A typical tuscan farmhouse managed in harmony with nature
La Topaia farmed land covers 36 hectares of hilly terrain. The farm is run by the owners, Michel and Daniela, who carry out most of the agricultural tasks themselves.
La Topaia has the typical structure of an old Tuscan 'podere' (farmstead): in a commanding position, on top of a hill, are the residential and farming buildings, surrounded on all sides by gently sloping cultivated fields.
Our farm produces barley, wheat, field beans and sunflower, following the traditional method of the rotation of crops. Farming is run in compliance with the 'integrated fight' method (whose rules and regulations are set by the Toscana regional governing bodies based on European guidelines), which aims to limit the employment of chemicals while encouraging low-impact selective pesticides.
Mugello bread, merlot grapes, seasonal vegetables and fruits
La Topaia is also a member of the “pane del Mugello” (Mugello bread) consortium, a pool of entrepreneurs (farmers, millers and bakers) who – by means of a carefully monitored and certified process – locally produce wheat which is stone ground in old water mills and then baked in wood-burning ovens into natural-rise loaves of bread.
This is just how our typical golden bread was made for centuries on end in the Tuscan countryside: a thick fragrant bread variety that stays fresh for several days, and that once stale becomes the staple of such traditional recipies of the Tuscan “cucina povera” peasant cooking: ribollita, panzanella, pappa al pomodoro to name but a few.
La Topaia also comprises about two hectares of recently renewed vineyard, whose deep red grapes of the fine 'merlot' variety turn into an excellent wine.
We also take much pride and care in tending to the family vegetable garden wher we grow seasonal vegetables and herbs that we gladly share with our guests.
Worthy of mention is also our small fruit orchard, where we grow peaches, pears and other fresh fruit, which can be tasted as is or used to make cakes and other delicacies that our guests can fully appreciate for their breakfasts.
The heart of the complex is Villa La Topaia. In medieval times (13th -14th century) this manor house was the only building on the estate. Only much later, in the 19th century, was this ancient structure expanded with the addition of a large farmhouse, and later a cowshed, a barn and a loggia.
The long and careful renovation carried out by the present owners over the past two decades has managed to bring new life to the farm, adapting those buildings which were no longer necessary to the management of the actual farm to guest quarters. As the new accommodation units were completed, they were named after their former use to preserve the memory: therefore, you will find Loggia 1, Loggia 2, Stalla...
Dino Campana and Sibilla Aleramo
At Villa La Topaia, our hospitality is honoured by an outstanding literary tradition: La Topaia is in fact known in literary circles for having provided the backdrop for the budding love story between novelist Sibilla Aleramo (pen name of Rina Faccio, 1876-1960) and Dino Campana (1885-1932), one of the most intriguing Italian poets of the early 20th century, and author of the “Canti Orfici”.
At the time of their affair, in the summer of 1916, Sibilla Aleramo was staying at Villa La Topaia as a guest of Maria and Julien Luchaire (1876-1958), a French intellectual and politician who some years earlier founded the French Institute of Florence, to this day one of the leading French institutions in Italy.
A “mad” poet with a solitary and wayward personality, a social outcast who died in an asylum, Dino Campana was born in Marradi, in the Tuscan Apennines just north of La Topaia Agriturismo, and he had a deeply conflictual relationship with Mugello: yet this land, and its nature, forged his character and left a mark in his writings: “…there is a beautiful vegetation, the deep blue of the sky meets the Tuscan light every morning and evening along the mountain ridges. The river is very beautiful…” The Community Montana del Mugello, our local tourist and agricultural board, has published an interesting booklet called “A piedi con Dino Campana” (On foot with Dino Campana), describing a number of trails in the area based on Campana's diaries and letters.
The passionate yet painful love story between Campana and Aleramo was also portrayed a few years ago in the feature film “Un viaggio chiamato amore“ (internationally released as “A Journey Called Love”) directed by Michele Placido and starring Stefano Accorsi and Laura Morante, whose screenplay was based on the correspondence between the two protagonists.
Here are some short excerpts from the letters that Sibilla Aleramo wrote to Dino Campana from Villa La Topaia:
“...and the whole Mugello is new to me. Here I am lodged in a large, empty country house. The hosts have left it all to myself, while they are away, for two weeks.”
Sibilla Aleramo — Villa La Topaia, Borgo San Lorenzo — Monday [July 24th 1916]
“... This is the last evening that I spend alone at La Topaia. (Those bloody Luchaires, had I known they were to be this late in coming back!... But they should not be despised: for without this holiday spent at their place, who knows when you and I would ever have met...”
Sibilla Aleramo — Villa La Topaia, Borgo San Lorenzo — Wednesday evening [August 1916]