The Journal

Sick memories of beauty

Published: April 16, 2019

There was this wooden table, tiny and a little too quirky to exist in that space; one of those tables made with randomly nailed strips. The surface was of an ashy flesh tone, almost shocking – I had never seen wood with a similar nuance – the object was collocated outside, in the large garden of the Villa. Four clumsy stools accompanied the table: little variable parallelepiped made with the same poor material. There were other four or five identical models of the same table.

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ART AT VILLA LENA FOR 2019

Published: April 5, 2019

The Villa Lena Foundation is over the moon to announce an exciting jam-packed schedule for the upcoming season in 2019. We have hand-picked a selection of creative practitioners spanning across all creative disciplines to join us from April through to November to live and create at Villa Lena.

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Post Venice Biennale Plant Party

Published: March 25, 2019

The Venice Biennale is one of the most important dates on the global art calendar, and for the first time ever Villa Lena will be hosting an exclusive Biennale after party!

We invite guests who have spent the busy pre-opening week at the biennale, to wind down over a long weekend at the beautifully wild and peacefully remote Villa Lena, where we will be offering a programme of plant-themed activities.

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Interview with Kristopher Edelen | Chef in Residence 2018

Published: March 19, 2019

Q: Kris, what brought you to Villa Lena?

A: I was doing some looking into residencies in the U.S. to start I have always wanted to work on a farm and be able to cook with the ingredients in a locavore kind of way. I was accepted into one residency in upstate New York but as I came to think I continued to do more research on chef-in-residency programs around the world. As I surfed the web Villa Lena show up in my search, I did what anyone would do and I clicked the link: it was “Amore a prima vista”! I was captured immediately I just knew I had to continue to read what this 19th-century Italian villa located in Palaia, Italy was about. Through this research, I put in some work (literally)  and actually got in contact with the owner Lena Evstafieva we had a Skype interview and next thing you know I was set for 2018 Aug-October chef-in-residence. The ortos, the pigs, the agriculture, the ethos, land, community, farmers, butchers, hunters, cuisine, artist are what all brought me to the Villa.

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REFLECTING ON HIS RESIDENCY | PETER MOLESWORTH

Published: October 3, 2018

Dear Julia,

At this point I am almost certain that I will not be able to give you what you want with my journal entry. The more words I assign to my experience, the less effectively I can communicate it. In fact, it is maddening; to spend so many hours reflecting, writing in search of some grand metaphor, to repeatedly think I’ve finished only then to erase the hundreds of words I have cobbled together and begin another new attempt. Each time I think I’ve finished, I’ll feel a small relief, eagerly reread the piece, realize I’ve failed, and then delete everything in a haste to begin once more and waste another thousand inadequate words.

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REFLECTING ON HER RESIDENCY | JULIE IROMUANYA

Published: August 29, 2018

Julie Iromuanya travelled from Tucson, Arizona in the USA- where she is an assistant professor at the Creative Writing MFA course at the University of Arizona, to come to stay with us at Villa Lena as an artist in residence for the month of June.

She is the author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for Debut Fiction.

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Margherita Cake with Vernaccia Sabayon

Published: July 9, 2018

Amaze your friends with this sweet recipe from former chef-in-residence Aaron Tomczak. This cake is the ultimate dessert for al-fresco dinners with your loved ones.

Villa Lena to me is simplicity, made extraordinary through natural beauty augmented by creativity. To draw a parallel to food for me would be ripe strawberries and Margherita cake, topped with a sabayon made from local wine and garnished with herbs from the garden. Very simple ingredients, made memorable by the airy texture of the sabayon and floral aroma of nasturtium and lavender.

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A geologist at Villa Lena

Published: February 20, 2018

Emily Ross is a young geologist and artist exploring the intersection of geology and art around the world as a 2017 Watson Fellow. After spending a month at Villa Lena, Emily gives us an hint about the geological analysis of the property and geological tips for the area.

The complex geology of Italy is largely responsible for Italy’s rich art history, from the renaissance marble of Carrara to the iron-rich clay of majolica pottery. The active tectonics of the region cause earthquakes, volcanic activity, uplift, and erosion, as the African and Eurasian plates collide.

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The Stinkhorn of Pisa by David Fenster and Laura Copelin

Published: January 25, 2018

Former residents Laura Copelin and David Fenster, from Marfa, Texas,  spent their residency studying local mushrooms species. They explored the botanical gardens of Pisa and Florence and spoke to scientists there. This fuelled some interesting collaborative work, and helped them realising The Latticed Stinkhorn of Pisa documentary.

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Strawberry Tree Syrup by Natalie Zervou

Published: December 14, 2017

Discovering the Arbutus Unedo plant (or strawberry tree as it is affectionately known) growing abundantly at Villa Lena was a revelation!

This small tree belongs  to the Ericaceae family, native to the Mediterranean region. The species name, ‘unedo’, is said to mean “I only eat one” in Latin as they are said to leave a slightly bitter aftertaste. I did not find this to be the case, though the texture for me was somewhat challenging (think flouring apple!) however,  when transformed into shrubs, syrups and jams this fruit really is utterly delightful. The flavour is layered, complex and sweet and when married with thymus mint, also bountiful at the villa, the heavenly aroma and sticky sweet taste kept us going back for more. In folk medicine, the plant has been used for antiseptic, astringent, intoxicant, rheumatism, and tonic purposes. I enjoyed the shub best, the acidity of the vinegar gave a tangy twist and had that addictive quality that contrasting flavours often possess (think salty and sweet).

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