Architecture in Tuscany

Country Homes and Villas

photos courtesy of Paul Duncan.

The country homes of Tuscany are distinctly regional. Each region's homes were built with the idea that form model function and with the raw materials local to that region; hence, while traveling through the countryside, the variety in villas and homesteads reflect variety in Tuscan lifestyle. Three of the main homesteads of Tuscany are the casette a schiera, the casa colonica, and the villa-fattoria.

Casette a schiera
The casette a schiera is a set of worker's homes that, through the years, have had storeys piled upon storeys, each of which varies in style and composition. On the ground floor of these homes, the workshop can be

entered from the wide, streetside door. A set of stairs, adjacent to the workshop, leads to the living quarters. Each floor in this area is approximately 12" by 50" and is divided into two rooms.

Casa Colonica (top center)
As the ancient upperclass moved in from the countryside to the cities, their abandoned homes were taken over by the peasants, the contadini. Before the development of the agricultural system, the mezzadria system, that binded peasants to the land and to a hard life, the contadini freely added more and more rooms around the already extant buildings, and, by doing so, developed the first casa coloniche. By the time the system had been developed in the thirteenth century, however, control of the land had shifted to rich landlords who supplied tools, housing, and a poderi (the patch of land farmed by a peasant household), in exchange for labor. As this system of farming grew more widespread during the following century, the need for economical housing also grew, and the answer to that need for housing became the casa colonica. Because of their duribility and utility, the casa coloniche are still common in the Tuscan countryside.

The villa-fattoria was the temporary country residence of wealthy landowners. Either centered admist the farmlands or off to the back, they housed the landowner temporarily for harvest or for special occasions. Some developed into country estates, or villas. A villa

in the Middle Ages...was conceived as a setting - inevitably with a garden - in which a man of culture could be at ease with his books, his thoughts and his friends. Having a country villa in the fifteenth century was a humanist ideal, and many an old castellated towerhouse was converted around this time, with gardens, loggias and porticoes. (Duncan 39)


Duncan, Paul. Traditional Houses of Rural Italy. London: Collins & Brown, 1993.

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