Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian
The Chianti region is so beautiful because there are people who passionately take care of it, people who cherish and preserve this land to pass on the landscape, the villas and historic gardens to future generations.
For more than 50 years Maria Teresa has been taking care of one of the most suggestive jewels that you find in the Val di Pesa: am original garden with kitchen garden which is among the last of it kind, located in La Romola (San Casciano).
“It all started in the early 1960s – he says – when our family bought some farms and this villa, that was first called Villa Zucconi, then renamed “I Casalini”. Today, after many years of hard work, sacrifices and good intuitions, we’ve created an organic farm and agriturismo here. And, most importantly, we’ve managed to restore the beautiful historic garden”.
“When we arrived here – explains Maria Teresa – both the villa and the garden were almost reduced to rubble, damaged by the war, plundered by people who were hungry then, bombed by the Germans who had also used it to house their troops”.
“At the time my husband and I were very young and we did not immediately understand the historical value of this place. I had always lived by the sea, being born in Viareggio, on the Tuscan coast. I didn’t even know what parsley looked like! But over the years, we became passionate about this place, and made it into our work and life project. Nowadays the best thing is to see how this estate has changed, regaining its ancient splendour”.
“The style of the garden is Baroque – Maria Teresa explains – built in 1600. It is a 3-level garden/vegetable garden, with pools of water that flows from a natural source from inside a cave. The highest level was for the gentlemen, to entertain themselves and use the pool. The lower levels were dedicated to the cultivation of ancient fruits and vegetables. It was most likely decorated with numerous statues, that we’ve never found, and embellished with lemon plants growing in big terracotta vases. Large caper plants live on the high walls that protect the garden, and in the garden grow box hedges, irises, lavender, roses and ancient fruits”.
“The restoration work on the garden was very complex – she tells us – because we had to rebuild part of the 17th century walls, following ancient dry stone walling techniques that today are no longer in use”.
“My husband Roberto was passionate about lemons – she continues – and took care of the plants from the start. Some plants are at least 300 years old, and also the terracotta vases are 150, 200 years old. It was impossible not to fall in love with the lemon plants, which are among the world’s most beautiful plants. The tradition was brought here by the Medici, great fans of beauty and art. Over the years we’ve reproduced them and today there are almost 100 plants on the walls of the garden, exposed to the sun, watching over the beautiful panorama of La Romola and the Val di Pesa,. The lemons are organically grown, and for some years now, I’ve been able to make a good production of limoncello, the Italian lemon liquor”.
“I’m happy – concludes Maria Teresa – about all that I built and restored with my husband Roberto and my son Stefano, who takes care of the agricultural part. Naturally, over the years there have been mistakes and difficulties. The project “I Casalini” required plenty of effort and studying. I never thought I could achieve all this and I’m especially happy when I see the amazement of the people who come to visit our garden, their eyes filled with wonders, beauty and amazing views”.