Locals are invited to Villa Lucchese for an annual religious ceremony, a tradition its owners have maintained over the years in their private, still consecrated chapel, in this tiny village of Aquilea in the Tuscan countryside, an hour from Florence.
The property, which comes with its own place of worship, is not any old rustic farmhouse, but a historic villa, dating back to the 17th century, likely one of the grand summer residences of nobility or landowners who escaped to the hillside from the summer heat.
The current owner, a British entrepreneur who runs a company that manufactures high-end bathroom products, has been restoring the villa over 10 years. The result is a harmonious mix of new and old. Frescoes adorn the walls of the piano nobile, the principal floor, but two guesthouses provide modern holiday-home comforts.
“They have struck an amazing balance,” said Gemma Bruce of estate agency The Viewing. “There’s a gorgeous bathroom and kitchen with range cooker and big sink, all the comforts you could want. But they have chosen products and a style that makes it feel in-keeping with all the traditional features of the villa”.
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The villa is 1,000 square meters (nearly 11,000 square feet), overlooking 12 hectares of land. The main villa has five bedrooms and three bathrooms; two guest apartments adjoining the villa have two bedrooms and two bathrooms each.
The land surrounding Villa Lucchese includes olive groves, vegetable and flower gardens, mature fruit orchards, and south-facing vineyards that are currently unused but could be restored.
There is also planning consent in place for an outdoor swimming pool.
The guest houses are both attached to the villa but also have separate exterior entrances. “The villa works very well for someone who likes to entertain a lot,” Ms. Bruce said. “You can have people to stay but guests have their own space. The villa and guest houses also work well for anyone who has teenage kids wanting to feel independent while on holiday but still staying in the same building.”
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The villa’s traditional layout has been maintained, with service rooms and storage on the ground floor, piano nobile and grand reception rooms on the first floor, and bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor, accessed via a grand central staircase.
Marble features heavily in the bathrooms and kitchen but not the highly polished, glitzy variety, rather a more subtle, matte Carrara marble sourced from up the Tuscan coast.
When doing the restoration, the walls were stripped back to find layers of frescoes. Over the years, different noble families had painted new frescoes over the top of those chosen by previous noble owners. Those restoring the villa most recently went carefully through the layers and chose which to bring out and keep.
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Lucca is 15 minutes by car. The “really sweet little village,” whose roads are only just big enough for a Fiat Punto has a few facilities. You can walk five minutes from the villa to get your morning newspaper, and cappuccino or grab an early evening aperitivo in the local cafe.
The existing villa owner believes Lucca has a microclimate; it is only 25 minutes to the coast, Forte dei Marmi, and the villa is on a hillside with a valley in front, which means it is neither too cold in winter, nor stifling hot in the height of summer compared to Florence or Bologna.
Pisa airport is a 40-minute drive away.