The Free With Words writing retreat will take place in one of most historic and beautiful aristocratic villas of Tuscany. It’s a place with a past that will get the creative juices flowing.
Owned by the current Count Baldovinetti, the 17th century Villa Villalta stands majestically in its own walled garden on a Tuscan hill in a peaceful location on the southwest side of Arezzo, near the border of Tuscany and Umbria. From it's fantastic vantage point towards, it watches over the historic city that was once the domain of the Etruscans, who occupied the region north of Rome between the Arno and the Tiber to the west of the Appenines. The Romans then conquered Arezzo and it was used as a fortress to protect its people from intruders, hence the magnificent wall that circles the town.
On the other side, the villa is surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and woods, with views stretching out across the Casentino Valley as far as the eye can see. The villa’s role has changed many times over the centuries, acting as a home for workers who farmed the vineyards of the infuential Borghini Baldovinetti de’ Bacci Venuti counts, whose property in the area dates back to 1416. It has been recently renovated and turned back into its original form as a historic villa, with each of the nine bedrooms named after the latest count's race horses.
The Baldovinetti Family History
The Baldovinetti family had six Gonfaloniers and fourteen Priors in the Government of the Florentine Republic. Vincenzo Borghini dè Baldovinetti was a distinguished historian, literatus and Lieutenant of the Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici. He was rector of the Hospital of Santa Maria degli Innocenti in Florence and of all Grand Duchy’s convents.
The Grand Duke Francesco assigned Vincenzo the archbishopric of Pisa, which he refused because he had to deal with the business of the Grand Dukes in Florence. He was a law reformer in Florence and an architect of the rebuilding of the Duomo and the Baptistery. He edited ‘Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects’, written by his great friend Vasari.
Vincenzo’s brother, Angiolo Borghini dè Baldovinetti took part in The Battle of Lepanto (October 1571) as captain of one of the vessels of Don Giovanni D’Austria’s fleet, who was the commander of the Imperial fleet. He distinguished himself in the battle and was awarded with the title of Count Palatine by Don Giovanni, a title that Filippo, King of Spain, confirmed and made transmissible to the Borghini family.
The painter Alessio came from the Baldovinetti family, while two of the Borghini women, Teresa and Ilaria, became part of the Medici family by marriage.
Gianluigi Borghini Baldovinetti, as the last descendant, added the surname of the paternal grandmother De Bacci Venuti to the line. The Venuti family commissioned Piero della Francesca, to make frescoes of The Legend of the True Cross in the great Chapel of Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo.
In the library of the Castle of San Fabiano in Arezzo a safeguarded the book of the commission and the documents showing that a small farm was sold to pay the della Francesca for the frescoes.
Take a tour of the villa here.