Borgo Argenina’s Story
I first spotted the five fairytale stone houses nestled in the rolling Chianti hills during a weekend break in Tuscany in 1991, when I was living and working as a fashion designer in Milan.
It was love at first sight for me, despite the dilapidated state of the buildings, which had been completely abandoned for more than fifty years. This enchanting medieval hamlet had previously been home to peasant farmers who worked the land of the local baron as far back as the 10th Century. Its name derives from the Italian word “Argine”: the boundary between the territory of Chianti and that of its rival, Siena. In 998 AD, Baron Ricasoli donated Borgo Argenina’s land and the houses to the monks of the Badia a Coltibuono monastery, who were the first to mention it in their writing.
I tried to imagine what it used to be like when farmers lived here, toiling on the land all day and surviving without electricity and running water even in the twentieth century. It was fascinating for me to see the hamlet just as the peasant farmers had left it. Each house had been built to reflect the skill of each farmer.
For me it was love at first sight. It was as if I’d had a vision. I felt in my heart that Borgo Argenina was the place for me and I knew my mission was to restore it and turn it into a beautiful and very special Bed & Breakfast.
Bringing the old hamlet back to life
I began the strenuous task of restoring my precious rundown village in March 1992, after I moved to Gaiole in Chianti with my 10-year-old daughter, Fiorenza.
There I met Almo and his sons, a skilled family of Tuscan craftsman specialized in restoration of old stone houses.
Working side-by-side with them and bringing the ruins of the hamlet back to life, was one of the most exciting experiences for me. We grew close during the 5-year restoration of these ancient buildings, and I now consider them my special Tuscan family.
When we began there was no electricity, no heat, no running water, and you could barely see what was left of the buildings due to the rampant weeds and the crumbling roofs of the stone houses.
During the following five years, we scraped, hammered, plastered, and painted-sometimes through the coldest of winters – to turn these neglected ruins into the most authentic and beautiful place to stay in Tuscany.
My dream finally came true when we officially opened the B&B in 1998: Borgo Argenina was alive again.
One day an American writer showed up…
One day, when we were still working on the finishing touches, an American writer showed up to see our new B&B: Rick Steves.
He spent his time wine-tasting, touring, and enjoying the stunning Chianti scenery from our hamlet, and since then he has recommended Borgo Argenina in his travel guide books, the “Rick Steves Florence and Tuscany Guide”.
A few months later, many other travel writers came to visit us. They admired the rose gardens, contemplated the views of the hills and vineyards and enjoyed Chianti’s wine and culinary gems, then left inspired to write reviews about our charming and special corner of Tuscany.