Historical tour part 2 (partial)

2013-05-30 10.58.02smHere is an interesting tidbit that I learned from Randall (one of many). The population of Siena has remained around 65,000 for several centuries. Why? With the advent of new farming technology, the landowner did not want to invest in the new technology. If he were already getting half (mezza) of everything on his land, then why would he want to change that?


Randall first came to Spanocchia as an architect interested in restoring the many buildings on the farm. He approached one of the doors on the terrace, knocked, Francesca answered the door and they instantly fell in love. He showed us that exact door on our tour. Decades later, Spanocchia has become the example for conservation and sustainable agriculture. When Randall and Francesca decided to live at Spanocchia full-time, it had been several decades since animals were on the farm and centuries since a family lived there year around. Francesca inherited the property from her family. Their focus is on education and agricultural sustainability. They raise endangered or heritage animal breeds like the Cinta Senese, produce wine, olive oil, salumi and all of the food grown on the land is organic and and support several educational programs. With the formation of the Spanocchia Foundation, the focus is on research and education in fields as varied as agriculture architecture, painting, drawing and archaeology dating all the way back to the Etruscans. Spanocchia hosts artists-in-residence and there is an Etruscan style kiln on the grounds.

Every three months a new set of interns comes to the farm. The current group will be ending their stay in a few days. We celebrated their stay with a long dinner and witnessed a teary-eyed thank you toast to both Randall and Francesca from the interns. Apparently every group of interns leaves in tears. I think that it is a testament to the authenticity of the experience, a visceral connection to the land, a way of life long forgotten in our media-saturated world and the lovely people, Francesca and Randall, willing to share the past for a better future.

I have several videos to share about the history of Castello di Spanocchia but I will have to wait to upload them because of our internet connection here. To be continued…..in the meantime, I will keep posting pictures 🙂

The posts may get a little shorter as our curriculum gets more intense. Very exciting!!!!


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