Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 26, 2015

La Foce…a magnificent garden in Tuscany

La Foce lies close to the Tuscan towns of Montepulciano, Chiusi and Chianciano Terme in the Val d’Orcia.

The 15th century villa was restored by Anglo/American Iris Origo and her husband, Marchese Antonio Origo in the 1920s. She was the daughter of a very wealthy man who died when she was a child. Her mother rented, then bought Villa Medici in Fiesole, near Florence, where Iris was brought up.

Under the management of Iris and Antonio the property was turned from an arid, desolate, poverty-stricken group of farms into a beautiful estate in the ‘crete senesi’ (clay hills). They brought prosperity, cultural and social changes to the people who worked the land. At its height the estate had 57 farms over 7,000 acres.

Crete senesi…clay hills.

Crete senesi La Foce

Today the estate is owned and managed by Iris and Antonio’s daughters. It is possible to stay in one of the apartments or the B&B on the property, or, as we did, visit the garden. It is open to the public for a small fee on Wednesday afternoons.

The garden was designed by family friend, Cecil Pinsent, who also designed the garden at Villa Medici.

It is a simple, elegant garden filled with perennials, green enclosures, box-edged beds and walks lined with soaring cypress trees.

La Foce


La Foce

Come for a walk through this delightful garden. We began at the wisteria tunnel…I want one!


La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

On one side of the tunnel are gorgeous beds filled with peonies, roses, acanthus and more.

La Foce

La Foce

On the other, steps lead down to the more formal gardens.

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

The most outstanding part of the estate is the Strada di Valoresi, which has surely inspired many other scenes in Tuscany.

La Foce

La Foce

La Foce

Iris Origo was also an author. I have just read her book “War in Val d’Orcia”, which tells of the awful time during WWII when the Origos were caught in the middle of fighting in the area.

They had taken in 60 children and helped escaped prisoners, partisans and refugees struggling to find food and shelter. I recommend it highly. When you experience the beauty and tranquility of this lovely place it is almost impossible to imagine the misery that was inflicted in those horrible times.

La Foce

La Foce…

Strada della Vittoria 61,

Chianciano Terme.

(39) 0578 69101



  1. That is seriously beautiful!

    • It is one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. I went straight back to Casa Debbio and spoke to my wisteria. I want it to grow like that!

  2. Deb, just love that garden especially the purple blooms like a jacaranda, only probably not. Also that photo of the tuscan pines on the winding tuscan road is a similar shot to what Lisa Clifford used on the cover of her book. – lovely post. x

    • It is wisteria. I have had a pergola built at Casa Debbio for my wisteria to grow on and there will be another built in September when I return. I am quite sure that the winding road with the trees is the inspiration for many similar roads in this area of Tuscany.

    • This is beautiful MY Thanks —-

      • It is a gorgeous garden.

  3. Wow!

  4. Incredibly beautiful! Worth a visit, thanks for the tip, Deb!

    • It is stunning, you would love it.

  5. Amazing pictures of a beautiful garden! I want to go and spend some time there!

    • You can stay there. I want to go too.

  6. Stunning

  7. Aaaaaaaahhhh. Thanks for the photos!

    • It is a gorgeous place. I wanted to move in. I hope Casa Debbio has that effect one day.

  8. OMG. The formal gardens are stunning. There again is the wisteria. I love it. The Tuscan hills are breathtaking

    • You would have loved the wisteria arbour, it was glorious.

      • Yes I am sure I would

  9. Relaxing, beautiful, and in a wonderful setting.

    • The garden is wonderful. I would love to spend time wandering there.

  10. Thanks for this lovely account. The garden tour is such a treat. Besides her book “War in Val d’Orcia,” you would likely enjoy “The Merchant of Prato,” based on the accounts of a wealthy cloth manufacturer who provided fabric for the cardinals in Avignon and “The Last Attachment,” about Lord Byron and Teresa Guiccioli. Her nonfiction reads like fiction. Besides being able to visit the gardens of La Foce, you can also visit the estate in Fiesole where she grew up, by reservation or on the occasions when it’s open to the public for a garden tour.

    • I will look for her other books and will definitely try to visit Villa Medici.

  11. Delightful indeed!

    • We were lucky to be there when the wisteria was in flower.

  12. I see what you mean Deb. This place looks like the classic Tuscan dream. Your photos are exquisite.

    • It really is lovely. I love the wisteria. I guess mine might look like that in 50 years.

  13. A breathtakingly beautiful place and the rich colours of those flowers – absolutely stunning. Lovely photos.

    • We were so lucky to be there when the wisteria was in bloom. It was a bit late this year.

  14. Wonderful garden, we have wisteria all over the front of our house, it’s very old, but we look after it and it always flowers well. In fact it can be quite a brute if you let it get out of control, but I love it. Thanks for the photos.

    • Wisteria can get out of hand, I know, but it is so beautiful in spring. I have had a pergola built for mine to grow on.

  15. Absolutely stunning, Deb!! x

    • Isn’t it a gorgeous place…such an inspiration.

  16. Fantastic photos of such lovely gardens…it is now on my list of places to visit.

    • I read Iris Origo’s biography, which inspired me to visit the garden. She had an amazing life.

  17. Magnificant! What more can you say. I looks like the weather was perfect on the day you visited.

    • It was a beautiful day…perfect for a drive through the Tuscan countryside to La Foce.

  18. What incredible gardens! And I loved the back story behind it too and how they helped out so many people.

    • Their biggest achievement was transforming the desolate farm into something enduring and productive.

  19. What a STUNNING place! Seriously, the gardens are magnificent. Cool that Iris wrote a book and that the family helped so many people. I’d love to read it.

    And just so you know. This summer I’m going on two-month RV trip with my nearing-ninety Godmother and her cat Pepe le Mew. I leave for the US in a week. The RV is huge, 37-feet. My Godmother will be driving and towing an SUV the entire way. She was a Flamenco dancer during her entire professional life. I’m going to try to blog about our trip and write a book about the 64 beautiful years she and my Godfather, a Venezuelan movie star (I kid you not!), were married, until Raul died last fall one month shy of his 97th birthday.

    Hope you are well. Sorry to have been away so long! And thanks again for the LOVELY photos!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Nice to hear from you. Your new venture sounds like fun, I look forward to reading about it.

  20. These pictures are breathtaking! Thanks for posting!

    • La Foce is a beautiful place to visit. I will be back next spring.

  21. Reblogged this on Spotlight On Travel and commented:
    Gorgeous Gorgeous Gorgeous

  22. I read the book many years ago but never visited La Foce, it is stunning, thank you for the tour Debra.

  23. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in such a beautiful place.

  24. […] visited a magnificent garden in Tuscany. La Foce was begun in the 1920s by Iris Origo and it is now open to the public on certain days…I will […]

  25. […] here to see the post…and more of the gorgeous garden… I wrote last year. La Foce…a […]

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