Sense of Belonging at Villa Lena [Italy]
The road to the hills of Toiano is long and winding, but the beams of pink & crisp orange villas on top are leading your way. There are many bumps, and you can be sure to lose your signal. But I guess that’s exactly the reason why you’d visit Villa Lena.
Secluded amongst 500 hectares of woodland, vineyards and gardens, the complex of 19th century villas used to belong to the Italian aristocrats. When its owner died back in 1931, the property was left destitute. Only until 2007, when the new owners – art curator Lena Evstafieva, music producer Jérôme Hadey and Parisian restaurateur Lionel Bensemoun – decided to bring back its old glory.
Imagined as an art residence & organic agritourism, Villa Lena is not your regular holiday destination – it’s a lot more than that. Journeying through villa’s corridors or lounging in its rooms swamped in classic Tuscany shades – a glass of homemade prosecco rosé in hand – you’re discovering a modern idea of what luxury really is. Serenity, privacy, time – if we are ever to speak of wellness again, we will never fail to mention Villa Lena & its lush gardens.
And of those – there are plenty. From a medieval park of Toiano Vecchio that makes you feel like you’re part of the “Call Me by Your Name” cast to the homegrown vegetable garden where Villa Lena sources most of its food. The San Michele bistro located at the ground floor of the main house infuses the halls with an aroma of freshly baked focaccia and grilled zucchini. The heart put into Villa Lena’s farm-to-table dining concept blends very well with the panoramic views of Tuscany’s hills and sunsets (and wines). Each summer, the owners recruit a new chef-in-residence to bring a diverse interpretation to the local cuisine.
Walking down from the guest house to the artist’s villa, you can peek inside their workrooms where creativity thrives. The residency program operates through Villa Lena Foundation, attracting creators from all over the globe. In fact, the retreat prides in its rich art collection comprising of over 1000 contemporary pieces – all on display, adding a gallery-like feel to the space. And in case you feel like getting creative too, the Villa offers plenty of things to do – from pasta making workshops through yoga to wine tasting.
But sometimes, nothing can’t beat the simple pleasure of plunging into an azure blue pool and sipping on a Rosa Maravillosa cocktail in the rays of Italian sun. And these joys are at hand too. Villa Lena offers a sustainable, self-sustaining ecosystem where guests & artists continue to co-create & redefine it. The felling of joy and relaxation one can derive from this sense of belonging is probably one of the Villa’s most beautiful assets – that will keep you coming back.
Images courtesy of Villa Lena