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Peek inside the new restaurant at creative retreat Villa Lena

As pasture becomes woodland, woodland becomes olive groves, and groves open out onto neat rows of planted vegetables, the long dirt track winds its way up the dusty hillside to Villa Lena. Perched amongst 500 hectares of Tuscan hillside, this creative residence, agriturismo, and holiday getaway has been welcoming artists and hotel guests since 2013.

Now, a new chapter has been revealed: a restaurant collaboration between Michael Sager, Joshua Fontaine and Carina Soto Velasquez. Overlooking the original 19th century Villa, restaurant San Michele draws on influences spanning the Mediterranean and beyond, with a focus on local produce and provenance. Simplicity and authenticity find their way into house-made pasta and olive oil – harvest from any of the 2,000 trees on the estate – as well as freshly-made cheeses and locally sourced wines.

Photography: Louise Long (c)

Meanwhile, design is under the personal creative eye of founder & owner Lena Evstafieva. Furnishings are sourced from local flea markets or upcycled; set alongside pieces by local artisans – such as basketry by Giotto in Scandicci, or ceramics by Matteo in Montelupo. In keeping with the Villa’s handful of spaces – from its individual hotel cottages to the central 19th Fattoria building – final flourishes are on the walls: myriad contributions of former artists-in-residents. You’ll find floral designer Kristen Usui’s ‘Il Fantasma’ in the reception of the Fattoria – a 6ft lunaria (honesty plant) ceiling installation, foraged from the hotel’s grounds.

From the kitchen to its panoramic terrace, Villa Lena continues to be a celebration of creativity and views of the Tuscan landscape.

Photography: Louise Long (c)
Photography: Louise Long (c)
Photography: Louise Long (c)

Creative retreats: 9 havens for artists, writers and musicians



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