Wish We Were Here: Villa Lena
An artist's retreat in the Tuscan hillside captures the imagination
You may be tempted to conflate "artist's retreat" and "commune." The first phrase conjures images of the second, of sun-dappled hillsides where free spirits become one with nature and, hopefully, hone their craft in the process. Villa Lena, a new hotel and art foundation set amidst 1,200 acres of lush Tuscan countryside, embraces that duality, giddily straddling the line dividing form from function, presenting itself at once as an ecological paradise and refuge for the creative elite. Founded by the haut monde of young Paris, the hotel at Villa Lena houses an artist's residency in addition to six apartments, two rental houses and a converted stable. The main house and surrounding buildings date back to the 18th-century, though owners Lena Evstafieva, Jérôme Hadey and Lionel Bensemoun (an art consultant, musician, and entrepreneur, respectively) enlisted Paris-based designer Clarisse Demory to breathe new life into the property using reclaimed and vintage furniture from the likes of Børge Mogensen, Ettore Sottsass and Achille Castiglioni. The resulting aesthetic is chic and unfussy, down to earth but instinctually regal.
Artists are invited for two-month residencies at the eponymous foundation, during which time collaboration and cultural exchange are encouraged, and facilitated by the Italian-French menu from chef Hélène Bouchardeau, formerly of L'Arpège. There is also a pool on the grounds and music, dancing and mingling are par for the course come summertime. For more information you can find Villa Lena on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.