26 Aug Katharine Pooley Spotlights L’Aiaccia in Chianti – The Idyllic Tuscan Farmhouse Getaway
Italy has long valued the remarkable beauty and important history of the Chianti region as have visitors who have traveled here for centuries. The efforts for historic preservation have kept the towns and countryside looking much the same as centuries past. Set against rolling hills in Tuscany’s famously beautiful area of Radda in Chianti is L’Aiaccia, a full-service luxury villa, designed by Katharine Pooley, the highly sought-after interior designer who has designed many landmark commercial and residential properties around the world.
Seeking inspiration from the magical setting in Tuscany, timeless views of the surroundings and honouring the history of the beautiful building, Katharine has sensitively transformed the property while preserving its original Tuscan charm. The spectacular views have to be seen to be believed and the light is extraordinary having inspired artists for generations.
Katharine Pooley’s Expert Design in Preserving a Tuscan Treasure
Originally built in 1788, in the classic Leopoldina-style, L’Aiaccia was a working farmhouse. Katharine was tasked to breathe new life into the villa’s interiors whilst being exceptionally careful to preserve the house’s original character, features and charm as well as adding all modern-day comforts.
Katharine’s unique skillset and expertise in restoring heritage buildings afforded her experience in being sensitive to preserving its authentic architectutre and design. Katharine’s inherent challenge was to achieve an elegant interior for the three-story villa – in harmony with its Tuscan landscape, to sensitively maintain and preserve the original architectural characteristics while achieving a contemporary level of comfort and luxurious touches.
The property is perfect for up to ten guests with five bedrooms, four in the villa and one in the adjacent guest house – perfectly complemented by a stunning pool and a games barn. The grounds include beautiful gardens and multiple places to relax and dine alfresco which have been revamped by Katharine and her team of designers to concurrently retain the history of the property and showcase its elegance.
Adding modern utilities such as air-conditioning to each of the bedrooms with the workmen navigating foot-thick stone walls and leaving virtually no visible sign externally of the modern convenience within was no easy feat. Among the refurbishments made during the farmhouse’s regeneration were the three fully renovated bathrooms with an additional bathroom added on, the small barn transformed into a games room, the expanding of the gardens, lighting throughout the grounds, and substantial improvements to the road leading to the villa as well as the upper terrace.
‘The farmhouse is set within its own lemon and olive groves in a wonderfully secluded location with no houses nearby, just vineyards and the glorious Italian landscape,’ explains Katharine. ‘I felt strongly the property should not feel too obviously designed or opulent as it is at heart a farmhouse rather than a villa.’ Katharine’s vision instead adopted an informal and evocative scheme that pays homage to the integrity of the architecture, and weaves together the textures and colours of the setting.
A Farmhouse Setting
Soft colours were chosen for the walls and earth tones for the fabrics – sage green, ochre, burnt orange and soft yellows feature throughout, new upholstery was commissioned in hardwearing cottons and linens, and antiques sourced throughout Italy and the United Kingdom.
Gentle gradients and steps built of local stone lead from the “aia”, the original threshing floor next to the barn, up to the central courtyard to the left of which lies the original pigsty, with the main house to the right. These staggered terraces with their potted lemon trees, hedges of lavender and vines create natural vistas from the main terrace.
The main terrace was renovated by a local architect and tradesmen who used materials local to the area and was completed by Katharine with the addition of a tile topped wrought iron table, wrought iron chairs, pretty striped and botanical patterned cushions and accessories. Overhead, bunches of grapes hang from an established vine while terracotta pots overflowing with red geraniums and lemon and lime trees give off a wonderful scent in the sunshine.
All the wrought iron furniture in the property was bought locally or made bespoke from a Florentine workshop. A majority of the pieces in this property are antiques that were bought with the owners in the markets of Florence and in the surrounding Tuscan countryside – much more personal than just importing from the United Kingdom and with the rich history of metal work, ceramics and textiles in Northern Italy – resulted in several more-than-fabulous finds.
The kitchen was kept quite simple and functional so as not to interfere with the architecture – therefore, the storage is mainly low level and very simply constructed. Finishes were chosen to be very durable and the cold granite countertop was a must for all of the pastry work, pizza base and bread making that the owners hoped to do every summer.
During the long, hot summer days the shutters are left open to make the most of the soft Tuscan light and the spectacular vistas, while at night the various entertaining and relaxation areas Katharine has added to the staggered terrace are lit by small, hanging hurricane lamps.
Available for Booking
L’Aiaccia is located within forty acres in the idyllic heart of the Chianti region of Tuscany. The villa is available to rent at the following link: https://athomeinchianti.com. At L’Aiaccia, one can step back in time, with an innate appreciation for all the modern comforts at hand. Immersed in the glorious Chianti countryside, it is hard not to reflect on the hundreds of years history as L’Aiaccia continues its story as a very special, extremely comfortable retreat which the owners are happy to share with their guests.
“What a joy to work with the bones of such a beautiful building and create a peaceful summer retreat for the owners’ young family – truly this has been one of my favourite projects to spend time in… When the owners are not in-residence, they offer it for rental so who knows I may be back every year to keep those cushions plumped!” comments Katharine.