Interview with Laura Rontani from Ancora del Chianti, an Ecobnb & Art Retreat immersed in the green Chianti Hills
One day Laura and Filippo decided to leave the town for the wonderful Chianti hills. Here, besides a natural and slow lifestyle, they found the way to transform their hobbies -arts, sustainability, hospitality and agriculture- into a job. This is how this eco-friendly retreat came to life. A place where their family grows up together with the grapevines in Sangiovese, the studies about environmental sustainability and other green projects. If you are eager to know about their fascinating story, read this interview!
How did you come up with the idea of an eco-accommodation project among the Chianti hills?
The adventure started in 2000, when we moved to Chianti looking for a green and eco-friendly lifestyle. It was then that we decided to open our house to guests from all over the world, sharing our same life philosophy and hospitality.
Finally we can put in practice the values we believe in. During the years we have renewed the house, the barn and the atelier, taking care of the garden and the olive groves.
This is how the ancient and abandoned farmhouse became Ancora del Chianti.
In the meantime our family has grown up and when our sons Spartaco and Cesare were born, we decided to plant new vineyards in Sangiovese.
Filippo has been getting slowly more and more involved in the research and university teaching about environmental sustainability while I have been entirely dedicated to the guests and to the finding of new holiday suggestion: activities, gourmet stays and residential seminars offering art, yoga, meditation and photography courses in the art studio and the yoga gym, which has been recently realized.
What can you find as soon as you arrive at Ancora del Chianti?
Once arrived at Ancora del Chianti guests are surrounded by an unspoilt nature that they can enjoy with all their senses.
First of all you will be overwhelmed with the peace and silence of the place. You will listen to the birds singing all around and the wind blowing through the branches of the trees, then you will see the colours and smell the perfumes of the garden, you will taste the delicious local dishes and finally feel the emotion of a barefoot walk on a soft and scented grassland.
Leave the routine, enjoy the wonderful landscape and melt with a real, lively and plentiful vegetation.
What itineraries and “green” experiences do you suggest the most to your guests?
Since we are close to Florence, Siena and other attractive places of art, we suggest our guests should have a moment dedicated to themselves in one of the areas of contemplation that we created in our garden. Here guests will not just be able to establish a relationship with themselves and with nature, but also find a source of regeneration thanks to the hammocks, sun beds, wooden platforms and grassy turfs.
Moreover, being inspired by the landscape, the garden and the spirit of the place, we suggest artistic itineraries to the discovery of the magic properties of colours and shapes through painting lessons that resemble the Tuscan nature.
What is the eco-sustainable practice you are mostly proud of?
First of all the organic cultivation that lets us preserve the animal and vegetable biodiversity, which is what we aimed to do from the very beginning of our adventure. Our fields and grasslands are full of herbaceous species with colourful flowers, which are always overflown by butterflies and even very rare insects.
Moreover, about 44 different bird species have been identified living around the house.
The absorbency system works perfectly and thanks to the use of biodegradable detergents, the house has become also the favourite place of frogs, which keep company together with crickets, scops owls and nightingales in the summer nights.
Through the collection of rainwater, the water supply is enough to water the garden throughout the season providing flowers and vegetables without wasting drinking water, which is intended for other uses.
The composting of organic wastes lets us benefit from a rich and fertile self-produced soil for our plants and flowers every year… what a satisfaction!
What does it mean for you to be an “Ecobnb”?
To be an Ecobnb means to offer a plain and neat place, respectful of the environment and in harmony with the natural world. It means also to provide a way to live slowly, away from an hectic lifestyle and close to more ancient rhythms, where it is possible to feel deeply the seasonal changes, to find out the pleasure of a walk in the morning silence surrounded by the scent of the grasslands and to enjoy a genuine glass of wine while admiring the red nuances of the sunset.
Are you wondering how you can do to feel yourself so deeply till you can hear the universe breathing? Now you can do it in our Ecobnb!