Monday, May 11, 2009

La Foce

The soul of La Foce blossomed under the caring guidance of Iris and Antonio Origo. Iris Cutting Origo (an accomplished author) was born in 1902 from an American-Irish father and Italian mother and raised in Florence. In 1923, she became engaged to Antonio Origo from Florence and they set out to find their future home in the hills of Tuscany.

The now famous garden grew gradually, between 1925 and 1939. The house is surrounded by a formal Italian garden, which is divided into geometrical ‘rooms’ by box hedges with lemon trees in terracotta pots. Travertine stairs lead to the rose garden and a winding wisteria-covered pergola bordered by lavender hedge. Gentle informal terraces climb up the hill, where cherry trees, pines and cypresses grow among wild broom, thyme and rosemary, and a long cypress avenue leads to a 17th-century stone statue. Through the woods, a path joins the garden and the family cemetery, where Iris's son Gianni who died at the age of 7 was buried. The cemetery is considered one of architect Cecil Pinsent's best creations.

The inscription on Iris Origo's headstone comes from St Catherine of Siena. "Chi piu' conosce piu' ama, piu' amando piu' giusta"
The more your know, the more you love, and by loving more, the more you enjoy.

During the Nazi occupation of Italy, at considerable personal risk, the Origos turned their farm and villa into a safe haven for children from Genoa and Turin who had lost their homes and families in the bombings. They also helped escaped Allied war prisoners. In "War in Val d'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943 - 1944, Origo chronicles the crises and confusion of anti-fascist resistance at a time when Tuscany was crawling with Nazis.
(taken from "Desiring Italy" edited by Susan Cahill, Fawcett, 1997)

La Foce: Intersection - a place where paths intervene.

Every Wednesday, Benedetta Isadori conducts walking tours of the lovely La Foce Gardens. Although Benedetta is not a blood relation to Iris Origo, her mother lived on la Foce as a child and Benedetta was named after one of Iris's daughters - truly a life being lived from the heart.

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