An insider guide to our regions

Overview of the Chiarentana

The Chiarentana estate extends over 200 hectares in what is probably the most beautiful nook of the famous Val d’Orcia, a Unesco World Heritage site since 2002.
Chiarentana is the sister estate of the famous La Foce estate, legacy of the author Iris Origo and her husband Antonio.
This is a fascinating story: When Iris and Antonio Origo came to the Val d’Orcia, Chiarentana was one of the many farms on the La Foce estate, in fact certainly the largest, with over seven families and their livestock living around the large square building with a central courtyard.

Its history goes back to the early Middle Ages, when it was one of the many small castles where pilgrims would stop on their way to Rome on the via Francigena. Emperor Otto I is said to have stopped here himself on his way to visit the Pope in the second half of the10th century.
During the 14th century Chiarentana became one of the first Communes, with its own statute, complete with a set of laws and sanctions. Thereafter the fortunes of Chiarentana followed those of its neighbors – a downhill story of war and devastation, poverty and degradation.

In 1924 when the Origos bought the property it was in conditions of severe destitution. Through their lifelong and passionate joint efforts they succeeded in bringing progress and social change to this poverty-ridden land, leading to a miraculous transformation of the conditions of the people living on it. La Foce became a bustling prosperous farm, reforestation and water management prevented the erosion which had ravaged the land for centuries, farmland was reclaimed from the expanses of clay hillocks, dams were built for irrigation purposes, roads were made, schools annihilated the prevailing illiteracy, basic health services were provided to all. La Foce was considered a model estate, and as such was spared the land reform that broke up most large properties in the 50s. Upon their death La Foce was divided into two properties by the Origo daughters: the Chiarentana estate is run by their second daughter Donata.

The Chiarentana estate is made up of the main building and several free standing farms. In the main building 6 apartments surround a paved courtyard shaded by an old linden tree. There is a large garden with secluded corners for each apartment, a pool, a tennis court and a children’s playground.
Delicious freshly cooked meals are served on 2 evenings of the week, indoors during the colder months, in the candle-lit courtyard in summer. Oil-tasting dinners with specially paired recipes are served once a week. 3 freestanding farms which offer charm as well as comfort and a private pool can also be rented.

Chiarentana has focused on the production of the highest quality olive oil; olive groves with particular varieties of olive trees surround the main Chiarentana building, while extensive wheat and hay fields cover the rolling hills leading down to the bottom of the valley. In the midst of these hills are some of the few remaining wild areas of the “crete senesi”, the clay hills depicted in the Sienese paintings from the 13th and 14th centuries. These areas are now the home to wild boar, roebuck, porcupines and hares, as well as rare forms of orchids, dog-roses, prickly pear and broom.


Read our blog posts telling you more about this estate :