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In the HEART
of TUSCANY
between
PISA
and FLORENCE

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Our Story

Villa Lena cultivates both nature and culture, exemplifying a new way of living and holiday experience. Villa Lena cultivates both nature and culture, exemplifying a new way of living and holiday experience. The Villa Lena estate is located in the Province of Pisa, secluded amongst 500 hectares of woodland, vineyards, olive groves and organic vegetable gardens. A 19th-century villa sits at the heart of the property, originally built for an Italian aristocratic family. It now houses the Villa Lena Foundation and artist-in-residence programme. Surrounding the villa, converted historic agricultural buildings—former farmhouses, stables and hunting lodges—house self-contained guest apartments and shared facilities.

OUR PHILOSOPHY

Creativity and collaboration underscore life at Villa Lena with a programme of events ranging from artists’ talks to children’s activities, al fresco film screenings to cooking workshops and candlelit concerts to poolside DJ sets. Guests can spend their days exploring the woodlands or visiting nearby legendary towns and cities such as Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena or Florence. They can also learn to make fresh pasta, forage for truffles, socialise over cocktails or simply relax poolside. Each evening guests and artists gather in the restaurant for a communal dining experience based on a seasonal organic menu that is rooted in Italian cuisine.

OUR HISTORY

The Villa Lena property dates back to the late 19th century, when an Italian aristocratic family, Augusto and Tereza Del Frate, purchased the estate and moved from the nearby town of Palaia. A member of the Del Frate family completed the ceiling frescoes and some of the portraits in the villa are of family members. The area of land on which the villa is situated is named San Michele, after the archangel Michael, to whom the chapel inside the villa is also devoted. The villa soon became a favoured spot for parties and meetings and a major centre for hunting on the outskirts of Palaia. The family cultivated olives, grapes and wheat on the land. The villa experienced its heyday in the early 20th century, until the original owner died in 1931. Eventually a bank repossessed the whole property after the son of the owner fell into substantial debt. The property was then purchased by San Giorgio di Roma Bank and redeemed by Mr. Luisi a few years later. Numerous property transfers followed throughout the decades and the villa underwent extreme architectural changes and renovations.

The current owners bought the San Michele estate in 2007, in a state of extensive disrepair. Art world professional Lena Evstafieva, musician and producer Jérôme Hadey and Parisian restaurateur and nightclub owner Lionel Bensemoun combined their respective skills and knowledge to redevelop the property and found Villa Lena Agriturismo and Art Foundation. The project started with an idea to bring their experiences in music, art, entertainment, film, fashion and other creative fields together in one place and create a unique kind of Tuscan retreat. In 2013 the property was re-opened as Villa Lena Agriturismo, with a soft opening that offered guest apartments and creative residencies to their family and circle of friends. The concept and the estate continues to develop over the seasons, creating an environment where guests and artists from different backgrounds can come together to relax, create and be inspired.

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TOIANO VECCHIO

Toiano Vecchio—literally “Old Toiano”—is a medieval park, located just 5 minute’s walk from the central hub of Villa Lena, that was renovated in 2017. Once a site for an important medieval castle, it has seen various transformations over the centuries. The original castle collapsed during a violent earthquake and the larger stones were used to build the 19th-century villa, now the centrepiece of the property. The park centres around a hill, marking one of the highest points in the region with a serpentine, wooded walkway up to it. Since the 19th century, the park has been used variously for horse racing, exhibitions or afternoon promenades—even for cultivating olives. It features an ancient fountain and a curious shell-clad grotto. Previous artists-in-residence and landscape designers Jocelyn Oppenheim and Kate Smaby oversaw landscaping improvements including the Sunrise and Senset terraces that allow guests to take in the beautiful vistas and it features our largest organic vegetable garden. It’s the perfect spot to let your dogs run around, or enjoy a picnic with a breathtaking view. The park is open to the public on Sundays during designated hours, and open to the hotel guests throughout the season.

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