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“When we fix our gaze on the distant horizon, so contained and tranquil, the vexations and discord of the present are forgotten and when the sweetness of the reawakening earth takes us by surprise each year all discouragement melts away and we are inundated by the love which binds us to the land.” Maria-Bianca Viviani Della Robbia – A Farm in Chianti

These words, written over five decades ago by the woman who owned Villa Le Barone, speak of her passion and commitment to this land.  It was her love and relentless dedication to modernizing, while preserving, an agricultural way of life that was in peril of disappearing from the Tuscan landscape that gifts us today with an unforgettable country experience.  As I sit in this tranquil garden, amid the scent of laurel, rosemary and flowering rose bushes, I am filled with admiration for a woman I did not know, and with gratitude for her unflinching courage in meeting the challenges of a farming life in a changing world.

There is no doubt that Ville Le Barone has always been a special place, but it is wasn’t always an inn.  In 1974, Duchess Franca Visconti who inherited the property from her mother, made the difficult decision to sell the farm and most of the land to undertake a project that would carry the villa into the next century.  Like her mother, Duchess Visconti was a woman of vision and dedicated passion.   She saw the potential for tourism to the region and in 1976 she opened Villa le Barone as a hotel.  The original inn consisted of nine bedrooms and five bathrooms.  Over the following decades, the other farm buildings were transformed, creating a total of 28 rooms, all with en suite bathrooms, numerous intimate sitting rooms, a delightful restaurant, and multiple garden terraces and a swimming pool.  There are no televisions.  

And as we enjoy the fruits of Franca’s vision and limitless efforts in transforming the “farm” into an elegant inn, we owe thanks to the current heirs, Count and Countess Aloisi de Larderel, who maintain her dream of hospitality while always expanding and improving. With equal amounts of poetry and purpose, three women have made of Villa Le Barone a “home” in a landscape that embraces the soul.

“But here, in the slow rhythm of hours spent alone, we may unhurriedly re-assess and fairly examine past and present and thus seek balance and proportion in our lives.”  Maria-Bianca Viviani Della Robbia – A Farm in Chianti

September 2013

All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson

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Villa Le Barone Hotel

Via San Leolino, 19, Pieve di Panzano, Greve in Chianti ~ Tuscany, Italy

View from Villa Le Barone Hotel ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson

View from Villa Le Barone Hotel ~ Original watercolor painting by Ginda Simpson