“Luxury and fine wine blend and Hospitality at Vignamaggio in Chianti”
In Tuscany, hemmed into the hills above Greve, between Florence and Siena, a Renaissance villa that was once Mona Lisa’s family home, has been transformed into a swish hotel and organic farm, with Chianti Classico vineyards, olive groves, vegetable gardens, and a long fine wine pedigree.
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In 2014, architect and garden designer, 65-year-old Patrice Taravella, bought the Villa Rinascimentale (Renaissance villa), and grounds, and has begun restoring them to their former glories.
Born to Italian parents in Falaise, Normandy, Taravella studied architecture at the Beaux Arts in Paris. For twenty years, he worked on projects such as theatres, schools and commercial malls, before aiming his skills at a different concept : the garden-farm-hotel. He created the Prieure d’Orsan monastic kitchen garden in France’s Berry region as well as Babylonstoren Wine Estate in the Cape Winelands of South Africa, designed to integrated the best organic practices with medieval-tapestry-inspired walled gardens.
Ariel View of Vignamaggio
“The moment I saw Vignamaggio I fell in love with it,” he said. “Its position in the middle of forests near the source of the Greve River, the 1926 Sanminiatelli garden, box hedges, Lecci (holms) and 300-year-old cypress trees as seen in Sir Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 Much Ado About Nothing, the region’s long gardening culture and the estate’s proximity to Florence airport were the main reason to invest money and time in it.”
One of Tuscany’s oldest farming estates (originally called Prenzano), Vignamaggio has been making wine since 1404. The Gherardini Family moved from their Montagliari castle over the valley to Vignamagio in 1421 and lived there until 1831. The famous Mona Lisa was born in Via Maggio, Florence, in 1479, and Vignamaggio was the14th-century home of her ancestors.
Art historian Georgio Vasari identified Monna Lisa del Giocondo, née Lisa Gherardini and daughter of Anton Maria dio Noldo Gherardini, as the subject of Leodardo da VInci’s now well-known painting, Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Louvre Museum of Paris. Vignamaggio also makes a wine named after the famous Florentine.
A couple conversing at Vignamaggio
The Pool at Vignamaggio has stunning Chianti views
If you’re in search of the perfect place for a large family reunion, milestone celebration, or a romantic escape to the Italian countryside, you’ll be hard pressed to top Vignamaggio.
Accommodations at Vignamaggio will suit a party of any size, and spread cross the property. Among them are the 21-room Pensione, each lovingly- appointed room depicts one of Italian author and poet Giovani Bocaccio’s love stories.
Four dwellings and a shared garden and pool have 11-rooms between them at Il Prato, a peaceful compound within the Vignamaggio estate. At its heart is the six-bedroom modernized farmhouse, with spacious living room and outdoor covered terrace. Nearby is a cottage with elegant lounge and two en-suite bedrooms. A smaller but no less stylish house has two bedrooms and a bath, as well as a lovely outdoor patio and balcony. Last but not least is Il Prato’s one-bedroom studio, full of light and charm.
Il Casolese, casulae in Latin, refers to these two stone farmhouses with 9 bedrooms between them, which share a garden and pathways that lead to a tranquil pool.
The main villa rooms are currently being refurbished.
One of the Lounges at Vignamaggio
The villa is just a 10 minute drive to the lively market town of Greve-in-Chianti, where you can find cafés, restaurants and shops. The tiny hamlet of Lamole has glorious views, while Chianti’s pretty hilltop towns, historic fortifications, abbeys and churches, and some of Italy’s best wineries are within 30 minutes of Vignamaggio.
Of course, you could be perfectly happy if you never left Vignamaggio or its 62 hectares of vines, 5000 olive trees, 12 hectares of orchards and loads of walking paths.
“Our motto is – per bello il giorno – to make your day beautiful. It encapsulates Vignamaggio, not only as a place but something to be experienced”, said Taravella,
Be Seeing You In: Tuscany
Good to know: You can book a wine tour and tasting, even if you’re not staying at the hotel.
WOW! Factor: The property can plan the most beautiful bespoke weddings.
Tip: Browse their Instagram page for some dolce vita inspiration.
Author bio:Kevin Pilley