It's been nearly ten years since I put this place down on my list of places I'm saving for myself and want to visit. I don't know how it was exactly that I came across La Piantata in the virtual world; the only thing I'm sure of is that I'm happy I did.
For a long time now I have known that this is a special place and I'm looking forward to one day e-mailing my husband a booking for a few blissful days in this paradise. Or maybe I'll send it in a letter; it somehow seems more appropriate to this place and the way you are supposed to find out about it.
The story behind La Piantata is lovely: a husband and wife turned this place into one of its kind and then went on to include their two daughters and their respective families. It is a place where, I'm certain, people create the most wonderful memories that allow them to conjure up the scent of lavender, a warm breeze and that slight pain in the corners of your mouth caused by a smile that simply won't quit. Not even for days after leaving this place. Or rather, after climbing down from the tree house... And where did that come from?
In the beginning there was a man called Renzo Stucchi, who left his high-ranking position on the Board of the Cacharel company as well as his Milan address and moved to a small village in Lazio Maremmi, called Arlena di Castro. There he bought a farm that dates back to the late 18th century, surrounded by olive groves and a lavender field.
The catalyst of the process that was to follow was a huge oak growing on the estate. That oak became the starting point of what is now La Piantata. In 2005 the first tree house opened - now called Suite Bleue - 8 meters off the ground, in the beautiful Toscana with Tarquinia silhouetted along the horizon.
Apart from this unusual tree house, Agriturismo La Piantata boasts another one that is called Black Suite and is just as impressive. Guests can also enjoy in one of the rooms at the hotel on the estate.
Since life has a way of writing the most wonderful stories, after so many years and in this very place I finally got the opportunity to have as my guest the owner Renzo Stucchi and ask him some questions that have intrigued me for so long.
How did La Piantata's story begin?
I started out as pastry chef in Milan when I was 15, which is why I still do desserts for the guests. At 24 I met my wife who worked for Cacharel in Paris and following her passion for fashion, I managed to open the first Cacharel salon in Milan in the 1970s. For me fashion was love at first sight that lasted for thirty years. My CEO position in Cacharel Italia between 1977 and 2001 required knowledge not only of fabrics but furniture as well.
That is how I came to discover Provence with its endless lavender fields and delightful shabby chic fabrics. In 1999 I finally decided to move out of the city to look for a simpler and slower pace of life in the country. It was important to me to find something just as beautiful as that Provençal landscape. It was then that I came across an abandoned farm, overflowing with lavender, which I reconfigured and decorated with Provençal fabrics and furniture. That is where I initially started to grow lavender and today we have over 15 hectares of lavender.
As you yourself have said, for 26 years you held a high-ranking position in Cacharel and just when you got the chance for an even greater success in fashion industry, you decided to resign and start all over again. Was that a brave or a crazy decision at the time?
What can I say... I followed my passion and my heart.
The great thing is that my entire family shares in this choice that I'd made and in this passion. My wife is in charge of selling natural lavender-based cosmetics that we produce ourselves and we also have a small shop in Toscana, called Essenze d'Etruria.
My daughters Cinzia and Elisa take care of the bookings, web page, social networks and press relations. My sons-in-law Graziano and Nabeel handle the maintenance and event planning.
Do you stay at the Treehouse often?
Not really because we're always booked solid. But when we close down in February, after San Vantino, we take up residence on the tree for two weeks.
The media often refer to La Piantata as “once-in-a-lifetime escape for visitors“. Do guests really stay here only once or do they come back?
They do come back, of course, every year, to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday or simply for a romantic break.
They just want some peace and quiet, some romance or they wish to surprise their significant other with an exceptional experience. What usually happens is that they find much more than they expected so they leave with a great feeling of contentment.
What is the best time to book one of the tree houses?
"The best" time coincides with the months when lavender is in full bloom, i. e. with June and July (roughly between 20th June and 15th July), but each season has its own charm.
In winter trees are bare and air is a little bubbly, but the snow-covered landscape is very impressive.
In spring nature awakens - roses and all kinds of flowers blossom; in the fall leaves display gorgeous colors.
But of course, it is in summer that our signature plant lavender blooms, the fields are suffused with purple and its scent is simply everywhere.
What can you experience in a beautifully designed treehouse?
The time spent with your loved one, enjoying a sunset. It's an ideal place to savor the moment and make time stop.
The skies there are starry; you are lifted eight meters up in the air, away from the humdrum of everyday chores... There is this unique feeling of spending your holidays in the wilderness, but without forsaking any of the amenities.
Daughters of Mr. Renzo Stucchi have sent in a stack of photos of this place, which has only made me love La Piantata more. Has the time come for me to make reservations for the following year when my tenth anniversary comes a-knocking?