Our story began in August of 2005, when we first visited the abandoned convent. It was surrounded by dried up weeds and a worrisome absence of trees but we could only see it how it could and WOULD be. There was no electricity and a single toilet on the ground floor, which was totally open to the outside. There was no interior staircase, and the main hall downstairs had been bricked up into several pokey rooms. The level of the floor had been raised three times. There were legions of pigeons residing upstairs and glass was missing from almost every window. I vividly remember looking into the old stone well adorned with the crests of Orisini and Aldobrandeschi families as the cicadas screamed, tiptoeing down into the cool subterranean cellar carved from tufa, and gazing down the terra-cotta tiled hall from the top of the stairs thinking, THIS IS IT.
Right from the beginning, there was a mad planting of trees that has ebbed and surged over time but never really stopped. The addition of an ever evolving irrigation system feeding our various follies and garden projects (richly scented rose gardens- each one selected for its particular fragrant contribution; high walled jasmine scented "rooms" to retreat to at the end of a shady bay tree allee; cascades of crawling rosemary, hedges of billowing, pinkish white hydrangea; and a lavender maze from which we produce and distill essential oils and scented water of the highest quality).