There’s been a steady stream of journalists and photographers coming through Detroit lately, many of whom, like the Montreal-based travel writer Alexandra Redgrave (assignment: local craft for enRoute magazine), either stop or stay at Honor & Folly. It’s been great fun. After arriving from the airport (without her luggage), Alex and I grab a quick drink at Sugar House downstairs, and she gives me a recent copy of the magazine. Inside, I immediately spot a story she wrote about Tuscan farm estates, including Tenuta di Spannocchia–a gorgeous sprawl of a place with lemon trees, climbing ivy, crumbling farmhouses and animals.
“Spannocchia is rustic,” she tells me. “You’re not staying on a farm that was set up at the same time as the hotel to add to the overall bucolic experience; you’re visiting a working farm that has existed in some form or another for centuries. The spaces are sparse, with very simple furnishings but also a few unexpectedly ornate details.” Details that make you realize there’s something special at work. You know the type. A hand-painted porcelain sink covered in pink roses and a ceiling stamped with old family crests.
According to her story, the owner Randall Stratton has been running the 1,100-acre property for the last 20 years with his wife, Francesca, whose grandfather bought the land in 1925 to use as a writer’s retreat. Creative visitors have been leaving their mark on the property ever since–from a painter who is recreating Spannocchia’s entire history on the granary’s walls to an architecture student who helped rehab a guesthouse that previously sat abandoned for at least 30 years. My favorite quote from the owner, also an architect by training: “We’re not really restoring the property,” says Randall. “We’ve just adapted it to the modern world. I think it’s a monument to a way of life that has almost disappeared.”
To stay at Tenuta di Spannocchia, you have to be a member of the Spannocchia Foundation (it’s $45 a person or more, depending on membership level). Once that’s ironed out, you can rent one of the guesthouses, starting at about $1000 a week in low season. Or an individual room in the b&b for $113 a night.
[Photos from top: Danilo Scarpati (top two), via Tenuta di Spannocchia, Alexandra Redgrave, Danilo Scarpati, Alexandra Redgrave (last two)]