Panoramic views of rolling hills stretch towards the horizon, silhouetted against the blue sky, lead to this Tuscany home. The yellow of fields of wheat are broken up here and there by rows of cypresses, while the curving rows of vines trace the contours of the rolling landscape. And, in the middle of this landscape, there is an age-old dirt road that, to borrow a phrase from Italian poet and native son of Tuscany Mario Luzi, “points with its turns at the heart of the enigma.”
They point to the soul too, since this slice of paradise so captivated a Milanese family that they chose to make it their retreat. So many perspectival vanishing points coexist here that they add up to a 360-degree view of the Val d’Orcia, in the province of Siena. “I’ll never forget the first time I saw this place,” says Tomaso, the owner of the house. “The sun was slowly descending on the horizon and the valley was tinged with the colors of sunset. Nature touched my deepest heartstrings. And it still does.”
Today, the focal point of this natural spectacle is the Casa Novina, standing alone on a hilltop. This architectural work that spans the centuries arose thanks to architect Florencia Costa who, after tearing down an old building in ruins (the name of the house was already present in property records as early as 1765), designed and built the current home, inspired by medieval Sienese architecture.
“The landscape here never rests,” Tomaso explains. “Wherever you look and at any time of the day, though especially at sunset, it sends a message straight from the eyes to the heart.” The house’s materials ground it in the Val d’Orcia with three principal elements used in its construction: brick, stone, and wood. The result is an architecture that appears, both outside and inside, “majestic and at the same time simple, almost spartan, in keeping with the rural buildings of the area.”
The property is reached via a long private road, leading to a round entranceway in front of the severe stone facade that slows the pace of those arriving at the house. The grounds are planted with mostly native species and in front of the entrance an ancient well remains—a witness to the estate’s long history.
Ample spaces, restrained furnishings, pure forms, symmetrical designs, and natural materials assure that no elements of the house “interrupt the dialogue with the landscape,” says the owner. He entrusted the Florentine studio qart progetti with styling the interiors as well as the grounds. “It’s a garden that is not a garden as we often think of them,” he explains, “because it is made of the same material as its location.” And so the landscape design reflects the progression of rolling hills, creating areas where one can rest and look out at the infinite horizon. It responds to the winds that flow through the valley by “blocking it with barriers made of oaks and rows of cypresses,” standing “tall and outspoken” like those in a poem by another Tuscan writer, Giosuè Carducci.