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Camparone

 

Camparone

The landscape and light between the Val D'Orcia and Crete Senesi are among the most beautiful accidents of history, a wonderfully evolved harmony between cultivation and wildness, abundance and erosion, the sacred and profane.

Camparone lies in the middle of this pastoral dream, roughly equidistant from the ancient hill towns of Montalcino, Pienza, and Asciano. The house dates back to the 1500s, and sits on a spur of land just outside the village of San Giovanni D'Asso, girdled round by its trees, terraces and orto, which also enclose the old threshing floor attached to the west, like a terracotta courtyard.

From the loggia, house and natural pond the view opens down the fertile valley below, over the stream with its truffle woods, rising to the nearby hills netted with farms, fields and cypresses, and on to the distant blue peaks of Monte Amiata and Monte Labro. Like Cezanne's Mont St Victoire the panorama changes by the hour, day and season, and is enough by itself to fascinate and soothe the soul.

Rich as Tuscany is with marvellous houses and views there has always been something special about this particular casa di contadini. The locals invariably call it "la bellisima Camparone", and it's a favourite place to walk and sit in the golden evening light when the house is empty.

Ilio, who made the wine, pressed the olive oil and ran the estate for the Pasqui family used to say that there wasn't a better farmhouse for miles around. He was already 80 when we bought it, in failing health and not given to easy praise. He planted many of the cypresses and other trees around the house when he was a young man, and told us on no account to cut down the woods that protect us from the north winds in winter.

We've also kept the spirit of the place inside, gently restoring the old plaster, re-painting or touching in the limewash coloured with earth pigments, just as they did for centuries: yellow ochre, burnt sienna, raw umber greenish, caput mortuum, a roll call of colours used by peasants and old masters alike. Unlike modern plastic paint they fade or flame depending on how the light falls, and make one glad to be alive.

Doors and windows have been repaired and repainted with linseed oil paint mixed onsite, or left untouched and weathered to just functional perfection. Most of the furniture is plain country fare in the same tradition, and there are just enough modern conveniences to make it liveable without destroying the spirit of the place.

So you won't find en suite bathrooms for every bedroom, a gleaming modern kitchen, a television room or banks of sofas installed in what used to be the stables or the ancient cantinas. Only the upper floors are for living in, where the light and breezes play and the views unfurl or get shut out as the temperature drops, when firelight and candlelight provide their own contemplative magic.

There is no shortage of fancier or more modernised places to stay in Tuscany but few can match Camparone's ability to delight and restore the spirit.

Green Thoughts in a Green Shade: just behind the house you will also find an ambitious and exciting new garden, being made by the artist Shepherd Craig. For more information click here. (link to Rory Stuart's article).

The house sleeps between 2 and 6 people, has one large bathroom, kitchen with traditional fireplace and a few mod cons and a large living room/library . For cooler evenings or the winter there is central heating in the bedrooms and bathroom, the great fireplace in the kitchen and a wood stove in the living room. There's free internet and a landline (extra) if you need it, but no television.

Basic prices are €600 for 4 people or less and €700 for 6. Add 20% for premium dates - Xmas, New Year, Easter, Truffle Festival in early November. Babies are free and children under 13 are half-price. There are also discounts for long lets during the winter months as well as for artists, musicians and garden historians.

The house is not available during the first three weeks of May, or the last three weeks of October.

Contact Anna Maria Redi to arrange a booking at Camparone.

Email: annamariaredi@me.com 

Tel: +39 335 8413699.