Renewable energy, geothermal energy

April 13, 2018  |  Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Renewable energy, geothermal energy

Geothermal springs in Sasso PisanoTuscany in roman maps

Do you know that geothermal energy supplies almost 30% of the electricity consumed in Tuscany? And do you know that this source of energy is renewable and emits very little CO2 (a greenhouse gas leading to climate change), when power stations transform it into electricity? If you stay in Villa le Barone or in Vecchienna, you will be able to discover the sources of geothermal energy in Tuscany!

The geothermal zones around Larderello, Monterotondo Marittimo, Sasso Pisano and Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina are to be visited: you will discover new landscapes, with lagoons, fumaroles, small geysers, warm waters. You can also visit the very interesting museum in the village of Larderello, which tells the history of geothermal energy since Antiquity.

Evidence of geothermal activity dates back to the Greco-Etruscan-Roman era, and Etruscan and Roman baths have been found in Sasso Pisano, where Vecchienna is located. They appear on a Roman military map of the 3rd century. Baths and hot springs in the region were also used in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The industrial use of hot springs began in the early 19th century under the leadership of François de Larderel, a Frenchman who developed techniques for extracting boric acid from geothermal fumes. This product was once used as a food preservative. It is also François de Larderel who gave his name to the small city of “Larderello”, as he was the young entrepreneur to develop the region. Later in 1904 Prince Ginori Conti used the pressure of geothermal vapors for the first time to make electricity.

Museum in Larderello: geothermal energy produces electricity

The first power station was then built in 1913. This whole story is described in the very didactic museum of Larderello. Tuscany is certainly the cradle of the use of geothermal energy, but it is also exploited in many other parts of the world. A book recently published by Raffaele Cataldi and Mario César Suàrez Arriaga tells the long relationship between humanity and geothermal energy in the world.

If you stay in Vecchienna, our farm in Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, you can discover geothermal energy, fumaroles, geysers, you can also visit the Museum of Larderello and swim in the hot springs of Sasso Pisano. And Larderello is only 1h30 from Villa le Barone.

Panzano in Chianti, a charming medieval Tuscan village

March 31, 2018  |  Chianti Holidays, Culture and Art, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Panzano in Chianti, a charming medieval Tuscan village

Panzano in Chianti: San Leolino church viewed from Villa le Barone

Panzano in Chianti, a charming Tuscan medieval village located exactly between Florence and Siena, must be discovered, with its churches, its vineyards and cellars, its market, its typical shops, its festivals, its craftsmen, its protected environment and the beauty of its landscapes. Panzano is located in the heart of the “Chianti Classico”, with famous producers of these wines known around the world.

Coming from Florence, after crossing Greve in Chianti, the road to Panzano rises slowly in the countryside, offering beautiful perspectives on the Chianti hills, olive groves and vineyards … and then it’s the arrival on the main square, Piazza Bucciarelli, with its shops, restaurants, bar, florist, fountain … Every Sunday the market takes place on this square. This is where one can find fruits and vegetables, cheeses, roast chicken, kitchenware… Every first Sunday of the month, the market (then called “aprilante”) is enriched by the presence of artisans who offer their products. The small street, to the right of the square, lined with old houses, rises towards the center of Panzano, the castle and towards the church of Santa Maria Assunta, completely rebuilt in the 19th century on the site of the old medieval church. On the left of the square, a small street, with the indication Barone, rises slowly, bordered on the left by the houses painted in white and red stripes where the famous butcher Dario Cecchini operates. You can enter the butcher shop, drink a glass of Chianti and take part in the friendly atmosphere of the shop.

Continuing along this street, you can see Mr Papini’s shop on the right, where you will find seeds, bedding plants, fertilizers … and everything for the garden. The cave of Ali Baba! Continue straight, turn right towards Hotel Villa le Barone at one kilometer. You can enter and discover the beautiful gardens! Continue a little further, you find an oratory and following the dirt road on the right, the beautiful Romanesque church Pieve di San Leolino, to which a porch was added in the 16th century. Do not miss the magnificent tabernacles of Andrea Della Robbia, and the paintings of the 16th century. Feel also free to push the door on the right after the baptismal font leading to the adjacent small cloister. What a charm! If you go back on the SS 222 road and continue towards Siena, on the right you will find the indication of the Oratory of Sant’ Eufrosino, with the spring near which the Saint who evangelized the Chianti lived.

Panzano in Chianti: Dario Cecchini’s butcher shop

Festivals and events are numerous in Panzano in Chianti, and in particular the feast of the “Buona stagione” on April 25, that of the “Colombina” at Easter, the wine festival “Vino al Vino” in September…. Moreover, Panzano is located in the heart of the “Chianti Classico” region, where wines known worldwide are produced. You can visit many cellars and enjoy delicious wine tastings: Le Fonti, Molino di Grace, Fontodi and Castello di Rampolla … to name only a few.

One cannot be tired of admiring the protected environment and the wonderful landscapes that surround this charming typical medieval Tuscan village, Panzano in Chianti.

The Della Robbia Family in Florence and Panzano in Chianti

February 23, 2018  |  Culture and Art, Florence, Tuscany  |  Comments Off on The Della Robbia Family in Florence and Panzano in Chianti

Panzano in Chianti -Pieve di San Leolino- Tabernacle by Giovanni Della Robbia

The Della Robbia Family, Florentine sculptors and ceramists, have left an important footprint in Tuscan Renaissance art. Their superb works, and in particular glazed terracotta, can be seen in Florence and many other places in Tuscany. There are two tabernacles in Panzano in Chianti, in the San Leolino church. Villa le Barone is a former Della Robbia property, now transformed in a boutique hotel and managed by their heirs.

Luca Della Robbia, born in early 15th century, was a sculptor at the beginning of his career, and one of his first work, “the Cantoria”, can be seen at the Museo del Duomo in Florence. But he soon invented and developed the superb technique of glazed terracotta, also called majolica, giving to his ceramics beautiful shiny colors that were resistant to outdoors conditions. His nephew Andrea worked in his workshop and took over it at his uncle’s death in 1482. Andrea’s sons Giovanni and Girolamo continued his work and added many new colors to the simple polychrome works that the Della Robbia Family had produced earlier. Color became their primary focus and sculpture took the second place. Their work became more and more realistic.

Panzano in Chianti -Pieve di San Leolino- Tabernacle by Giovanni Della Robbia

The Della Robbia’s workshop was a very successful enterprise that developed many types of glazed terracotta products: liturgical items, such as tabernacles, baptismal fonts, altars… but also works made for use in private homes. Works were commissioned or bought from stock. Molds enabled the workshop to replicate popular models with consistent quality, and also to vary them by adding details before firing. The Della Robbia had a catalogue, enabling them to sell not only in Florence but also all over Europe.

You can see many of the Della Robbia’s work in the Bargello museum In Florence, but also strolling through the city you will come across many of their public works on or in highly visible and significant buildings in the city, including the Cathedral, the church of Santa Croce, the exterior of San Michele, Santa Maria Novella square.

The San Leolino church in Panzano in Chianti, which you can admire from Villa le Barone’s gardens, holds two Giovanni Della Robbia tabernacles.

A charming Villa in the countryside near Florence, on the golf Ugolino

February 16, 2018  |  Tuscany  |  Comments Off on A charming Villa in the countryside near Florence, on the golf Ugolino

Tuscany Villa il Rough designed by Tomaso Buzzi, on the Ugolino Golf

Next to the Ugolino golf course, close to Florence, yet in the countryside, Villa il Rough is not a Villa like the traditional Tuscan villas. It is a charming Villa, built by Tomaso Buzzi, a famous architect, companion of Gio Ponti. Located in the middle of a large garden, looking on the Ugolino golf course, with all the comforts, it has 3 bedrooms, a large living room, a large dining room, an office, a semi underground basement. It can accommodate 6 to 7 people.

Villa Il Rough, in the municipality of Impruneta, is just 10 km (7.5 miles) from Florence, on the road from Florence to Siena (Statale 222). It is regularly served by a bus, for those who do not want to use their car to go to Florence.

This Villa is not a traditional Tuscan Villa, but it is full of charm and light. It was built for the Duchess Visconti by Tomaso Buzzi, a famous architect who was a companion of the famous Gio Ponti, both of the avant-garde magazine “Domus”.Tomaso Buzzi built the “Scarzuola” a fantastic place, a stone “folly” located in the countryside of Montegabbione, in the province of Terni, and that can still be visited.

Villa il Rough is a very bright house, open to the outside, with a beautiful terrace, a shady veranda where you can relax or dine. It has three double bedrooms, all tastefully decorated, each with its own bathroom. In the living room a sofa and two comfortable chairs are installed in front of the fireplace. The dining room, adjoining the fully equipped kitchen, is round like a pigeon loft. Notice the thatched roof covering this part of the Villa! There is also an office, with a sofa, where one can watch television.

Tuscany Villa il Rough on the Ugolino golf course the lounge

There is also a basement, opening on the back of the house, in which a large games and sports room has been installed, with a small bathroom.
Villa il Rough is located in a large garden with many flowers, olive trees, pines. A large oak welcomes the visitor.

To the north, there is a view of the Apennine Mountains, to the east on a beautiful Renaissance villa, to the west on the vineyards and olive groves, and to the south on the Chianti hills and golf greens. The Ugolino golf course, 18 holes, was founded in 1933 and was designed by two specialized British architects, Blandford and Gannon. This golf has a club house and a swimming pool and accepts visitors for “green fees”.

Villa Il Rough can be rented for a minimum of two weeks or more. The house is indeed ideal for golfers who also want to spend vacations in Tuscany, but also for people wishing to spend a sabbatical year in Tuscany, or coming to work there for a year or two.

For more information contact


Vecchienna an historical hamlet in Maremma

February 10, 2018  |  Tuscany  |  Comments Off on Vecchienna an historical hamlet in Maremma

Vecchienna Tuscany Maremma an ADSI property

Why not spend vacations in Vecchienna, in its Podere San Florestano/ Rosmarino and Ciclamino , a listed historic hamlet in “Maremma” in Tuscany, just between the provinces of Pisa, Grosetto and Siena? Maremma is still a little known part of Tuscany, with many natural reserves and parks as well as wonderful hilltops medieval villages, where you can practice and enjoy a lot of activities!

Vecchienna is a listed historic property, member of ADSI, the Italian Association of Historic Mansion. It has been built by François de Larderel, an early entrepreneur coming from France, and who designed the process to extract boric acid, that had many industrial uses at that time, from the fumes coming from the soil. He gave his name to a nearby city, Larderello, where a museum can be visited explaining the most interesting story of this geothermal energy region. Vecchienna, an 800 hectares estate just between the provinces of Pisa, Grosetto and Siena is mostly covered with forest (chestnuts, oaks, and pine trees), but it also produces extra virgin olive oil and raises free range cattle.

Views on the hills and sunsets are stupendous! It is at 35 minutes from the sea, where one can enjoy swimming, sailing and wind surf, and at 10 minutes Sasso Pisano offers a natural hot pool and a “biolake”. There are great hiking and cycling opportunities. But there is also a lot of small hilltops villages to discover such as Pomarance, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Suvereto, and larger cities such as Massa Marittima or Livorno…The area was populated since the Etruscan times, and archaeology’s lovers will be able to visit the nearby Etruscan- Greek -Roman thermal baths, and on the sea shore, the Popolonia and Baratti National Archaeological Park.

Vecchienna Podere San Florestano Tuscany Maremma

And lovers of Italian cuisine can discover the specialties and wines of the Maremma in the many typical trattorias!
One former farm ( “Podere “ in Italian) belonging to Veccchienna, San Florestano, San Giuseppe and Ciclamino, has been restored and offers a wonderful possibility to spend amazing vacations, discovering astounding Maremma ! This Podere can host 15 people in 7 large bedrooms. The space can be divided in 2 units, hosting respectively 8 and 7 people, each one having its own large kitchen and its own loggia equipped to rest or eat outside watching the magnificent sunsets and the landscape.

There is a swimming pool. For more information contact