La storiaHistory


"Villa d’Arceno: living in a wonderful place" written by Vera Marcolini

The area of Villa d'Arceno spreads over thousand hectares among the hills of the Sienese Chianti area,  inserted between Castelnuovo Berardenga and San Gusmé.
In ancient times it was a small Etruscan community, in the Middle Ages it became the property of the Berardenghi family, founders of the Abbey of Saint Salvatore (Abbazia di San Salvatore), then it was split up among many small owners, it revived at the end of the fifteenth century when a rich Sienese family, the Del Taia, started to buy  the various farmhouses and parish churches, one by one.
In the high Middle Ages there were four small parish churches and at least two castles  in this area.
The names of today's farmhouses reveal the ancient origins.
Saint John (San Giovanni) was a parish church cited for the first time in the  "Stationer of Berardenga" (Cartulario della Berardenga) in 1056; then there were Saint Peter (San Pietro) (today's chapel belonging to the Villa), Saint Donato (San Donato) of probable Longobard origin with the function of guard tower as well and at last Saint Lawrence and Fabian (San Lorenzo e Fabiano), today transformed into a farmhouse in Pancole, where also a small convent owned by the nuns of Saint Petronilla was annexed. 
A castle was  the present Pallazzaccio, while the Montecchio farmhouse was another guard tower.
Thus a community capable of defending itself and preserving its life unity.
The Del Taia family, of Longobard origin, had moved to Siena at the middle of the fourteenth century and started to extend its properties in Villa d'Arceno buying first Montecchio and thereafter all the farmhouses existing at the time. In the middle of the seventeenth century it transformed the group of houses around the parish church of Saint Peter into the present Villa.
The Del Taia family bought also most part of the San Gusmé village, Villa Sesta and the whole Saint Felice village, becoming a true land power, like many other Sienese families at the time.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century all the farmhouses that still exist today with the transformation of the most ancient churches into homes are indicated in the documents.
The only parish churches that have survived until the 1950ies were the church of the Villa named again Saint John and the one of Saint Lawrence and Fabian, that has only recently disappeared, but was still operative in the postwar period.
Villa d'Arceno lived its highest splendor in the nineteenth century when it was bought by Count Emilio Piccolomini Clementini that made his residence even more magnificent and entrusted the most famous architect of the time, Agostino Fantastici, with the creation of the English Wood (today known as Romantic Park) from nothing.
Fantastici worked from 1832 to 1844 (year of his death) creating the pond, all the buildings that still exist, the big bridge and the whole wooded part.
From 1855 the area started to decay, because the Estate shifted from one owner to the other and in the 1990ties it was split up and returned to live again in today's appearance of private properties.
The antique splendor is still present in every farmhouse  and traces of the ancient crafts are to be seen in not much known corners: what strikes today is the splendid harmony of the vines that follow the dancing movements of the hills and encircle with elegance the farmhouses.
Unpaved  roads and footpaths wind among woods of holm-oaks and amazing alleys with cypress trees: who lives in these places breathes history and finds again peace and harmony, thanks to a respected nature.

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Villa Arceno Consortium
Locality Arceno
San Gusme'
53010 Castelnuovo Berardenga
Phone: +39 0577 359371
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