Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Under the Tuscan Spell— The Way to Rome

Originally published November4, 2005

Warner sits on a rusting farm implement at the experiment farm outside of Rome.

Warner sits on a rusting farm implement at the experiment farm outside of Rome.

Sadly, we left the beautiful sites, interesting history, elegant wine, and delicious food of Tuscany. At the ancient entrance to Rome, our bus pulled into Il Borgo di Tragliata. Sitting high on an outcropping of tufa was a villa that dated to the Roman Era. In the third century it was one of many “suburban” agricultural settlements surrounding Greater Rome that provided grain, vegetables, and meat for the central city.

With the fall of Rome and the following Dark Ages, the villa was abandoned. By the eighth century, it was in the hands of the Roman Church, and once again its fields provided for the people of Rome. A castle and tower were built to protect it from pirates and other invaders.

By 1492, the estate was in private hands and a farming village grew up around it. Four hundred years later the estate passed into the hands of the Lanza family who still own it.

After we moved into our assigned rooms, we were served fruit, cheese, and wine on the terrace. A lovely lady explained the estate is now an agricultural and cultural experiment. The historic farmhouse has been converted into a 20–room inn. The medieval tower now houses rented apartments, and the villa contains a restaurant and convention facilities. The 250–acre farm now produces organic fruits and vegetables.

Linda and I walked around the farm meeting cows, donkeys, and goats grazing among decaying junk cars and tractors. The small vegetable plots and orchards reminded us of similar farms in S.C.

At dinner that night we dined at a long oak table under the watchful eye of Domenico Lanza, who purchased the estate in 1917, and his grandson, Andrea de Gallo di Roccagiovane, the current proprietor.

Our group said farewell to Patrizia, our guide throughout Tuscany. She had led us from the airport at Florence to Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Pienza, Montepulciano, and Orvieto. Our every desire had been satisfied; our every wish fulfilled. She was gracious and attentive, a wonderful Italian hostess.

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