About our Villa in Chianti, Podere Patrignone, and its history
Podere Patrignone, the basics
Podere Patrignone is a beautiful historic 14th Century (possibly even older) farm estate or 'podere' which has been lovingly and tastefully restored. Patrignone is set on top of its own hill reached by a long, winding private road through 150 acres of forest, olives and vines, with uninterrupted 360-degree views over the Tuscan landscape and valley below.
It is the perfect setting for peaceful walks, sunbathing, cycling and exploring. It has a lovely pool with one of the best vistas in Tuscany, and a peaceful Koi pond surrounded by cypress trees that keep it shaded and cool. It also has the large Terracotta Terrace where you sit out, enjoy a glass of Vernaccia or a meal, and watch the amazing sunset over the towers of San Gimignano and the snow-capped Apennines on the horizon.
Today Patrignone is run by me (Simon) and Verity, ably assisted by our three kids, the two pedigree mutts, and Tinker the cat. Oh, and the chickens. We took the business over in September 2007 from my mother Carla, who still helps out in the kitchen and the garden, and we have been doing our very best to maintain the high standards she has set since the beginning, and to keep the magic of Patrignone intact.
A bit of history
Parts of Patrignone are really, really old. We think some of the beams are 14th Century or possibly even older. The house would have been added to room by room as the tenant farmers ('contadini') working the land needed the space for children, their children, elderly parents and so on.
We don't know a huge amount about what happened here pre-2nd World War, but we do know a little of what happened during the war and after.
Here is a copy of our latest newsletter in case you'd like to hear what's been happening over the last few months.
A recent history of our restored Villa in Tuscany
The house and land were bought by my mother Carla back in 1985, long before the Tuscan land rush. She was originally born near Bologna and moved to the UK when she was 14, but moved back to Italy when the kids had fled the nest, and began this enormous project.
When she found the house it was in a terrible state. Many of the roofs had collapsed and been looted for precious terracotta tiles, and much of the structure was seriously weakened. The house had been derelict for many years, and locals had been 'recycling' stone, tiles, beams etc. for their own homes and buildings. Better than letting good materials go to waste...it's a shame modern construction doesn´t do the same.
Only one small part of the house was habitable: Caminetto. Apart from some minor cosmetic alterations it (though not to the famous chimney), it looks much like it did back then. Except that it had only one tiny bathroom, no running (or flushing) water, and a very leaky roof. But it was a start, and when we kids used to come and visit, we would be sleeping 4 to a room, and there was usually someone on the beaten-up old couch too. As there was no running water, we used to take it in turns to drive 10 minutes towards Castellina where there was a natural spring where we could fill our containers.
Bit by bit the place took shape, one roof at a time, one room at a time. But it wasn't until the early 90's that any part of Patrignone was suitable for guests.
It has been a long hard journey for Carla and Patrignone, but without all that hard work we wouldn't have this Tuscan paradise that we have today.
Now Carla has handed over the reins to us and is taking a 'non-exec' role in the venture. We hope we can achieve half as much as she has done. We'll give it our best shot.
Our long-term plans include:
- Further restoration of the agricultural land to help deliver more organic produce, possibly even our own organic wine
- Investment in renewable energy and water conservation measures - see Our Eco-Values
- Restoration of some of the ancient terracing and dry-stone walls
- Creation of more nature walks through the forests
- Turning Patrignone into a nature reserve, and building some nature-observation platforms in the trees
- Building more fun stuff for kids, including more tree-houses, swings etc.
We´ll let you know how we get on...