What are the characteristics of the typical Tuscan farmhouse?
Certainly, when you think about a house in Tuscan countryside, you can think of nothing but the classic stone farmhouse, the so-called “podere” surrounded by typical cypresses and cultivated fields.
Once homes and workplace of peasant families, today modern residences rich in comforts that continue to maintain the same charm of the past, preserving the signs of time.
Specifically, what are the characteristics of these charming houses?
Almost always the current small farms develop on two or more levels, where commonly on the ground floor we find a big living area, while on the upper floors usually there are bedrooms.
The old farmhouses were built to accomodate peasant families who cared for and worked the land divided into plots of crops.
The house is flanked by a barnyard where threshing various cereals; the threshing floor was in front of the main facade of the house, located to the south, and was often the only paved stone; it was surrounded by one or more walnut trees that in summer made shade to allow some rest.
In addition to the main building, there were a few annexes facing North as a barn, a pigsty and also a chicken coop always made of masonry.
Inside, in the past, on the ground floor there were the stables for big animals such as cows, calves and horses.
There were also a bread oven, a well and a cistern for the collection of water, sometimes.
Normally around the house there were a few hectares of land of relevance.
The typical crops of Chianti and Val d’Orcia were and are wheat fields, vineyards of Sangiovese, Merlot and Malvasia. The olive groves scattered among the vineyards and on the slopes of the hills.
Going down to the valley instead, there was always wheat, sunflower fields and pastures.
Regarding to the architectural features, an inevitable testimony that binds the house to the territory is the use of natural materials such as the stone used in the construction of the thick walls that is left exposed both outside and inside the house, or how to forget the typical tiles used as roof covering.
These characteristics have been maintained over the centuries, from the beginning of sharecropping on sixteenth century, our houses are built with bricks, sandstone, travertine, and wood for the fixtures.
The interior elements that most of all retain the original charm of the house, are the terracotta tiles and the large beams of oak or chestnut wood which are composed of roofs and ceilings.
Beams, rafters and tiles rectangular or square red terracotta are typical components of country houses that in most cases are treated to the natural to enhance even more the interiors.
The serene stone as well as the travertine decorate the stairs and steps, the fireplace frame (the inevitable beating heart of the living area) and the lintels of the doors and windows. These openings were not big because, in winter, they had to keep the heat inside and in summer, do not let the heat in.
A sort of energy efficiency based on peasant knowledge of the passing of the seasons.
Therefore, there are many characteristics that identify a stone house and that make it the ideal environment to spend time in the countryside, perhaps the thing that likes most of all is its extreme simplicity that teaches us that to live well it really takes very little.
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