The Majnoni Guicciardini Estate
The Estate covers 200 hectares on the hills of the Elsa valley in the province of Florence, facing San
Gimignano. Here we have maintained the crop diversification traditional in Tuscan farming.
The vineyards and wine production are the strategically most important activities, but the annual work cycle is integrated with other complementary activities such as olive growing, arable crops, woodland, and the upkeep of the Estate's premises.
We continue to work and conserve the especially beautiful countryside in this area, where natural formations blend with the spaces created by the work of men and women - for over two thousand years.
Vico d'Elsa is one of the many small towns that grew up to service the intense traffic that in mediaeval
times passed through the Elsa valley, a crossroads between the road systems coming down from northern
Europe to Rome (the Francigene) and the routes linking Florence to the salt mines in Volterra (the
Originally, the complex of buildings that today houses the Estate's headquarters was the village inn, or rather the hospital, a place for travellers to recover and for curing the sick. One credible theory of the origin of the Estate's premises, consisting of five separate buildings, is that they were bequests to the monks who ran the hospital.
Over the course of time the hospital was transferred to other buildings in Vico, while in 1500 ours became a private residence for a succession of Sienese and Florentine families, each of which left its mark in the form of a conversion, extension, fresco, cellar or granary.
Our family has owned it since 1870, when the Guicciardini bought it to merge it with the Cusona estate, a stone's throw across the valley. Francesco Guicciardini had seven estates. He came from an important Florentine family, was a politician (also a minister under Sonnino), and had seven children. In the early twentieth century the Vico estate came into the hands of his daughter, Marcella.
A few years later she married Massimiliano Majnoni, and went on to create many of the Estate's facilities still in use today. She built the granaries and cellars under the main threshing floor which overlooks San Gimignano, the house and Avanella cellar, and extended many tenants' farmhouses and their outbuildings, such as sheds and hay barns.
Marcella and Massimiliano's children, Stefano and Francesco Majnoni, had to face the complex issues arising out of the disappearance of share-cropping - when it was up to the tenant farmers to take decisions about crops and manage the countryside, coordinated by the steward and the land warden - and embarked on direct management by the landowners. This transition lasted some twenty years, from 1965 to 1985, during which time the foundations were laid for the Estate's production today.
In 1985, after the last steward left, Pietro - son of Francesco Majnoni - took over the management of the Estate. His professional background is outside farming and he spent the first few years learning the job. Since 1992 he has been responsible for managing the Estate's farming and winegrowing.
The Estate's headquarters
On the upper floors of the Estate's buildings, located at the southeast end of Vico, are the private
apartments of the various noble families that have owned them (they may be visited on request).
Access is from the town, through an eighteenth-century décor of stairways, frescoes and stuccoes leading to the main drawing room and bedrooms.
A smaller room takes us to the heart of the house, a tiny chapel covered in frescoes. It is the work of the excellent seventeenth-century painter, Giovanni da san Giovanni, and is dedicated to the Madonna and the episodes in her life, portrayed in six main frescoes and a number of other, smaller ones.
The west wing of the house gives onto a 'hortus conclusus' - a walled garden within Vico - and the main threshing floor facing San Gimignano.
The threshing floor takes us to the Estate's headquarters - offices, workshop and tasting room - on the ground floor of the building facing the fields. This part of the house consists of rooms used by the farm: cellars in brickwork or carved out of the tufa rock, mediaeval granaries, storerooms and production areas, such as the old olive mill which still houses the oil room (la coppaia) next to the tasting room.