Abbadia d'Ombrone

Abbazia di Vallombrosa

Villa Arceno

Bardini Garden in Florence

Bernard Berenson

Boboli's Gardens

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Bottini

Castello di Brolio

Villa Cahen

Villa della Capponcina

Villa Capponi

Villa Medici at Careggi

Villa di Catignano

Cecil Ross Pinsent

Castello di Celsa

Villa Certano Baldassarrini

Certosa di Pontignano

Villa di Cetinale

Villa Chigi Saracini

Villa Farnese (Caprarola)

Gardens in Fiesole

Villa Gamberaia

Villa Garzoni in Collodi

Villa di Geggiano

Villa Grabau

Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati

Horti Leonini di San Quirico

Villa I Collazzi, Firenze

Iris Origo

L'Orto de'Pecci (Siena)

Villa I Tatti

Villa Medicea La Ferdinanda

Villa La Foce

Villa La Gallina in Arcetri

Villa Lante

Villa La Petraia

Villa La Pietra

Villa La Suverana in Casole d'Elsa

The Medici Villa at Careggi

Villa Medici in Fiesole, Firenze

Garden of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Firenze

Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Medici Villas in Tuscany

Villa di Monaciano

Giardino degli Orti Oricellari | Firenze

Orto Botanico, Siena

Villa Orlandini in Poggio Torselli

Il Palazzone

Villa Palmieri and Villa Schifanoiai

Villa Peyron al Bosco di Fontelucente

Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

Villa di Pratolino

Villa Reale di Marlia

Villa San Donato in Colle (Bagno a Ripoli)

Villa Santini Torrigiani

Villa di Vicobello

Villa Vistarenni

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Gardens in Tuscany
Villa Vistarenni, between the towns of Radda and Gaiole in Chianti

Villa Vistarenni


Villa Vistarenni is located between the towns of Radda and Gaiole in Chianti, two key production centres in the history of the Chianti Classico in Tuscany.

Vistarenni derives from Fisterinne, Etruscan name that means good view, was a small, fortified settlement that still existed in the year 1000 on the same place, where the villa stands nowadays.
A former property of the Florentine Strozzi family, and later of the Sonnino family, which gave birth to some senior officers of state in early Italian governments, now belongs to the Tognana family. Vistarenni or "Fisterinne" is known to have been one of the rural settlements that in Roman-Etruscan times studded the territory around the Etruscan centre of Cetamura. From its very beginnings it was a small village, recorded in early Middle-Age documents: the oldest of these, in the register of the monastery of San Lorenzo in Coltibuono, is a sales contract where the borders with S.Donato in Perano were the established.

In 1400 the Florentine land register mentions the built-up area of Vistarenni, which at that time comprised 6 or 7 houses and belonged to a large landowner of the area Giovanni di Cecchino da Panzano.
In 1621 Vistarenni became the property of the Florentine Giannozzo da Cepparello and in 1714 passed to certain exponents of the Chianti family Pianigiani. That was the end of the old village Vistarenni and on the same area arose the large building of the villa-farm with courtyard, kitchen garden and "olive mill"; a building which still perpetuated in some ways the Renaissance architectural tradition with its regular plano-volumetric structure and lines of windows in the white walls.
The cellars were enlarged, excavating into rock, and covered by cross vaults in terra cotta interspersed with depressed arches. The estate at that time covered 78 hectares.
In 1852 the whole Pianigiani property was sold to the Prince Ferdinando Strozzi and was managed for about 40 years by this aristocratic Florentine family whose coat-of-arms can still be seen in some parts of the manor house of Vistarenni. Prince Strozzi was a member of the Tuscan Assembly in 1859 and was named Senator of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. The estate consisted in 26 holdings located in the Communes of Radda and Gaiole, all with farmhouse, yard or threshing floor and shed, and was managed according to the traditional system of agricultural agreements and subsequent share-cropping.

At the end of the nineteenth century and more precisely in 1892, Baron Giorgio Sonnino, brother of Sidney, who was Prime Minister in 1906 and 1909, took over from the Strozzi family.
A science graduate from the university of Pisa, Baron Sonnino lived in San Miniato di Firenze and was elected Senator of the Kingdom in 1868.
The books and documents in the villa's library are evidence of his vast ranging interests: from agriculture to public finance, from merchant shipping to African affairs and especially the colony of Eritrea. The Estate was enlarged from that moment on until it covered an overall area of 650 hectares.
The average annual production of Chianti wine was at that time over 2300 hectolitres; a wine that was particularly esteemed for its qualities of " robustness, fineness and preservability".

Sonnino had the façade of the villa embellished and between 1914 and 1919 the four pilaster strips of the central body, the lintels ( arched and flat ) over the windows of the piano nobile and the large staircase with two flights were added to design by the Florentine architect Ludovico Fortini.
A chapel also remains: a small sixteenth-century construction in Neo Renaissance style, which bears the date 1584 on the lintel. It was used as Sonnino family vault and was dedicated to the Florentine saint Maria Magdalena de'Pazzi ( 1566-1607), one of the most important and worshipped ecstatic saints of the Catholic faith.

In the parc there is a small chapel, dedicated to Santa Maddalena de'Pazzi.

Villa Vistarenni in Gaiole in Chianti
Villa Vistarenni in Gaiole in Chianti


Address: Villa Vistarenni Loc. Vistarenni 53013 Gaiole in Chianti (Siena)

The Strozzi Family in Florence | The Strozzi family grew rich through commerce and took an active part in the government of Florence after the 13th century. In the fifteenth century, the Strozzi strongly opposed the Medici rule of Florence and were exiled when Cosimo de' Medici seized power in 1434.
At an early date the family divided into several branches. Palla Strozzi, c.1373–1462, a politician and ardent humanist, furthered Greek studies in Florence and Padua. Filippo Strozzi, 1428–91, son of Matteo Strozzi, gained wealth and influence in Naples, and returned to Florence in 1466.
His son Filippo Strozzi, 1489–1538, married a granddaughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici; he was first friendly to the Medici, then became a staunch opponent. He led Florentine exiles against Cosimo I de’ Medici, was captured, and died in prison.
His son Leone Strozzi, 1515–54, first entered the Order of Malta and later became an admiral in the French service. He distinguished himself in wars against Spain and England.
Another son of Filippo, Piero Strozzi, d. 1558, a violent enemy of the Medici, fought for the French in the Italian Wars and was made a marshal of France. He took part in the French siege of Calais (1557).
Filippo Strozzi, 1541–82, was also in the French service. He was captured and killed by the Spanish in a naval battle off the Azores.

Wines in Tuscany | Chianti

Villa is Tuscany

Farmhouses in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia

Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, view from the garden
on the valley below

  Villa San Martino, Napoleon’s summer residence

Villa I Tatti
Parco di Villa Reale di Castello (Villa di Castello) in Florence

L'Orto de'Pecci

Monte Oliveto Maggiore abbey
Abbey of Sant 'Antimo
L'abbazia di San Lorenzo a Coltibuono




Gaiole in Chianti is located along the river Massellone and on the road connecting Chianti to Valdarno. Thanks to this position, Gaiole has always played an important role as market center for the castles and towns nearby.
The countryside around Gaiole is dotted with many castles due to the strong influence of the Firidolfi family, and later, by the Florentine Republic’s need for defensive positions. The surroundings of Gaiole in Chianti have several interesting place to visit. Among the noteworthy monuments, we mention the Romanesque Parish Church of St Maria in Spaltenna, the Castle of Brolio and the Castle of Meleto. From the southern end of the town, a road on the left of the Massellone torrent diverges in the direction of Barbischio Castle.

The history of Chianti dates back to at least the 13th century with the earliest incarnations of Chianti as a white wine. Today this Tuscan wine is one of Italy's most well known and recognizable wines. In the Middle Ages, the villages of Gaiole, Castellina and Radda located near Florence formed as a Lega del Chianti (League of Chianti) creating an area that would become the spiritual and historical "heart" of the Chianti region and today is located within the Chianti Classico Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). As the wines of Chianti grew in popularity other villages in Tuscany wanted their lands to be called Chianti. The boundaries of the region have seen many expansions and sub-divisions over the centuries. The variable terroir of these different macroclimates contributed to diverging range of quality on the market and by the late 20th century consumer perception of Chianti was often associated with basic mass-market Chianti sold in a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco.[1]
In addition to changing boundaries, the grape composition for Chianti has changed dramatically over the years. The earliest examples of Chianti were a white wine but gradually evolved into a red. Baron Bettino Ricasoli, the future Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy created the first known "Chianti recipe" in 1872, recommending 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca. In 1967, the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) regulation set by the Italian government firmly established the "Ricasoli formula" of a Sangiovese based blend with 10-30% Malvasia and Trebbiano. However some producers desired to make Chianti that did not conform to these standards-such as a 100% varietal Sangiovese wine, or all red wine grape varieties and perhaps with allowance for French grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to be used. A few producers went ahead and made their "chianti" as they desired but, prohibited from labeling, sold them as simple vino da tavola. Despite their low level classifications, these "super Chiantis" became internationally recognized by critics and consumers and were coined as Super Tuscans. The success of these wines encouraged government officials to reconsider the DOCG regulations with many changes made to allow some of these vino da tavola to be labeled as Chiantis.[1]

Tuscany| Gaiole in Chianti

[1] J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 162-163 Oxford University Press 2006