FATTORIA DEL COLLE A TREASURE CHEST OF VALUES TO PRESERVE
Tradition, history, nature, craftsmanship … Fattoria del Colle in the most panoramic and intact Tuscan countryside is dedicated to the preservation of these values
As some people may already know, I am an art historian who has become a grape grower. For this reason I take the liberty of writing a little note on the concept of conservation and restoration. It is a very ancient practice but until the mid-twentieth century the works of art – especially paintings and architecture – were integrated with ruined parts and “updated” with respect to the fashion. In other words, they were “embellished” but substantially falsified. Cesare Brandi was the father of modern restoration that must not << commit an artistic forgery or a historical forgery, and without erasing all traces of the passage of the work of art over time >> in other words, conservation must safeguard the integrity of the works.
TOO MUCH RESTORATION FALSIFIES
In painting, the concept of “conservative” restoration has been unanimously accepted, in construction, no. The farmhouse becomes a villa with architectural interventions aimed at accentuating the luxury. Certain stereotypes condition to the point of leading to “postcard” choices which, in Tuscany, make the fake- aged terracotta flooring seem real and the authentic one from the nineteenth-century grit seem less typical. A game of shadows that leads to results of great beauty, as in the Apulian farms, or creates new styles of ancient inspiration as in the Costa Smeralda by Luigi Vietti, Jacques and Savin Couelle and Michele Busiri Vici.
But the result is different from the traditional one of the area.
FATTORIA DEL COLLE A TREASURE CHEST OF VALUES TO BE PRESERVED
At Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda. When my father Fausto gave it to me in 1998 it was in poor condition and had undergone minor superficial restorations, accumulating many debts.
Faced with these problems, there was the overall integrity of a place still capable of telling its own story including good times and bad times. This had an incredible charm. In the manger used by the vet as an infirmary for sick beasts, I found an amulet of a pre-Christian deity and the remains of the gig with which the farmer moved around at the beginning of the twentieth century. In front of the villa I discovered a park submerged by brambles , just like the castle in Sleeping Beauty.
Restoring the roofs, I found the bell, that the housewives rang with a rope , hidden in the clock, when the house was attacked by brigands … .. The sixteenth-century chapel, the Italian garden, the eighteenth-century arches …. During the first restorations I felt like I was experiencing a huge treasure hunt. I decided to proceed as previous generations had done: following the criteria of respect, measure and usefulness. The dialogue with the architect Guido Canali who, since 1992, had been restoring the Monumental Complex of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena was very useful to me. He told me << do not remove the bad parts, the offenses of time, the marks left by poor periods…. Otherwise it all seems fake >>.
THE SUBTLE CHARM OF THE PAST THROUGH ITS TRACES
A piece of advice that horrified the masons and that I too welcomed with some discomfort. Why do the restorations if everything still seems to be in ruins? Twenty years later, I understand how this choice given “voice” to the walls that still today know how to tell their story of nobility and abandonment.
All subsequent choices are in the same spirit: the replacement of industrial furniture with small local antiques in the country inn apartments. The collection of local recipes from old housewives. The vegetable garden with Tuscan wild herbs for the restaurant salads. The recovery of grape varieties abandoned for over a century like in the Cenerentola wine … Obviously there are also new buildings such as the extension of the cellar completed last year. They are not ancient; the reinforced concrete is clearly visible but around them there are the silhouettes of the Tuscan winter oaks made of Corten
FATTORIA DEL COLLE BECOMES THE PLACE WHERE TO STAY AS IF IT WERE THE HOME OF TUSCAN GRANDPARENTS
My inspiring criterion is respect for the past and for the real needs of current living. Local materials, local artisans, local style. No ostentation and a great ethical sense.
For a while, these choices penalized us. Farmhouses with air conditioning in all rooms were preferred by agencies and VIP tourists. I put air conditioning in the wine areas but most of the bedrooms only have ceiling fans. The traditional homemade tarts and pies weren’t the croissants from the bar…. Then these choices started to become an advantage. We have become a place of authentic experiences where respect for traditions is also experienced through the craftsmanship and intimacy of small things.
And I’m happy with it. I am also happy to share this little ancient world with tourists who come from all over the world to live as if in the home of their Tuscan grandparents.