For our wedding we hired a 17th Century Villa in Tuscany for a week at the beginning of June. We hired out the whole villa and a adjacent farmhouse to hold all our friends and family with a fairy tale idea that we were going to recreate a Rolling Stones style Nellcote experience.
The villa can also be hired by an apartment basis too if you feel like a slice of the good life but at a fraction of the cost. We viewed a number of similar villas across Tuscany but settled on Vistarenni as it had a really good aura, outstanding decor and many beautiful communal areas both in and outside to relax with friends and family. We wanted people to feel like they had space, could socialise as one big group or in smaller groups as they pleased. This was our friends holiday as well as our wedding so we wanted them to feel relaxed afterwards.
Radda-in-Chianti, which is a small hilltop town (and the location for our actual wedding) was humble and understated but very pretty at the same time. It was also only 5 minutes away from the villa, whereas many other villas had towns 20-30 minutes away.
We hired the 17th century villa directly through the friendly Elisabetta, who owns the property which has passed through her family having previously been owned by the noble family of Prince Ferdinando Strozzi and afterwards by the family of Baron Giorgio Sonnino.
The Villa’s unique and majestic facade dominates the hilltop and can be seen clearly from Radda and as you approach from Gaiole. The Villa is protected by the Regional Board of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Environmental Conservation.
However, Villa Vistarenni is not just a Villa but a 500 acre farm and working vineyard. In the stunning historical cellars beneath the Villa, excavated in the rock and vaulted by a brick cross vault, improves vast vats of the iconic Chianti wine, famous across the world. We purchased our wine for the wedding here, a bottle costs around 6-20 euros depending on the vintage.
The villas hosts a tennis court, swimming pool, table tennis table and function room. It also hosts a small chapel which can be used to hold marriage ceremonies, we preferred the town hall as it was only a five minute drive away. For our wedding we planned to have the reception and dinner outside the villa but due to unstable weather during the week we decided to book the function room, we were allowed to book this just 24 hours before the wedding which was very useful. The function room is very large and only costs 800 euros! I must mention that they also have a cleaner Katrina who cleans the communal areas everyday, a very helpful lady, she doenst speak English but strangely she seems to understand everything you say.
Villa Vistarenni has two buildings which hosts accommodation – other main villa and a farmhouse behind the Villa sandwiched between the tennis court and swimming pool.
The main villa has 3 floors, the first floor contains a communal living room which opens up onto the veranda overlooking the vineyard, two banquet style dinning rooms and a large hall connecting to the sweeping staircase. The second floor contains the most luxurious apartments.
We stayed in the ‘Villa’ suite which is made up of 3 large double rooms and one single. Our room was the Principe Strozzi – a large room with a vaulted celling and terracotta floor.
It is tastefully decorated with a mix of antiques and modern design pieces with two huge double aspect windows overlooking the vineyard and right out to Radda in the distance.
Outside our suite was a large living room with an extensive ‘honesty bar’, TV, large modern style sofas. Alongside this is study area overlooking the staircase, making a great wifi spot which our friends utilised – doors open from this onto the balcony with steps running down to the lawn.
The other Suites are all unique with poetical names like Bellina, Casina, Solaio, Togna some include 4-poster beds (Bellina), some slightly more traditional as you reach the second floor. On this floor my favourite suite has to be Solaio which comes with two double bedrooms with splendid views across the vineyard through smaller country-house style windows which I really liked. Both apartments are adjoined by a long dark corridor adorned with antique horse equipment, which makes the area feel atmospheric and spooky.
The farmhouse is an altogether more rustic affair, far cheaper and sadly does not boast the spectacular views of the Villa. The bathrooms and kitchens are decked out in 70s era tiling and probably some of the appliances are from that era too! However there is plenty of space and the kitchens have tables to sit down and have breakfast. There are two apartments in the farmhouse, these are well suited to families or a group of friends who are in the area for activities such as cycling – which is popular here.
Villa Vistarenni is one of my favorite places in the world, the scenery is breathtaking. From the pool-side there are views of vineyards and hills, from the facade you look down Vistarenni’s own vineyard and up to the picturesque town of Radda. The landscape is decorated with wonderful wildlife, birds of prey circle above, nightingales and cuckoos sing, wild boars rustle through the vineyard and my highlight – a wild porcupine scuttling up the driveway!
The majority of the crowd enjoyed laying by the pool each day, going for walks through the hills around the villa and dining out in Radda as well as the parties we had at the Villa during the week. What more could you ask for in a holiday?
Our friends on the terrace
The great advantages of using Villa Vistarenni for a wedding is that the villa itself becomes the reception, if you hire the whole Villa and Farmhouse as we did the only cost you may need to pay for is the Function room which is only 800 euros (we had planned to get married outside in the courtyard but obtuse weather meant this wasn’t viable).
To get married at Radda town hall costs 900 euros. The quaint chapel at Vistarenni costs more as you need to pay for a priest to come to the venue and then a translator if you are not Italian.
We adored the location of our wedding as it was in a covered courtyard overlooked by the town church and opposite a stunning shell adorned font. We knew it was small and our friends would spill onto the square but that added to the ambiance. Luckily Victoria has some damn fine skills when it comes to walking in high heels and was able to negotiate the steep climb on the cobblestones.
After the wedding we had a round of proseco at the bar opposite and then walked down to our car which are friends had decorated. As we walked down people cheered and congratulated us. People shouted ‘Bella’ at Victoria who did look beautiful. It was an amazing experience.
We worked with Katia and her team of caterers at Terra di Siena for the wedding breakfast (a post on the food will go up shortly). They provided the long banquet table, chairs and dj equipment. We also hired two huge antique chandeliers to hang from the trees which luckily were also able to be hung from the eaves inside the function room.
Victoria wanted to wedding to be low key with a rock n roll edge. We decorated the tables with bunches of lavender and scattered lavender seeds (she chose this as after our first visit each time she smelt lavender it reminded her of the terrace at Vistarenni), tiny terracotta pots with candles inside and petite, delicate glass vases which would hod just a few stems of lavender.
I drew the wedding invites, menus etc by hand and included all the things Victoria and I love, and reminders of what we had done together – an image of her horse Micro, reliefs from Angor Wat in Cambodia, a Wicca Man (our fav film), Vistarenni etc. On the back of each order of service I included quotes from our favourite icons like Anita Pallenberg, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon, Jean Paul Sartre. Victoria and our guests loved the unique touch (well, so they told me!).
For the late night party she had secretly purchased a huge box of latex animal masks which everyone loved…it gave it a real surreal vibe and called for some fabulous pictures.
Victoria and the beast (me!) dancing
We also decorated outside with hundreds of lanterns which gave such a pretty light when it came to making and cutting the magnificent cake.
Victoria and I making the cake
And also a low key place to clink glasses and have a chat.
Many of you have asked what was our first dance so I shall tell you…it was of course a Stones track, Gimme Shelter. A track very close to Victoria and I’s hearts.
I can recall finishing the wedding night laid by the pool with Victoria listening to our friends singing “There is a light and it never goes out’ by the Smiths and watching fireflies skip all around the night sky. Yup it really was that perfect. I cannot recommend Vistarenni enough as a wedding location.