Our Identity, our Philosophy
A unique agriturismo located in the heart of rural Tuscany combining holiday accommodation, a farm-to-table restaurant and a not-for-profit art foundation. Guests are invited to stay with Villa Lena’s creative family celebrating local Tuscan history, culture and food within the context of international artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, musicians, chefs and agricultural experts.
The estate is located in the province of Pisa, secluded amongst 500 hectares of woodland, vineyards, olive groves and 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 outhouses serve as self-contained guest apartments and shared facilities.
Creativity and collaboration underscores life at Villa Lena with a programme of events ranging from artist talks to children’s activities, al fresco film screenings to cooking workshops and candlelit concerts to poolside DJ sets. Days can be spent exploring the woodlands, visiting nearby towns such as Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena or Florence, learning to make fresh pasta, foraging for truffles, conversing over cocktails or simply relaxing poolside. Each evening guests and artists gather in the terrace restaurant for a communal dining experience based around a seasonal organic menu that is rooted in Italian cuisine and prepared by the visiting chef-in-residence.
Villa Lena cultivates both nature and culture to evince a new way of living.
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 frescos and some of the portraits are family members.
The area of land that the villa is situated on is named San Michele after the archangel Michael. The chapel inside the Villa is also devoted to San Michele. The Villa soon became a valued spot for parties and meetings and a major centre for hunting on the outskirts of Palaia. The family grew 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 got into deep debt. The property was then purchased by San Giorgio di Roma Bank and redeemed by Mr. Luisi few years later. Numerous property transfers followed throughout the years 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 together in one place their experiences in music, art, entertainment, film, fashion and other creative fields and create a unique kind of Tuscan retreat.
In 2013 the property was re-opened as Villa Lena Agriturismo, with a soft opening where guest apartments and creative residencies were offered to their circle of friends and family. The concept and the estate has continued to develop over the seasons, creating an environment where guests and artists from different backgrounds can come together to relax, create and be inspired.