The property of Chiarentana, consisting in a large fortified fortress and five scattered farmhouses, overlooks the Val d'Orcia, a beautiful and miraculously intact valley in Southern Tuscany and the extinct vulcano of Monte Amiata. It was part of the La Foce estate when Antonio and Iris Origo bought it in 1924, in a state of severe destitution. Through their lifelong and passionate joint efforts, however, the new owners brought about a miraculous transformation of the land and of the conditions of the people living on it.
At their death, La Foce was divided into two estates by their daughters. Now the new Chiarentana estate is run by Donata.
Halfway between Florence and Rome, it is also within easy reach of Siena, Arezzo, Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto. Renaissance and medieval gems such as Pienza, Montepulciano, Monticchiello and Montalcino are only a few miles away. The countryside abounds in lovely walks among woods and the characteristic "crete senesi"; the food is among the best in Tuscany and famous wines such as the Vino Nobile and Brunello can be tasted in the local cellars and restaurants.
The central Chiarentana building was once a medieval castle that gave shelter to pilgrims on their way to visit the pope in Rome. Six independent ex-farmhouses overlook the Val d'Orcia.
Since its inception, the Chiarentana estate has focused on two main activities:
1. production of the highest quality olive oil ((see "Chiarentana olive oil" on this website);
2. rentals of beautifully appointed holiday homes with magnificent views of the Val d'Orcia and the ancient volcano Monte Amiata (see "Rentals" on this website)
New olive groves with particular varieties of olive trees now surround the main building, while extensive wheat and hay fields cover the rolling hills leading down to the valley. In the midst of these hills are some of the few remaining wild areas of the "crete senesi", the clay hills depicted in the Sienese paintings from the 13th and 14th centuries. These areas are now the home of wild boar, roebuck, porcupines and hares, as well as rare forms of orchids, dog-roses, prickly pear and broom.
The renovation of the main building was one of the Origo's first endeavours, to provide improved lodging to tenant farmers, their families and their livestock. After the end of the mezzadria, Donata transformed the rather severe and gaunt building into her home, a cheerful and welcoming place surrounded by a garden with lavender, roses, rosemary and cistus, which extends and blends into the surrounding landscape.
The six apartments for holiday rentals surround an ancient paved courtyard shaded by an old linden tree. There is a large garden with secluded corners for each apartment, a pool, a tennis court and a children's playground. The apartments are an ideal setting for family reunions, groups and courses, with a separate central restaurant for guests. Delicious fresh meals are served indoors during the colder months, and in the shade of the linden tree or in the candle-lit courtyard in summer. Oil-tasting dinners with specially paired recipes are served once a week.
Now Donata's house can also be rented. It is entirely separate from the rental apartments, and has its own garden and pool.
Three farmhouses, each one with its own pool and garden, complete the Chiarentana rental houses.
Activities include cooking lessons, spectacular hikes in the woods and the characteristic clay hills, tennis, a common room which can be used as a Wifi/TV and video room. WIFI is accessible from every apartment.
Many other activities, ranging from guided sightseeing tours, riding lessons, wine and oil tasting, advice and booking for restaurants can be arranged by Benedetta Isidori, the rental manager for both estates.