A Creative Hotspot in Tuscany: Villa Lena
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A Creative Hotspot in Tuscany: Villa Lena

This unique eco-minded Italian retreat combines food, art and music

Most probably the coolest place on the planet – in the heart of Tuscany, between Pisa and Florence, to be precise – you’ll find Villa Lena. And it has all the good things going on: there’s a sustainable agriturismo, creative retreats, gastronomic experiences including truffle hunting (from 1 October), and a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the arts, all rolled into a magical stay.

A Creative Hotspot in Tuscany: Villa Lena

Exterior of Villa Lena


An agriturismo hotel-meets-retreat-meets-artists residency, at the heart of Villa Lena is creativity in all forms: architecture, design, artwork, food, and ethos. After all, the property is brought to you by contemporary art collector and a former curator, Lena Evstafieva, her husband, musician and producer Jérôme Hadey, and Parisian restaurateur and nightclub owner Lionel Bensemoun. Having seen an opportunity to bring together their experiences in the worlds of music, art, entertainment, film, fashion in once, unique place nine years ago, the result was Villa Lena.  

Situated within the province of Pisa, and set in 500 hectares of woodland, olive groves, and vineyards, there are 74 rooms and villas at Villa Lena, so guests can really tailor their stay, from boutique hotel rooms to private villas.

The accommodation features the recently renovated Fattoria, which dons superior rooms in ancient stables with vaulted ceilings, marble bathrooms and wooden floors, a short stroll from the restaurant and main pool. There’s also San Michele for those who want to be in the hub of the hotel – it’s in the same building as the namesake restaurant and bar, with six luxurious bedrooms, complete with en-suite bathrooms with bathtubs and French door-windows looking over the hills or to the 19th-century Villa – and they’re a stone’s throw away from the pool. The private villa, Casetta Bella, consists of three bedrooms, a self-contained kitchen, a large bathroom and its own outdoor patio area, as well as access to a private swimming pool, and it’s a 20-minute walk from San Michele. And lastly, there’s the choice to go big with the Maison Stento private villa, with its private pool, four en-suite double bedrooms, open-plan living space, outdoor terrace and kitchen – it’s an ideal choice for larger parties or families and a 20-minute walk from the hotel’s reception.

Villa Lena


There’s a whole host of things to see, do, experience and explore at Villa Lena, and for 2023, it has introduced new offerings in the form of fun and enlightening retreats that encourage creativity, collaboration, and connections amongst the curious, environmentally minded and adventurous travellers. As such, there’s Creative Retreats with Ana Kerin of Kana London, natural perfumery making, a summer solace break, and upcoming sees the October Harvest Festival Retreat, hosted by Marsano Team and Annett Kuhlman (11-16 October), the Autumn Yoga Retreat by Nina Butler (6-11 October), the 7-Day Yoga and the Cuisine & Dolce Far Niente Summer Retreat hosted by Robert Sidoti with Top Yoga Retreats (17-23 August). 

These retreats sit alongside an array of related events and workshops such as morning yoga, flower arranging, cocktail making, poolside DJ sets, water colour painting with Principal Instructor at The Florence Academy of Art Tanvi Pathare, and farm-to-table experiences that includes picking vegetables from their orto with the chef. There’s kid’s workshops and events throughout the year too, led by artists-in-residence, collaborators, and partners with foraging, collage, and culinary workshops.

Yoga at Villa Lena

To note, Villa Lena also produces its own wine on site, which provides an excellent excuse to tour their vineyard, and sample their vino, plus others from the local region – learning all about organic, biodynamic and natural wines along the way. In true Italian style, this is served with fresh focaccia and local cold cuts, how it should be.

Olive oil is also produced on the grounds, so there’s pasta making and olive oil tasting, with a chance to learn about the traditional and organic techniques used to harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the 2,000 olive trees on the estate.

For all those foodies out there, the pezzo forte must be the truffle hunt, pasta workshop and lunch, that starts from early October – mark it in your diary. The most anticipated autumn activity in Tuscany, amongst the estate’s 500 hectares is ancient woodland and wildlife including wild boars and tartufi bianchi. Join the ‘silent hunt’, which means visitors can search for some of the best white truffles in Tuscany but doing so with a respect for nature.

As well as this, The Villa Lena Foundation, the art foundation that runs alongside the agriturismo hotel, has introduced Open Days for the 2023 season whereby it opens its doors to national and international curators, collectors, arts professionals and guests of the hotel to visit the studios, share a meal, listen to talks, and learn more about the ethos and work of the foundation; offering a chance for multidisciplinary artists to grow their network.

With the rotation of artists comes new artwork of varying mediums on show, displayed in the public spaces of the hotel, left by the alumni for guests to admire (and purchase), such as a new digital photograph created by Stephanie Roland titled ‘The Explorer’ in Villa Lena’s Fattoria building. 

Take a stroll about the estate and visit the medieval park, Toiano Vecchio, which was once the site of a medieval castle. Centred around a hill, at one of the highest points in the region, the site features an ancient fountain, a shell-clad grotto, and Villa Lena’s largest organic vegetable garden. Former artists-in-residence and landscape designers Jocelyn Oppenheim and Kate Smaby oversaw improvements including the Sunrise and Sunset terraces that allow guests to take in the scenery. The park is open to the public on Sundays during designated hours, and open to the hotel guests throughout the season.

For those who want to go further afield, explore the towns and cities such as the small walled 13th century, medieval hill town of San Gimignano (30km), Lucca (60km), Siena (75km), or Florence (80km).

Crafts at Villa Lena


It goes without saying, food is central to Villa Lena, and along with the culinary workshops, every day is an experience and a complete foodie’s delight. Being home to the destination farm-to-table restaurant, Osteria San Michele, it serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual, considered setting, along with bar – just pull up a stool and try one of their cocktails (the VL Spritz) or one of their wines. 

Here, expect the very best of authentic Italian cuisine that uses Villa Lena’s natural larder and orto – simple, organic ingredients such as homemade pasta, freshly made cheeses, and locally sourced meats are made into spectator dishes. All washed down with organic wines (and for those who want a taste of Tuscany at home their wines and olive oil are available to buy via their e-commerce site, Cabinet of Curiosities).

What’s more, flowers are picked from their sustainably grown flower garden, and these blooms adorn the tables of the restaurant, and throughout the property. 

Villa Lena

Annabel Sougne


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Yellow sundress with white zigzag pattern.

La DoubleJ

Wavy Mini Dress, £390


A mini dress that’s relaxed in style but with plenty of head turning appeal, it’s designed for the sun. Crafted in Italy from cotton crochet in yellow and white, this cute number offers a swinging tunic silhouette – perfect for a throwover when the temperatures heat up.

Gold ring with multicoloured sapphires in a circle


Rainbow Cascade Eternity Circle Charm Ring, £910


A delicate, and sweet eye-catching piece of jewellery, this ring from Rosa de la Cruz is expertly made from 18ct gold, with its slim band that’s adorned with multicoloured marquise and round cut sapphires. You’ll love this beauty forever.

Pink raffia tote by Prada.


Prada Logo Crochet Tote, Rent from £118


Everyone’s been loving this Prada logo tote, and as well as classic beige raffia, it’s available in candy pink if you want to give a nod to Barbiecore this summer. Rent it Selfridges Rental from £118.

Yellow and pink silk kimono with embroidered flowers.

One Vintage

Zoe, Floral Yellow Embroidered Kimono, £750


A one-of-a-kind kimono, this is made from reworked embroidered silk, with a straight cut silhouette and straight, wide sleeves. When it comes to detailing, there’s silk floral appliqué on the front, while at the back, there’s embroidered florals. A gorgeous cover up. Size UK 10/12.

Italian leather sandals with a white criss-cross design.

Tamara Mellon

Dwell Sandals, £397


Made in Italy from soft vitello leather, these flats are available in off-white as well as black, and don a comfy foam padding as well as a cloud cushion insole.

Leopard print silk gown.

La Katz

Penelope Silk Georgette Gown in Leopard, £246


Part of the brand new Hotel Extravaganza line, meet this leopard silk number, the Penelope gown. Totally versatile, wear this semi-sheer dress by the pool or dress it up Elizabeth Taylor-style with jewels and heels. Gorgeous.

Pale blue halter neck swimsuit.

Heidi Klein

Ocean Tide U-Bar One Piece, £265


In the colourway of ocean tide, this beautiful one-piece is crafted from a sustainable textured honeycomb fabric. It’s also a customer favourite, part of the brand’s core collection; it features a plunge neckline with bespoke U hardware, as well as adjustable wide halter neck straps and removable padding. 

Barbara Sturm

Sun Drops SPF 50, £45


Providing SPF 50 as well as broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB light, these drops by leading skin expert Barbara Sturm protect and promote skin resiliency, with Cassia Extract, Vitamin E and Beta-Glucan. What’s more, they have a lightweight feel on the skin and are gentle enough for sensitive skin too.

Tortoiseshell frame sunglasses.


Morgan Oval Sunglasses in Tortoiseshell, £445


A solid lens in a tortoiseshell acetate frame, these Italian crafted sunnies offer a classic oval silhouette by layering acetate and titanium. They don 100% UV protected solid lenses.

Lisa Marie Fernandez

Linen-Blend Hooded Kaftan, £299


A cool hooded kaftan, this is made from a linen blend and lightweight fabric, and it features a drawstring hood along with slide slits. Team with a slider and an oversized raffia bag, and head to the pool.

Beige cotton yarn sleeveless cardigan


Smoky Sleeveless Cardigan, £190


A part of the ba&sh eco-responsible range (made from at least 70% certified* fibres – organic, recycled, animal welfare guarantees), this cotton yarn sleevless cardigan gives a ‘70s retro vibe. Wear with wide leg trousers, tee, or a slip dress.

Raffia bucket hat with embroidered Burberry logo


Monogram Motif Raffia-Effect Bucket Hat, £390


This raffia-effect bucket hat is crocheted by hand and finished with a contrasting Thomas Burberry Monogram on the front. Available in a white, pale blue, and black monogram.

Beige/white trainers with a gum sole.


Women’s Sneaker 51, £144


British footwear brand Grenson don’t just offer the best boots, but we love their ’70s-inspired running shoes too.

Made from perforated leather and suede detailing, there are various colour combinations including these white/beige runners, plus blue/white, multi green and red/green/white, to name a few.

Sand-coloured linen shirt dress

Usisi Sister

Gina Dress, £420


A new season silhouette by Usisi Sister, this beautifully classic dress (with a hint of playfulness) features a subtle scallop edge and is crafted in sand-coloured linen with a small cut out detail and fluted sleeves.

Sandals with thin leather wraparound straps.


Leather Sandals, £195


Crafted from smooth leather in a soft golden hue, these sandals feature super slim straps that elegantly frame the feet and wrap around the ankles.

Anya Hindmarch envelope pouch with smiley face graphic.

Anya Hindmarch

I Am A Plastic Bag Wink Pochette, £375


A slim, envelope-style pouchette printed with the iconic SmileyWorld® Graphic, this has been crafted from an innovative cotton canvas-effect fabric that’s made entirely from recycled plastic bottles  – and, like all AH pieces, designed to never be thrown away. 

Cotton Knitted V-Neck Midi Shift Dress


Pure Cotton Knitted V-Neck Midi Shift Dress, £135


A pure cotton knit dress from Jaeger, this is an easy-breezy wardrobe staple for summer. It features a deep v-neckline, is cut to a shift shape and hits just below the knee.

Distressed raffia beach bag.


Medium Leather-Trim Basket Bag, £345


A classic beige basket bag from Sensi Studio, this piece has been woven from Toquilla straw, giving it a firm yet lightweight construction. It also features lovely frayed detailing.

Cream linen-blend shirt worn with matching cream trousers.

Nobody’s Child

Cream Linen-Blend Boxy Button Front Shirt, £49


An easy to-wear-boxy shirt, throw this on with denim jeans or go matchy-matchy with the coordinating wide leg trousers. It’s made from a responsible ecovero viscose blend with a touch of linen.

Pink. blue and dark green bottles of dry shampoo against a pale blue background.

Duck & Dry

Sea Salt Styler 150ml, £23


For easy, breezy holiday waves, this all-natural texturizing spray from London-based Duck & Dry offers a mix of hold, volume and texture for a tousled look – even when you’re not by the beach. It’s made with no parabens, sulphates, or silicones. To switch up the look and channel your inner dolce vita, try the Blow Dry In A Bottle for volume and bounce.

Solid refillable perfume with Diptyque logo and a rose on the front.


Eau Rose Refillable Solid Perfume, £50


A great little solid travel perfume that is refillable, this scented wax gives hints of rose and sweet lychee.

Tom Ford travel perfume with gold lid


Eau de Soleil Blanc Eau de Toilette Spray, £36


For a handy travel spray that’ll transport you to the sun, this 10ml fragrance from Tom Ford features citrus and floral accords thanks to hints of bergamot, orange and ylang-ylang.

Small thin gold hoop earrings.


Simple 12mm Hoops in Solid Gold, £205


A simple pair of solid yellow gold small hoops, these call to all the minimalists – ideal for every day, you can wear them alone or stack them along the ear.

Black Anker portable phone charger.


Anker Nano Power Bank, £35.99


Keep the phone charged and the Tuscan content coming thanks to this Anker charger. It features a built-in Lightning connector, making it easy to charge your Apple devices without having to carry an extra cable.

Black polycarbonate suitcase


Extended Trip Expandable 4 Wheeled Packing Case, £775


Made with a recycled polycarbonate shell, this case is lightweight and resilient – perfect for longer trips. The exterior features an Integrated TSA lock for peace of mind, while inside there’s dual-compartment zip pockets and compression straps to keep it all in. The style is available in several sizes and colourways including black, navy, lilac, coral and mist.


A very special agriturismo hotel located in the heart of rural Tuscany, Villa Lena makes for the perfect break, offering a chance to be fully immersed in creativity, wildlife, and deliciousness. Just soak up the 19th century Italian aristocratic vibes (the villa was once owned by the Augusto and Tereza Del Frate – and it was a party spot even back then). So, whether you’re wanting a family getaway, a solo trip, to kick back with your other half whilst taking in the picture-perfect Tuscan landscape by the pool (complete with a glass of the Villa Lena’s own sparkling rosé, of course), or get stuck into a creative retreat to awaken the senses, this place will be your happy place. 

BOOK IT: Rates start from €260 for B&B double occupancy. villa-lena.it

Images courtesy of: Villa Lena, Marina Denisova, Christina Labey, Niklas Adrian Vindelev, Dan Sauer, Lottie Hampson, Annabel Sougne and David Kaliga.