When Iris and Antonio Origo came to the Val d’Orcia, Chiarentana was one of the many farms on the La Foce estate, in fact certainly the largest, with over seven families and their livestock living around its square central courtyard.
Its history goes back to the early Middle Ages, when it was one of the many small castles where pilgrims would stop on their way to Rome on the via Francigena. Emperor Otto I is said to have stopped there himself on his way to visit the Pope in the second half of the10th century.
During the 14th century Chiarentana became one of the first Communes, with its own statute, complete with a singular set of laws and punishments.
Thereafter the fortunes of Chiarentana followed those of its neighbors – a downhill story of war and devastation, poverty and degradation.
In 1924 when the Origos bought the property of La Foce it was in conditions of severe destitution. Through their lifelong and passionate joint efforts they succeeded in bringing progress and social change to this poverty-ridden land, leading to a miraculous transformation of the conditions of the people living on it. La Foce became a bustling prosperous farm, reforestation and water management prevented the erosion which had ravaged the land for centuries, farmland was reclaimed from the expanses of clay hillocks, dams were built for irrigation purposes, roads were made, schools annihilated the prevailing illiteracy, basic health services were provided to all. La Foce was considered a model estate, and as such was spared the land reform that broke up most large properties in the 50s.
Upon their death La Foce was divided into two properties by the Origo daughters: the Chiarentana estate is run by Donata.
The Val d’Orcia has recently been included among the World Heritage sites by UNESCO.