Il Borgo di Galenda
Set in a 15th-century borgo in the hills of Tuscany’s dreamy Chianti Classico region, Galenda offers two beautiful apartments combining authentic historical architecture with modern interior design.
I imagined an unexpected place with unexpected details, which is how Umamma was born.
This property offers easy COVID-19 cancellation terms:
Umamma is proud to introduce a ‘full refund policy’: If you book Umamma, you will receive a full refund in case of cancellation in case of official travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How would you describe the apartment in a nutshell?
A panoramic, two-story loft with a secret pool in a historic Tuscan setting.
What was the inspiration behind Umamma?
I am a design enthusiast who was born and raised in Tuscany. When I was 25 years old, I left Italy to work as a creative director in advertising but my roots were still there. I lived in Milan, Paris, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Dubai but I knew that sooner or later, I would come back to perhaps work in Tuscany, looking for inspiration in the natural surroundings. I imagined an unexpected place with unexpected details, which is how Umamma was born.
How would you describe the atmosphere at the apartment?
Relaxed and true with a mysterious twist.
Please tell us about the interior design/architecture. How would you describe it?
New ways of reusing ancient structures were devised while all of the post-19th-century additions were completely demolished to rediscover the original form and materials of the building. The architectural design “sacrificed” what were thick, blind walls built as fortifications in order to open up the new living space to air, light and landscape, as well as the smell of the surrounding vineyards and olive trees.
Expressing a unique form of contemporary living in an ancient setting, the design of Umamma aims to convey both a sense of modern humility and the power of its structural advancement. The open-plan design and deliberately sparse furnishing of the loft create a careful balance between comfortable living and the ever-present aura spanning over a millennium. Overall, the effect escapes any preconceived style. The final result aims at a sense of peace and reconciliation.
What is so special about the apartment to you personally?
It brings back to life an ancient structure, with elements dating from the Roman and Etruscan age to the Renaissance while giving them a new function and meaning in unexpected ways. By removing the previously windowless facade, we’ve bridged the gap between the inside and outside worlds with its peaceful pastoral landscape. The pool is also quite special and was recently recognized as the “2019 Best Indoor Pool in Italy”.
Is the apartment best suited for couples, families, groups? What’s your policy on kids?
Aside from large groups, it’s suited to anybody else, from couples to families. Children are welcome but given the apartment’s layout and facilities, they should be closely supervised by adults.
Umamma is set across two floors. The first open space on the entry-level comprises a fully-equipped kitchen, two large interconnected spaces with panoramic windows overlooking the Tuscan hills while a more reserved studio bedroom with en-suite lies to one side.
The second open space features a master bedroom with a king-size bed, an additional lounge area, a master bathroom and a dressing room/storage space. Wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling glazing divides this space from the apartment’s loggia (covered terrace), which affords 180-degree views of the surrounding landscape and DaVinci’s Hills. The windows can be completely opened during the warmer months, merging the indoors and outdoor landscape into one and maximising the loft’s relationship with its natural setting.
In between the two wings is a hidden stairwell that takes you the “unexpected place”, a hypogeum spa and pool that’s reminiscent of Roman thermal baths.
While the loft is fully equipped for self-catering, a private chef can be arranged on demand. The spa/pool area is private for our guests and can only be accessed from the upstairs living areas. The water temperature and lighting of the pool can be adjusted at your will, with underwater seating in the whirlpool area that allows you to lounge and relax.
Designed to reinforce the sense of mystery and discovery (as well as its privacy), this underground level can be completely sealed off from the upstairs rooms. A giant retractable trap, flush with the floor of the master bedroom, can be opened by a custom-made mechanical system that seamlessly incorporates an industrial aesthetic into the ancient brick and mortar masonry work. Aside from maximising the versatility of the whole space, this kinetic system is also meant to introduce an element of playfulness and surprise. The floor suddenly pivots and tilts upwards by a hand-powered crank that’s connected to the floor via a series of customised elements – it’s so smooth and light that even a child could handle it with ease.
Almost everything is possible. The house already offers some activities with the pool and spa but you can also walk or bike along the Via Francigena. You can easily spend a day exploring the sights of Florence, Pisa and Siena or spend a day at the beach along the Mediterranean coast.
Highlights are the Renaissance architecture, the Chianti Hills and Fiorentina steak, all of which are easily accessible from San Miniato.
The apartment occupies a Renaissance building on one of the main squares of San Miniato in Tuscany. Perched on a ridge between Florence and Pisa, San Miniato is situated on the ancient Via Francigena, the main connecting route between northern Europe and Rome during the Middle Ages. It still exists today and attracts hikers throughout the year, many of whom stop in San Miniato along their pilgrimage.
Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Siena are the closest main cities, all-around a 30 minutes’ drive away. If you drive west for 35 minutes, you’ll reach the nearest beaches. There’s nothing else but the rural landscapes of Tuscany all around — sinuous hills, vineyards and olive groves.
This part of Tuscany still has many aspects to discover. The scent and views of the hills are breathtaking and many of the small villages are yet to be discovered by mass tourism. San Miniato still has a pure soul, a life of its own and authenticity. I think that’s a unique factor. Because not being touristy means you can preserve the local integrity, preserve their traditions and habits, which don’t need to change just to please people who don’t live there.
All of the seasons have their appeal in Italy and Tuscany enjoys them in full. Spring can be energising thanks to its colours and scents while autumn drags you into mystical and charming landscapes.
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