Villa Medicea di Lilliano: a new adventure for a Medici villa

11th-century Medici villa becomes wedding venue and more

Helen Farrell
September 10, 2015

Just 15 minutes from Florence, nestled among its own olive groves and vineyards, stands a wine estate  with a difference. Villa Medicea di Lilliano began life in the eleventh century as a watch tower, served as a Medici residence to Ferdinando II and Francesco Maria de’ Medici, and once held a banquet for the King of Denmark.

 

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Today, Villa Medicea di Lilliano, Wine Estate is home to Diletta Malenchini and her family, the latest generation of Malenchinis who have owned and cherished this estate for over two centuries. I spoke with Diletta as she embarks upon a new adventure, welcoming guests and holidaymakers into her home, a place that will quickly become the Tuscan wedding venue and vacation destination of your dreams.

The wonderful thing is to be able to share my family’s joy of living here with our guests.

 

Helen Farrell: Tell me about the new venture at Villa Medicea di Lilliano.

Diletta Malenchini: I began working here 25 years ago exclusively on the farming side of things. We started thinking about this new project three years ago based on that experience. Yes, we’d invite friends over, have guests stay with us, but the villa had all this empty space. For me, the wonderful thing is to be able to share my family’s joy of living here with our guests, to see these spaces filled with life. It might be a bit strange to see people wandering around the gardens, but I absolutely believe that it’s going to be a positive experience.

 

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HF: Then there’s this international side of your family, in Argentina. What’s their involvement in the project?

DM: We’ve always been very close to our family members in Argentina. My father was very close to my cousin Fernando’s father and Fernando is the architect behind this project. My brother, sister and I all spent time in Argentina after finishing high school and the Argentinian side of the family has often come over to Italy. Fernando has always travelled a lot: there’s always been this bond and he loves coming to Tuscany. Three years ago, he was staying with us and we were thinking about starting this idea. We were throwing ideas around but we were determined not to go down your usual agriturismo route. Fernando was inspired and developed the first plans based on our Argentinian family’s extensive experience in the hospitality and events management, with the Astilleros Milberg banquet rooms in Buenos Aires and the Relais and Chateau Hotel Resort Cavas Wine Lodge in the Mendoza province. Mendoza’s obviously very different to Tuscany, but there’s still that connection with vineyards. The last three years have been intense, wonderful and great fun: a breath of fresh air with people arriving from abroad to work on the project.

 

HF: The Malenchini family is famous above all for its winemaking prowess. How are things looking for this year’s vintage after last year’s disaster?

DM: To avoid bad luck, I always prefer never to say anything until the grapes are safely in the cellar. But after taking a walk around the vineyards, I can say that we won’t have a large quantity of grapes this year. I’m very happy with the quality, however. We were worried in late July due to the incredible heat and the lack of rain; the leaves were turning yellow and the grapes were becoming a bit stressed. But these recent storms, every ten days or so, are actually helping the harvest. We’ve started with the Merlot already and then comes the Sangiovese in mid-September. The olives are looking good, too: fingers crossed!

 

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HF: The perfect way to while away a September day in Tuscany?

DM: You absolutely have to take part in the vendemmia! Or, at least, see the grape harvest in action because the perfumes you smell during the vendemmia you won’t experience again for the rest of the year. Yes, we all drink wine, but not everybody knows what goes into the winemaking process. September’s a beautiful month for the colours in Tuscany, especially in these hills around Grassina. Immediately after the grapes are harvested, when the bunch is cut off the vine, the vine leaves start to change colour towards a reddish hue. Visit Mariani in Impruneta to see how terracotta pots are made. Maybe finish off the day with a cooking class to take you back to the essence of the land and what life is all about in Tuscany

 

To find out more about Villa Medicea di Lilliano, Wine Estate for vacationing, as a wedding or events venue, see www.medicivilla.com.

 

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