A house with a story
A boathouse in the middle ages. A cowshed in the 1800’s, and the ruin of a gold dealer in the 90’s this is a house with history. Uninhabited for more than 20 years, it fell into the hands of the current owner, a choosy Wall Street Trader, in the year 2000. Following several years of restoration in 2005 the property had a new name and a new purpose.
Siena House is externally a fine and somewhat unusual example of a historic Tuscan farmhouse style Leopoldina. Named after Leopoldo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany whose design it was, the concept was to house Oxon inside the same building as the farm workers, as well as pigeons – on the roof in a small tower – for food.
After restoration the first floor of the house remains faithful to the original divisions with large open plan living zone and a fireplace central to 4 private corner accommodations. Back in the day over 20 people (5 families) inhabited this floor.
The house is not only a Leopoldina, but also a casa colonica meaning colonised dwelling. The Leopoldina label was likely the result of the restoration of a much older and smaller property, that was probably only a boat house centuries earlier.
At the time of the Etruscans, large parts of Tuscany were under a vast lagoon, and at our location the surrounding land was still under water until the time of Leonardo da Vinci when it was drained for the second time (first time by the Romans). We have been told that even up until the 1940’s some parts of the Val di Chiana could only be reached only by boat. Here at this promontory a land bridge connected the house towards Trequanda and the Orcia Chiana Ridge, but we would have have been encircled by water on three sides. Medieval terracing on the south side of the house is evidence that the landscape has changed considerably.
Malvin had searched for many years for ‘his house’ before buying and one of the most attractive features of this particular property was the huge open spaces on both ground and first floors. Despite the fact that this is a small boutique hotel – of only 5 rooms – it’s not a small property. We have maintained all of the huge open spaces within the property – indeed we have also opened even further, uniting both huge cow stalls on the ground floor to give an immense open plan space with views on all four sides.
Much more than simply a boutique hotel we have allowed the property to remain as a fabulously light and spacious place to be. Windows are also vast as we have enlarged the cow stall ‘windows’ to full window doors and replaced solid barn doors with glass. Light levels and views are magnificent – and unique for Tuscany.
The total interior floor space is 7,000 square feet. If you’re familiar with the visual language of a Tuscan country house then, at a glance, the house might appear ‘smaller’ than it really is – due to its proportions but don’t be deceived, we have far more, larger windows than is typical for a country house.
Located on the historic Tenuta La Fratta organically farmed estate the property has a superb vantage point and views out across a hunting reserve as far as the hills of Trequanda to the South and and on the North as far as the Apenines. We see seven hill top villages from the garden including Montepulciano, Lucignano, Cortona and Sinalunga.
Only the main house is restored, the Smoke House and barn yet to complete, their raw appearance adding to the romance, the untouched feel of the outside, and giving much large areas of shade during the hot summer months.
Known locally as ‘quel casa col quel muro’ – That house with the wall – The property – and particularly the wall that surrounds the property – has a firm place in local folklore Farm properties round these parts just don’t have walls like that. As the previous owner was a gold dealer we can surmise about it’s existence but in any case it’s a great feature as gives privacy and security without disturbing the views. Mostly invisible – the wall is useful to keep out unwanted visitors (such as Wild Boar) and makes parking secure if you want to come in a special motor or leave your windows open.