edge of the house protects the well-organized and well-kept vegetable garden from the ceaseless breeze, and provides an alternate view for those enjoying the hot tub (with jets). A circular drive and gated entrance from the east facilitates the moving of luggage and groceries, with a walled and shaded car-park below so the views from all sides of the house are unblemished. The list of visible landmarks reads much like a Tuscan itinerary; Monte Amiata, Monte Cetona, Radicofani, Pienza, Montalcino, Rocca d'Orcia, Contignano and Chiarentana.
Tucked into the thick spine of the L-shaped house is the outdoor living. Two broad terraces paved with old stones reclaimed from Arezzo's piazza in Arezzo are bisected by a wide, uncovered staircase to the first floor. One forms an outdoor living room with casual seating under umbrellas. The second is the outdoor dining room, also under umbrellas. A narrow raised bed is planted for color and fragrance. Close by is the outdoor fireplace for grilling in the ancient Tuscan tradition and fashioned from thick slabs of pietra serena. The sink is wide and shallow and ancient. A series of iron framed double doors leads to the gathering rooms of the ground floor.
Villa d'Orcia is the work of an energetic, visionary couple. One is a designer with an emerging reputation for a line of contemporary furniture and accessories. She selected a palette of earth tones represented in the immediate surroundings of Villa d'Orcia - from sage green, grey and ivory through wheat and sand to taupe to terra cotta and rust. Pickled wood floors and beamed ceilings reflect the cool end of the spectrum. Old cotta-tiled floors and bricked vaulted ceilings introduce the deeper tones. Fabrics extend this range to include champagne, the red-orange of poppies, and the deep pink of sulla. Textured fabrics thick with shades of garnet and uncut amethyst bring greater definition to each room. Each bathroom is fitted with handmade marble vessel sinks in a variety of stones. Wall-mounted, stone-framed mirrors are used throughout the house - in living room, stairwells and bathrooms - to amplify and reflect the stupendous views from each and every window. The house feels like a true Tuscan villa, a place of great luxury well-placed in an ancient land.
Price information available upon request.
Homebase Abroad, Ltd.
Two Hooper Street
Marblehead, MA 01945
Phone: (781) 639-4040
Fax: (781) 639-3050
© May 2013 by Homebase Abroad, Ltd. All rights reserved.
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