Originally, the estate consisted of the villa and 24 farmhouses, built to a plan that originated with the agrarian reforms implemented by the Lorraine dynasty that had its roots in France and starting in 1737, governed the Grand Duchy of Tuscany on-and-off-for decades.
The transition took place during the Enlightenment and involved considerable innovations, each farm was given about 10 hectares, to be worked on a share-cropping basis. Incentives were created for planting mulberries – to breed silkworms – as well as grains, olive trees, vineyards and tobacco. Crop yields increased markedly during that period, thanks also to the new instruments and tools that became available through the scientific and technological advances of the period.
Silkworm breeding was begun at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries following the Lorraine reforms. History tells us that this valuable insect was brought to the West thanks to the enterprising spirit of two Persian monks who, during the reign of the emperor Justinian, had fled from China with silkworms hidden inside a bamboo walking stick.
Tobacco farming was a much more recent venture: the first plants were brought to Europe from the New World aboard Christopher Columbus’s caravel’s, but it was years before they reached the Valdarno. Even today, a building called the tabaccaia on the level part of the Villa Monsoglio estate, speaks to the existence of this flourishing crop.
Early in the twentieth century, when the Da Cepperello Pasquali family took over the estate, and major growth was taking place, there were about thirty people – servants, farmers and livestock hands – working there.
During that period, the estate was used all year – as a summer residence and for hunting parties during the other seasons. Guests and friends crowded the rooms, following an established ritual: early-morning Mass and then they formed teams.
The hunting parties, for controlling pheasant and hare populations, were also festive occasions that brought nobles and farmers together, an opportunity to participate in a typical country event and to put some meat protein on the tables of the peasants and farmhands.
Today, with the villa and six farmhouses, the estate extends over 350 hectares.
The estate is part of the La Penna nature reserve of more than 1,000 hectares. Although the number of crops farmed on the estate has diminished over the years, we still grow grapes, olives and alfalfa . Thanks to an excellent micro-climate, Villa Monsoglio has always produced excellent wines, and that tradition continues today, as we make our wine and age it in our cellars.