Exploration and contrived adventures continue to fuel my choices and delights. I am attracted with great curiosity to know more of life during the transition from the darkness of medieval life to the more civilised humanistic periods of the Renaissance. I visited this Estate of the Marquis Camugliano to quench my curiosity and enjoy an organic food and wine dining experience.
Herein much of my enthusiasm and joy returns as I encounter true adventures and stroll through real history. I now allow my photos to reveal footsteps and expose mysteries of times gone by. Rulers of Europe are known for concocted, designed and manipulated relationships and also for horrible battles for economic control of land and sea. Thus the story goes:
Though illegitimate, Alessandro de Medici was the last member of the principal line of the Medici to rule Florence from 1531-1537 and the first to be a hereditary duke. As the Medici focused on a policy of expansion towards the sea, land acquisition turned more and more towards the Pisan plain. The area had a greater strategic role for the ruler’s interests. Therein Duke Alessandro was chosen to realize a grand agricultural residence in this hilly region between the valleys of Era and Cascina. This engendered greater movement by all the grand dukes of Tuscany. Thus the origin of the Estate of Camugliano. Below is the humble abode of a sharecropper farm resident. This estate actually had formed an entire village of laborers to keep it functioning as a farm, host site for soldiers, and a place of repose for voyaging dignitaries.
The land is an extraordinary blend of thickly forested trails and roads that the natural animals roaming free call home. Among the walking paths there are ancient structures such as an ice house, entries to underground tunnels to the food and wine cellars, and freshwater springs. There are golden meadows and acres of formal garden along with gardens for fruits, vegetable, olives and wine production. The property houses a Roman Catholic church for the families of the workers on the estate, while the estate residents have a private family chapel. There is a museum housing implements, tools and equipment from the original estate, and stables and soldiers quarters. A tree-lined road leads to the restaurant. From the 1600s this land has stayed the same. It remains productive today and now comprises an element of the budding slow-food, organic agri-tourism industry.
In 1637, the Medici family renounced the villa and sold the estate of Camugliano to Senator Filippo Niccolini, who at the same time was appointed Marquis de Camugliano and Ponsacco. The Niccolini family modified the original structure which included a double-ramped porch leading to an entryway on the first floor, and in the dominant fashion added an English garden to the surrounding park grounds. Additional reforms included an expansive upper-level stable area converted to a dining facility fit for kings, princes, dukes and important guests. It typically was enjoyed after a hunt. Below in the formal garden, parts of original estate’s marble bust remains.
The estate remains a working farm. In addition to food and wine, dogs are raised and trained to hunt. Pheasants, wild boars, deer and foxes inhabit and roam freely on the property. Parts are fenced and groundskeepers are employed to keep the natural ‘wild’ life within the grounds. The owner is fined if the animals leave the estate!
The natural flora, fauna, and animal ecosystems found along the wooded trails present an adventurous sense of exploring the unknown; below is an underground entry to food and wine cellars.
In the tradition of the intent for the original estate to serve as a place of repose and respite, one can yet book elegant fine lodging in traditional Italian country style at the Al Palazzo Del Marchese Di Camugliano. Experience a country respite in the province of Pisa, Tuscany Italy!
This visit presents just the right sort of spaces, offering a hint of mystery that I treasure exploring: dimly-lit wooded spaces and secret passages hidden within the underbrush of the forest. There are inviting openings that lead to small, low passages; entries leading to dark, mysterious tunnels or underground structures; or fresh spring water sources and storage. Below is a 10 meter receptacle to store and maintain ice.
There is a museum of originally used farm implements, tools and exotic equipment. These include hot coal heaters which were placed under beds, small food coolers and clothes washing systems. All attest to ‘modernity’ during this period, a move toward better, more civilized, humanistic times! Below is a device to hold a receptacle of hot coal that fits under the bed to heat the sleeping room.
The restaurant on-site serves organic, estate-produced wine and foods in comfortable country elegance for both indoor and outdoor dining. The menu offers original and classic recipes, and provides attentive and impeccable service.
Tour guides from both the Camugliano Estate and Ariana and Friends (who exclusively book visits to this estate) are knowledgable experts and delightfully share additional details when questions arise.
Visit the gallery below to see more of the property: