THE BEDROOM THAT BELONGED TO THE GRAND DUKE
THE HISTORY OF THE ROOM CREATED AT FATTORIA DEL COLLE, FOR THE ROMANTIC ENCOUNTERS OF THE GRAND DUKE OF TUSCANY PIETRO LEOPOLDO WITH HIS LOVER ISABELLA. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SLEEP IN IT?
Peter Leopold Joseph Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard von Habsburg-Lothringen was born in Vienna in 1847 and became Grand Duke of Tuscany at the age of eighteen in 1865. He left my region in 1890 to become Emperor of Austria and died in Vienna two years later. Her sister Marie Antoinette was the Queen of France guillotined during the revolution and another sister, Maria Carolina, reigned in Naples.
PIETRO LEOPOLDO GREAT SOVEREIGN AND GREAT WOMANIZER
His wife Maria Luisa of Bourbon was the daughter of the King of Spain and bore him 16 children, creating a family that, in the eyes of the Austrians, was too boisterous and disorderly.
The two had married in Innsbruck when Peter Leopold, who was initially destined for priesthood, had to ascend the grand ducal throne of Tuscany due to the death of his brother Charles. Since he was a child, he showed a particular interest in science and innovations. Inclinations which, arriving in Florence at a very young age, were developed through contact with a group of naturalists and scientists, to the point of making him the prototype of the “enlightened monarch” and of the small state of Tuscany, an avant-garde country. We owe him the fact that Tuscany was the first nation to abolish the death penalty and torture with a new Penal Code, the first to establish a centre for agricultural studies, at the Accademia dei Georgofili. Pietro Leopoldo promoted an impressive number of reforms in the economic, fiscal, agricultural, educational, health fields…..
THE DRAINING OF THE VALDICHIANA MARSHES AND THE MEETING WITH ISABELLA
He was an excellent head of state but also an incurable womanizer.
Our story concerns the period of the draining of the Valdichiana, an enormous swamp formed during the barbarian invasions when the hydraulic structure, created first by the Etruscans and then by the Romans, had been abandoned. Leonardo Da Vinci had been the first to study the problem at the beginning of the sixteenth century, designing a navigable canal that linked Pisa to the Trasimeno.
The project was never carried out and it was Pietro Leopoldo who, only in 1782, drained the Chianina swamp with the help of the naturalist lawyer Vittorio Fossombroni.
During his visits to this immense site, the Grand Duke met the Countess Isabella Martinozzi. This passion of love led him to dangerous actions and he fell into a torrent. Even the scarce privacy of the meetings was a source of scandal and a pamphlet entitled “The Lady Pilgrim” was published, which the grand-ducal police seized and destroyed. Then the owners of the Fattoria del Colle which, through the woods connect to her castle – Montelifrè – were asked to create a refuge where the two lovers could meet in the utmost privacy. And the Grand Duke’s bedroom was built.
THE GRAND DUKE’S BEDROOM AS IT WAS AND AS IT IS TODAY
Luckily then the passion died down and Pietro Leopoldo returned to his government posts and to other gallant enterprises.
Of the Grand Duke’s passion remains a large bedroom with a beautiful panorama, which is used for the honeymoon of couples who get married at Fattoria del Colle and for the most demanding guests. The furniture created for Pietro Leopoldo no longer exists because my great-grandfather Livio Socini used this room as a dining room, so the current furniture is from my grandmother, Lelia Socini’s bedroom , who had them made by Corsini, the best Sienese cabinetmaker of the early twentieth century. A painted decoration on the ceiling is also from that period and depicts all the Tuscan birds – from the blackcap to the hoopoe – and all the farms of the property, which great-grandfather Livio then divided between his daughters Lelia and Maria.
Originally the Grand Duke’s room was heated by a brazier, today it has air conditioning, as well as a bathroom and Wi-Fi, but no television. The mirrors are still those oxidized by time. In short, there are changes, but they do not alter that aura of mystery and intimacy that makes sleeping in this room extraordinary.
So staying at Fattoria del Colle is like entering Tuscan history. A tale of nobles, peasants, loves, persecutions …. Which makes this place different and remarkable.