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What is a Tuscan Hamlet?

  • What is a Tuscan Hamlet?

    Picture in your mind the pretty hilltop villages dotted throughout the landscape of Tuscany and Umbria. Tiny collections of buildings perched overlooking the vineyards or working fields of the area. These are the 'Borgo's" (hamlets) of Italy.

    Originally Borgos were a collection of stone barns and farming sheds, connected by winding footpaths with a courtyard in the heart of the buildings, some garden areas and often a small chapel. The occupants of the borgos were share-croppers and their families, who rented the accommodation from the landlords when they were employed to work in the fields gathering crops or harvesting the grapes & olives. The borgos were generally in the heart of the countryside, on top of hills surrounded by fields, vineyards and olive groves so that the workers did not have far to travel to work.

    The industrialisation seen in Italy after the war and the decline in traditional agricultural farming methods led to an exodus of workers from the rural areas of Italy towards the towns and cities, leaving the borgos empty and unused and many fell into decline.

    With the expansion of tourism across the Chianti region over the last 30 years or so, private investment has meant that these tiny borgos have been re-invented into individually privately owned apartments and villas run under 'condominium' status with shared facilities such as swimming pools. Strict local preservation laws forbid any changes to the 'footprint' of the borgos and any exterior walls and window areas must remain exactly where they were. Original materials have to be re-used with tight controls on 'new' period-style materials being allowed in certain circumstances. Interiors, however, are allowed to be altered to ensure that high-quality fixtures and fittings can be installed. What you get today, therefore, is an authentic reconstruction of the borgo with the living accommodations divided to give private self-contained apartments, cottages or villas within the original layout of a centuries old hamlet.

    The hamlets offered by To Tuscany all have a history behind them and often photos of the original buildings can be found within the apartments showing you exactly how things were improved. Each property within the hamlet is self-contained and private with almost every apartment also having some private outside space, either a small garden area or terrace. There are communual areas such as the grounds, shared swimming pools and laundry areas (where available) and some even have tennis courts.  Their positions amongst the fields and vineyards always offer fantastic views over the surrounding countryside for you to enjoy.

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