Pienza / La Foce - 4 June

Near Pienza, located in the crete senesi (clay hills) of Val d'Orcia, is the remarkable regenerative residence of La Foce. In 1924, Antonio and Iris Origo sought out a villa and an area that needed their ministrations. Surely they were unaware of the overwhelming effort that would be required, as the land and people of that time were barren and destitute. Slowly they brought back the land through crop rotation, planting windbreaks and olive groves, and creatively restoring the villa, farmbuildings and garden with the help of Cecil Pinsent, an English architect. Today their labors are carried on by the daughters Benedetta and Donata.

La Foce is a place of commanding repose, deep grace and astonishing beauty. The smiles on the faces of Institute members were evidence of its power. It shows how a few individuals, with hard work and commitment, can create a home in the world that resonates beyond its borders and changes everything for the better. But in the first session of the day taking place in the Granaio, Casteleuccio, Benedetta Origo made clear that the work is endless and often thankless. This was seconded by Robert Pell-de-Chame with his continuation of the family's work at Fort Ticonderoga.

The photo above shows the Granaio (now meetinghall) and a farmbuilding that can be rented. It illustrates that urbanism begins when you have two buildings. Even in a rural setting, with nature beyond, this is where civilization begins. Just as one person alone does not make community, one building alone does not make urbanism. It takes two to tangle.

Ex Tempore members passed on the worthy second session to blend color and water up the hill in the Castelluccio ("little castle") that can also be rented and is the site of a chamber music festival in the summer - Incontri in Terra di Siena. Everyone else joined us for a tour and then down the hill to lunch at L'oasi La Foce.

Oh. My. God. What a meal! What did we have? I seem to remember olives, pinci pasta with hare sauce, braised wild boar and pana cotta with fresh wildberries. The exact meal was lost in the warmth of contentment and the fog of too much good wine. But it was delizioso, squizito!

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