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The system of the Ville-fattoria in Chianti Classico

Date of Submission: 24/04/2023
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Italy to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Tuscany, Florence and Siena
Coordinates: X=1670987 Y=4841850; X=1706400 Y=4841850; X=1706400 Y=4801050; X=1670987 Y=4801050
Ref.: 6654

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The territory of the Chianti Classico (74,402.81 ha), which is the object of this nomination proposal, extends within the Tuscany Region of Italy, between the two provinces of Florence and Siena. It comprises the entire municipalities of Greve in Chianti (FI), Castellina in Chianti (SI), Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Radda in Chianti (SI) and partially those of Barberino Tavarnelle (FI), San Casciano in Val di Pesa (FI), Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI) and Poggibonsi (SI).

Characterized by a continuous human presence from ancient times to the present day, this territory is evidence of the processes that historically have outlined the agricultural lands (contadi) of the two dominant cities, Florence and Siena. They represent the most significant forms of landscape evolution undertaken since Renaissance under their assets of settlement, production and layout.

Although for a long time isolated from the main linking routes, this territory has always been object of constant attention from the two cities. They made it the proclaimed spot for their politics of renovatio (cultural, social and productive revival), after the major decline that occurred with the black plague and the ongoing epidemics and famines that scourged Italy as well as most of the other European countries during the second half of the XIV Century.

It is with this policy of re-launch that new forms of land estate organization, alongside new forms of settlements were put in place. They are expressed by the Villa -fattoria system (1), which surpass the medieval systems of individual parcels of land based on a subsistence economy and replaces it with management models of the estate focused on the entire economic chain, from the tilling and cultivation of the soil to the production, commercialization and promotion of the goods. This transformation is followed by the creation of the new figure of the administrator to whom the landowner entrusts the coordination of the Estate activities (Fattore) (2).

In this framework, a policy of overall reformulation of the medieval territorial structure is outlined. This policy sees the reuse of pre-existing settlements (castles, villages, abbeys, parish churches and farmhouses) into Ville- fattoria capable of playing a strategic role for the new territorial economy and at the same time their reconfiguration according to typological, stylistic and technological principles and canons of the Renaissance. Alongside the reconfiguration of the architectural artefacts, a process of replacement of the old medieval soil arrangements (according to the maximum slope, “a ritocchino”) is also outlined, with the introduction of new techniques for production improvement and erosion control. These objectives are realized through the construction of horizontal arrangements of terraces sustained by dry-laid stonewalls, made of reused material produced by tillage operations on the land or by hogback (ciglioni, small plots on narrow grassy terraces) arranged according to the land level curves.

This action of renovatio of the historical settlement and agroforestry production of the Ville-fattoria has impacted the Chianti territory, especially from the second half of the XVI Century when, with the end of the long-lasting wars between Siena and Florence, the area was no longer a frontier line and confrontation spot.

The renovatio is, in fact, the evolution of a process that already started in Chianti during the XIII Century, which saw the acquisition and the merging of small rural properties thanks to a new interest that the cities of Florence and Siena had for the countryside. The investments of the tradesmen in the agricultural areas brought to the creation of single productive units called poderi (3), ran through the sharecropping system. The podere, other than the buildings needed for the production activity (huts, stables, farmyards, wells, barns, warehouses, mills and cellars), included also the house of the sharecropper and his family.

The characteristics of the evolution of scattered settlements around the cities can be spotted in the books of L.B. Alberti (“Da re aedificatoria”; “The Family in Renaissance Florence: on the management of Family”). The author describes the material and immaterial advantages of land ownership for a citizen (“to keep the house stocked with wheat, wine, fodder, wood”; to live in places located “in pure air, in happy villages, with beauty to sight”, where can “shepperd your family all year”, thus ensuring a careful management and a constant control of the whole property) and the various forms that the countryside residencies were taking (“Palaces for Gentlemen” often “with the shape of fortresses, of castles, of superb and lavish edifices”).

It was however mostly with the end of the wars between the two cities and the fall of the Republic of Siena in 1559 followed by the handing of its territories under the Medici’s dominance that the creative re-launch lead by Florence and Siena, initially limited, will spread in the entire Chianti’s territory. These actions will determine the peculiar features, still visible today, of its settlement model, still recognizable under its historical, structural and identity profile.

The territory of Chianti, bordered from the eastern side by the homonymous chain of Mountains that separates it from the Valdarno Superiore region, consists of three different morphological areas, all of them linked structurally, functionally and historically by the Villa-fattoria system. These three parts are: a mountainous chain strongly marked by the hydrographic network and almost entirely made of woodlands; another more extended area of hills intensively cultivated and settled; a limited area of valley floors of the most important rivers (Elsa, Pesa and Greve of the Arno River basin, Ombrone and Arbia of the Ombrone River basin).

The mountainous chain, which is the backbone of Chianti, has an altitude between 500 and 892 meters above sea level on its highest peak (Mount San Michele). It is formed of sandstone locally called “Macigno del Chianti” (which literarily translates in Chianti’s boulder). This rock, of sandy texture, not limy, set in thick layers of several meters and interbedded by finer materials (siltstone or shale), represents the top layer of the geological unit formations of the Tuscan domain, predominantly oriented on the North-West/South-East axes.

This mountainous chain is characterized by a dense and vast deciduous forest cover (mainly forests of Turkey’s oaks, Downy’s oaks and chestnuts trees) and, on the soils less suited for agricultural exploitation, by reforestation of conifer trees. On the chain are present arboreal vegetation of remarkable environmental value (Zona speciale di conservazione – ZSC –Special zone of preservation – Mountains of Chianti) and fluvial ecosystems, streams and torrents, of important conservation value.

Around the historical centres and the Ville-fattoria, which compose the intersections of the settlement structure network of the entire site proposed, are present, interspersed among the wooded areas, cultivated fields of predominantly vineyards and olive groves usually preserving their traditional layout. They are unreplaceable evidence of the main forms of human occupation that, starting from the Renaissance, have interested the most steep and high lands. Most of them are now under specifics restrictive measures of preservation.

The hilly area, from 300 to 500 meters above sea level, represents the vastest part of the entire site proposed. Consisting of the Flysch of the Sub-Ligurian geological domain, which are composed of alternating limestones, marn and shale (locally called Galestro), shows an articulated morphological structure with deep hydrographical markings of the slopes and a high variation of the acclivity and of the exposition.

Inside the hilly area are present oak woods and cypress groves of the highest naturalistic-environmental value (Bosco di Barbaione, Bosco di S.Agnese) and, in continuity with them, we find river ecosystems of specific environmental value.

Unlike the mountain range, this area sees predominantly cultivated areas over wooded areas. It shows the prevalence of the Villa -fattoria and of the agro-forestry mosaic, mainly characterized by alternating olive groves and vineyards, variously interspersed with wooded areas.

The polycentric settlement system, present in the Tuscan hills, takes here its own specific connotation thanks to its integration with the reticular system of Villa -fattoria, characterized here by its particular "comb" type (“a pettine”).

All the major urban centres belong to the polycentric settlement system (San Casciano and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Castellina in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti). They are built mainly in the Middle Ages along the ridge viability with control function over the territories crossed.

These centres and the ridge viability are connected to the Ville-fattoria through a “comb” viability system arranged along the secondary ridges. The Ville -fattoria are, in turn, connected to the sharecropper’s house (usually located on the hillside) and to the mill on the valley floor. This location highlights not only the plurality of their roles as centres of productive organization as well as leisure and residential home, but also their foremost importance in the establishment of the structural, morphological and identity characteristics of the entire territory.

The whole area shows an outstanding level of integrity of its inherited structure, which sees the continuity not only of building assets of monumental and documental value, but also of the hydraulic agricultural arrangements, of the viability net between the centres, between the poderi and their furnishing elements.

The valley floor areas, between 200 and 300 meters above sea level, consist of marine or fluvial deposits, generally with little or no hardening. These sedimentary deposits formed during the settling tectonic phase following the Apennine orogeny (Miocene-Pliocene phase). The presence of bigger water streams characterizes the most extended valley floors, which represent the main corridors for the ecological net, consisting of riparian zones of willows and poplars.

Amongst the main centres built as market towns in the medieval ages for the commercialization and exchange of products stands out Greve in Chianti, located along the homonymous river, on the intersection of the two main roads that connected Florence with Siena, and transversely the Valdarno Superiore with the Valdelsa.

All the features above mentioned are the result of the main processes of territorialisation, developed from the XV Century and especially after the year 1559 when, with the fall of the Republic of Siena, the entire territory becomes subjected to the Medici sovereignty through Cosimo I. The Chianti allegory, part of the great cycle made by Giorgio Vasari at Palazzo Vecchio to honour Cosimo I, highlights the importance covered by this Ager (Countryside) compared to all the others conquered. The Painter identifies it for its fortified centres and for its agricultural productions (in particular wine) as place of highest value.

An acknowledgement of the elements that distinguish the settlements in this particular historical phase arises from all the contemporary iconographic records. Among them, the series of maps Piante di Popoli e Strade, Capitano di Parte Guelfa, realized between the year 1580 and the year 1595, which report the network of the existing roads and the location along them of the settlements and of the isolated constructions, with their denomination and their fundamental typological traits.

Equal claims emerge from the financial records of some Ville-fattoria which, written on the XVII Century, highlight the centralization that took place since the XVI Century on the management of their poderi (until then managed individually). They also contain the information that the first experiences realized in Chianti have been Brolio, Meleto and Coltibuono, all of them going back to the XVI Century.

The same affirmations also emerge from the XVIII Century ancient inventories (Cabrei) (4), reproducing the Ville- fattoria belonging to the major religious institutions (S. Maria Nuova in Florence, S. Maria Della Scala in Siena) or to the main families of the two cities, largely still preserved in the existing public and private archives. They reproduce, for each Villa-fattoria all the individual poderi forming it, with the description of their main features such as: roads and hydrographic network, wooded and cultivated areas with their specific usage (individual or associated) and layout (disposition of rows of arboreal cultivations), residential buildings of the landowner, of the administrator and of the sharecroppers, service structures for agricultural production, transformation and conservation purposes (huts, stables, mills) and places of worship (churches, chapels and tabernacles).

The huge consideration given during the years of the Medici’s Grand Duchy to the role of agriculture in the Tuscan economy and to the need of promoting and sustaining the renovation of the productive and commercial structures, in spite of the decline of urban manufacturing activities, is testified by the edict made by Cosimo III of Medici the 24th of September 1716, which establishes the protection of the most important agricultural product of Chianti – wine –delimiting its territory of production.

A further and stronger drive for this renewal is testified by the actions undertaken under the Lorraine dynasty (from 1737 to 1860). They replaced the Medici Family and promoted reforms for the administrative and territorial organization. The establishment of the Georgofili Academy in 1753 expresses the specific commitment that develops in this phase to promote a substantial update to the theories and principles of agronomy that had hitherto dominated.

In fact, we owe to the Georgofili Academy the numerous and important contributions that developed in those years and that were a point of reference even after the unification of Italy in the 19th Century. These are the proposals for the extension of agricultural areas on steep slopes hilly territories, difficult to cultivate and subject to erosion. Specific forms of intervention are identified for the first time: terracing, hogback hills and herringbone terracing (a spina). These changes will identify from then on the Tuscany hilly landscape and in particular the Chianti area.

This impulse to agricultural colonization gave rise to a significant growth of the new areas of sharecropping land division (appoderamento) with the distribution of scattered settlements and the further strengthening of the farming system, already previously tried out. It also started a process of reformulation of rural building typologies that sees the introduction, besides the transformation and recovery intervention of the already existing structure, of brand- new interventions.

This reformulation affects both the typology of the Landowner’s house and that of the worker house, which are in fact recoded under the stylistic-compositional, technical-constructive and functional profile of rationally designed models (referred as “Leopoldine house” from Leopold, Grand Duchy of Lorraine in the XVIII Century) which include a symmetrical building pattern, an arcade and a hipped roof. Particularly in this phase, the Landowner house of Chianti find a reconfiguration of their previous layout with the inclusion of new decorative elements, formal gardens and romantic parks in line with the emerging architectural and landscape trends of the time.

Defined by villas organized in farming centres by the large urban ownership who exercised control over the land, Chianti became from this time onwards an expression of that “Tuscany of the cities” which was perceived as “the most beautiful and touching countryside existing” (Fernand Braudel). Glorified by landscape scholars as a “work of art” built “by a refined people of farmers and city owners” (Henri Desplanques), Chianti has still largely maintained the same forms depicted by the ancient inventories (Cabrei).

The protection and relaunch policy of agriculture started before the unification of Italy has in fact continued after the national unification, with the emergency of several initiatives for protection, enhancement and promotion of the territory and its productions. Among these initiatives, of major importance is the establishment in 1924 of the Consorzio Chianti (Chianti Consortium) which in 1932 will become the Consorzio Chianti Classico for the protection of wine production of the territory recognized as Chianti in the 1716 Edict. The Consortium will use the Black Rooster, reproduced in the painting by Vasari in 1565, as a symbol of its territorial identity.

This process continues until the fifties of the last century, when the sharecropping production system enters permanently in crisis, bringing a progressive depopulation of the countryside especially in the most isolated territories with less productive potential. The mechanization of the production processes occurred during the sixties and seventies of the last Century with the creation of specialized facilities (vineyards and olive groves) did not modify the settlement structure and the basic agroforestry mosaic that is still recognizable in its main constituent features.

During the decades following the economical organization of the agricultural activity that has always characterized the Chianti area, the focus has been constantly increasing in the protection and preservation of the qualities of the historical landscape. This attention is shared both by public authorities, which traditionally implement policies to protect the Tuscan territory, and by private economic actors and population as a whole.

To testify this attention is the establishment in the nineties, under the initiative of the Consortium, of the Fondazione per la tutela del territorio del Chianti Classico (Foundation for the protection of the Chianti Classico territory) expressly aimed to “the conservation of the landscape and the environment” and to “the protection and enhancement of cultural and environmental heritage, of typical productive activities and of flora and fauna”.

These objectives are also the basis of the Rural District established in 2017 of which, other than the Foundation, are promoters the main trade associations, all public administrations and city institutions. This District, starting from the recognition of the unity of the area interested, intends to ensure its conservation over time, promoting its economic and its social, cultural and touristic integration, through a program of shared actions.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Chianti Classico landscape represents an exceptional testimony of the territorial re-launch policy carried out since the XVI Century by the two dominant cities of Florence and Siena.

Such policy is part of a process of renovatio that, beginning in Tuscany since the XV Century under the auspices of the new principles of the Renaissance, has fostered research and trials in all the fields of human activity, from art to technology and science, passing from economy to production and society. In particular, in those years, new models of urban and territorial planning are being tested, strongly linked to a new concept of the world and to the social, economic and settlement organization, both urban and rural.

For the first time several treaties are published, indicating the criteria to apply for new constructions, their relationship with the territory and the distinction of the typologies linked to the functions. It is also highlighted for first time the importance to create qualified places for production activities as well under the aspects of architecture and landscape.

After a long phase of wars, the defeat of the Republic of Siena in 1559 and the transition of its territories under the Medici’s dominance, for the county starts a period of peace. Since the territory was no longer the border of two belligerent states, the interest of the investors from the two cities will grow further. Begins in this phase of peace the new economical and territorial organization of the agricultural properties based on the Villa- fattoria system, which will determine the progressive reconfiguration of the territory and which, especially on the XVIII and XIX Century, will consolidate the Chianti image, today still perfectly recognizable under its historical, structural and identity aspects.

In particular, the proposed site concentrates a widespread and complete physical testimony of the distinctive modality that the territory has taken with the centralized organization of the agricultural management and production, developing since the XVI Century during the Late Renaissance. In this cultural climate, the important experiences of management and organization acquired in Florence and Siena during the Middle Ages by bankers and merchants (who had business relations with the rest of Italy and with Europe) are transferred to the agricultural sector. The Villa-fattoria model, which initially centralizes the administrative aspects of the individual poderi that belonged to a single owner, evolved into a management and production coordination. The medieval sharecropping economy is transformed into a modern concept economy, increasingly oriented towards non-local markets and to a more qualified production.

The new aspect, settlement wise, is a new building complex, occasional residence of the landowners and continuous living place for the factor, place of administrative coordination of the individual poderi as well as place where the activities of transformation, conservation and marketing of the products are concentrated.

With the birth and spread of the Villa-fattoria, an overall regeneration of the medieval territorial structure is achieved. This configuration sees, in addition to the new constructions, the recovery of the existing settlement structures, both centralized and scattered and their transformation into Ville-fattoria according to the typological, stylistic and technological principles of the Renaissance. Along with these interventions on architectural artifacts, we also witness the introduction of new models of land occupation and land arrangement.

The Ville-fattoria define a unitary territorial system integrated with the polycentric settlement system composed by the major urban centres built in the Middle Ages. Located along the secondary ridges, they are connected to the main centres through a “comb” road system, and in turn to their sharecropper’s houses mainly positioned on the hillside and to their mills on the valley floor.

Such a fundamental structural features of the Chianti Classico region do not undergo significant changes with the agrarian revolution that characterized Western Europe on the XVIII Century. On the opposite, with the push to modernization of the Great Duchy attained by the Lorraine dynasty and the tendency of increasing prices of the agricultural products on international scale, we witness a strengthening of the Ville -fattoria productive system. Such new focus comes hand in hand with a new scientific contribution given by the Georgofili Academy on the upgrading of agronomy principles. The Academy was founded in 1753 by the Lorraine dynasty with the aim of favouring the expansion of the agricultural economic sector. The new investments allow the application of the Academy indications for the arrangement of the poderi and the expansion of the agricultural areas over hilly territories with heavily steep slopes, hardly arable. Are applied for the first time new specific forms of intervention: terracing, hogback hills and herringbone terracing.

We see also the diffusion of new typologies of farmhouses with single architectonic system. These colonial houses are more suitable for the living and working needs of the farmer family, where functional, constructive and stylistic aspects are addressed together.

Such push towards renewal developed during the Enlightenment continues also after the unification of Italy in the XIX Century, keeping the structural features of the land but enriching it with redevelopment measures on the residential homes of the landowner under the architectural models of the time and the introduction of romantic gardens with landscape model.

The uniqueness of the Chianti Classico region, which since the XVI Century has been the subject of innovative policies for the organization and management of agricultural activities finds validation today with specific policies aimed not only to the productive aspects but also at conservation and quality of the landscape, according to the most up-to-date technical, cultural and disciplinary guidelines. Besides this, it contributes the widespread awareness  of the identity values embedded by this territory and the significant regulatory and operational commitment for its particular protection, which involves institutions, economic parties and civic associations in a network of cooperative relations. These shared public and private policies and the persistence of economic vitality based on traditional crops have allowed the conservation of the exceptional degree of integrity of the inherited structure of this territory and actively guaranteed its protection.

Criterion (iii): The system of the Ville-fattoria in Chianti Classico represents an exceptional testimony of the policy of “renovatio” which characterizes the XV and XVI Century and regards all the aspects of society. Not only the reference to the aesthetic models of ancient art / architecture but a specific attention to a rationality of interventions, expressed in their organization, planning and management. Not only compositional symmetries but also search for harmony and proportions between the parts and thorough attention to locations, functions and planning.

Leon Battista Alberti, with his treaties written between 1433 and 1485, expresses the most illustrious example of this modern vision that integrates aesthetic concepts with localization and functional principles for new interventions. In this cultural context, a radical renewal of the methods of conducting agricultural activities is achieved, based on a rational organization of production through a business perspective derived from the commercial experiences developed in the urban areas of Florence and Siena.

Criterion (iv): The system of the Ville-fattoria in Chianti Classico represents an outstanding example of the recovery of an agricultural territory during the XVI Century, after the severe demographic and economic crisis caused by the plague that spread in Europe in the middle of the XVI Century. This push for renewal is still witnessed, based on the updated technical / scientific knowledge developed in particular by the Tuscan Academies (Georgofili Academy founded in Florence in 1753), in the age of the Enlightenment with the policies promoted by the new ruling family of the Lorraine and which continues after the unification of Italy in the nineteenth Century. The most recent chapter in the evolution of the landscape of the Chianti Classico Ville-fattoria develops after the crisis associated with the abolition of sharecropping in the second half of the twentieth Century. In this case, the rationalization of agricultural activities takes place in an advanced cultural context. The recurring theme of the economic sustainability of production of the XVI Century combines with the completely contemporary theme of the rigorous conservation of landscape values and historical testimonies of the territory through a regulatory and operational commitment for shared protection that involves institutions, economic parties and civic associations in a network of cooperative relations.

Criterion (v): The settlement system of the Ville-fattoria in Chianti Classico represents an outstanding example of scattered human settlement of a “comb” net type, of which are recognizable specifics construction typologies. Through these typologies, starting from the XVI Century, new farming productive units have been built, functional to the profound transformation of the previous methods of management of the agricultural activities. Pre-existing building as well as new constructions have been used to respond to such requirements throughout the centuries. They were different in their functions but complementary and coherent of the unified productive organization.

Within this evolutionary process, at the beginning of the XIX Century we see also works of restoration of the building complexes and their gardens, made according to the romantic taste of the time, reinforcing the overall characteristics of the Ville-fattoria rural landscape.

Icon of the Tuscan landscape (“the most touching of the world” according to Braudel), the Chianti Classico region is an example that led the development of the ideas and directions on the field of preservation and promotion of the landscape, in Italy and in many other countries.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The proposed site stands out for the authenticity and integrity of its elements and for its state of preservation.

A large bibliographical, archival and iconographical record attests the state of integrity and authenticity. A wide number of studies and research highlighted the outstanding universal value (OUV), represented by this cultural landscape both in the single naturalistic-environmental, historical, settlement and agroforestry elements and as a whole, contributing to the recognition as unified territory. In view of this structural unity, the proposal includes the whole territory of the rural Chianti District and, therefore, the entire most representative and the best-preserved evidence of the modification processes of its landscape undertaken since Renaissance. Thus, its borders enclose all the elements required to express its OUV and the dimensions are adequate to ensure preservation through time.

Several studies made in relation to its state of preservation have had into account the dynamics undertaken after World War II and the changes that have occurred on these lands, especially after the end of the sharecropping system in the fifties of last century, system that existed since the Middle Ages. These studies have helped to identify the main processes applied during the years in favour of the territorial recovery and relaunch and have highlighted the increasing consideration given to the preservation and promotion of its material and immaterial heritage.

They mentioned the high degree of persistence of all its main constituent elements (naturalistic-environmental, historical, settlement and agroforestry).

They have highlighted the substantial presence of the relation, from the fifties until today, of the woodlands and the agricultural areas. These studies have pointed out the implementation, starting from the seventies, of intensifying processes linked to automation, with specialization of production and simplification of the farm’s layout, especially in those hilly agricultural areas where the land is less steep and closer to urban centres and villages.

Next to the long lasting naturalistic-environmental and agroforestry elements, these studies have underlined the high grade of preservation of all the historical settlement system, of its urban centres, its connection network and Ville-fattoria, its fundamental residential and productive building typologies and its historical hydraulic-agrarian arrangements. The new urbanization processes (infrastructures, residential, productive and manufacturing settlements) started from the seventies, are overall limited and affected particularly the valley floor or the suburban areas.

Several national and regional measures regulate the proposed site. They aim at guaranteeing the protection of its assets and regulating the methods of intervention. These measures have been further strengthened in recent years, addressing not only the architectural, urban and rural heritage, but also the naturalistic-environmental and landscape heritage as well as the system of agricultural activities and traditional productions.

The proposed site contains eighteen areas protected by national legislation as Landscape heritage areas. These lands, identified with specific restriction decrees issued by the Ministry of Culture from 1965 to 2001, extend for 22,623.05 ha (30.44%) and are distributed within all municipalities including the major emergencies of the landscape heritage from a symbolic-perceptive point of view.

The site also includes restricted landscape assets for their archaeological relevance (archaeological sites) or environmental importance (rivers, parks and natural reserves, woodlands). In particular, woodlands cover 44,765.31 ha (60.17%).

In the territory of the proposed site are present in total 341 cultural assets (architectural and archaeological) protected by specifics restrictive measures, issued by the Ministry of Culture from 1909 to 2003. Among these assets are included all the buildings of major value (architectural and artistic) and all the buildings of main relevance for the history of settlement in the area. In particular, there are urban centres and their fortified and not fortified hamlets; the complexes and specialized isolated buildings: religious (abbeys, monasteries, charterhouses, churches, parish churches, chapels, oratories) and civilian (castles, towers and palaces); the complexes and edifices for the agricultural production specifically referring to the Ville-fattoria, to the sharecropper’s houses and the agricultural outbuildings. In total, the Ville-fattoria under architectural restriction are 61 (77% of the total number of Ville-fattoria registered until today). To this system adds up all the territorial and urban measures.

Amongst the factors that contribute to guaranteeing the integrity and authenticity of the territory there are preservation measures on municipal, provincial, regional and national scale. Concerning the measures of national scale, we have:

  • The protection of Landscape assets according to D.Lgs n.42 of 2004 Part Two and subsequent amendments, regarding a vast area of the proposed site and of which the implementation entrusted to the Tuscany Region with the binding opinion of the two competent offices of the State administration (The Superintendency of Archaeology, Arts and Landscape of the metropolitan region of Florence and the Provinces of Pistoia and Prato and the Superintendency of Archaeology, Arts and Landscape for the Provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Arezzo);
  • The protection of the Architectural heritage, as stated on D.Lgs n.42 of 2004 Part One and subsequent amendments, regarding all public or legally recognized assets and of which the most important according to their historical value are undertaking The implementation of this protection is entrusted to the Tuscany Region with the opinion of the two competent offices of the State administration (The Superintendency of Archaeology, Arts and Landscape of the metropolitan region of Florence and the Provinces of Pistoia and Prato and the Superintendency of Archaeology, Arts and Landscape for the Provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Arezzo);
  • The Environmental protection (hydro-geo-morphological and forestry) regulated by the Regio Decreto Legge n. 3267 of 30/12/1923 “Rearrangement and reform in the matter of woodlands and mountainous lands” and entrusted to the concerning Basin Authorities (District Basin Authority of the Northern Apennine) and to the Region;
  • The protection of the Monumental arboreal heritage regulated through the Census of the monumental trees of Italy approved with Ministerial Decree of the food and forest agricultural policy n. 757 of 2019.

On a regional scale, we have:

  • Regional law n.65 of 2014 “Measures for the management of the territory” and subsequent amendments, which regulates the interventions on the territory;
  • Regional law n.49 of 11th of April 1995 “Measures on parks, natural reserves and protected natural areas of local interest (ANPIL);
  • The Territorial Plan with validity of Regional Landscape Plan (PIT-PPR), approved on 2015;
  • The Hydro-geological settling Plan (PAI) and the Flood Risk Management Plan (PGRA);
  • The Regional Cave Plan (PRC), approved in 2020;
  • The Regional Agricultural Woodland Plan (PRAF), approved in 2012.

On a provincial scale, we have:

  • The Provincial Territory Coordination Plan (PTCP) of Florence and Siena, approved in 2011 and 2013.

On a municipal scale, we have:

  • Structural Plans and Urban planning Regulations of the single municipalities of: Barberino Tavarnelle (FI), Castellina in Chianti (SI), Castelnuovo Berardenga (SI), Gaiole in Chianti (SI), Greve in Chianti (FI), and Poggibonsi (SI). Radda in Chianti (SI), San Casciano in Val di Pesa (FI).

On the matter of instruments currently in force, stands out particularly for its importance the “Piano di Indirizzo Territoriale con valenza di Piano Paesaggistico Regionale” (Territorial Plan with validity of Regional Landscape Plan). Other than define the elements of the territory recognized as “unchangeable”, this plan identifies the values and weaknesses of the landscape and formulates the quality objectives to reach thorough municipal planning.

Of value, moreover, is the protection guaranteed by the Provincial Territory Coordination Plan, which, other than having surveyed and classified the assets of the extra-urban lands, has also realized specific protection measures for the surrounding contexts with the aim of assuring their physical, functional and visual integrity.

Comparison with other similar properties

The cultural landscapes, expression of the interaction between man and nature, are characterized by the wide diversity of the territorial features and by the huge richness of their cultures (living, disappeared or subject to progressive evolution) that characterises human history. Many aspects of this great diversity developed throughout the century are already present in the World Heritage List and on the proposal list already submitted. Despite the abundance of this record, various gaps can still be considered to outline important steps on the evolution of thought and on human agency to adapt his living context to the material and immaterial needs of the community.

On this view, the system of the Ville-fattoria in Chianti Classico represents a case of exceptional relevance of a territorial historical process not yet sufficiently illustrated on the World Heritage List. Regards, in fact, a hilly landscape characterized by a mosaic of specialized crops, with strong presence of woodlands and with a scattered settlement system of a “comb” net type. The main buildings of the Villa-fattoria become the directional and administrative centre for the coordination of the single poderi, as well as the centre of transformation of the products. Such territorialisation process is entirely represented by the town centres, by the main routes and service routes to the production and by the articulated building complexes of the Ville -fattoria.

In particular, the proposed site concentrates a widespread and complete physical testimony of the unitary organization methods of the agricultural management and production system that have developed since the XVI Century. In the stimulating cultural climate of the Renovatio started in Tuscany as far back as the XV Century, a radical renewal of the medieval methods of conducting agricultural activities is undertaken. Distinct types of crops are still cultivated but we witness an increase of those most suitable to be sold beyond the narrow local area. Productivity is improved, evolving the medieval system of sharecropping using the commercial experiences already developed in the medieval ages in urban contexts in Florence and Siena, thus enhancing a business perspective. The case of Chianti is therefore particularly representative of the discontinuities that mark the passage form the Middle Ages to Renaissance. Marks instead the continuity with the subsequent age of scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, which in Chianti coincides with the Leopoldine reforms (18th century) and with a strengthening of the farm system in conjunction with a liberalization of trade and an increase in demand.

Amongst the landscapes registered on the World Heritage List, the landscape of Val d’Orcia 1 is representative of the continuity between the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The site is an example of Proto-Renaissance with the reference to the landscape model of the “Buon Governo” (“Good Governance”), inferred from the fresco of Ambrogio Lorenzetti from Palazzo Pubblico in Siena named Allegoria ed effetti del Buon governo in campagna (1338 - 39), which takes inspiration from the patronage activities of the cities. The Val d’Orcia has been registered on the UNESCO List after consideration of its formal landscape qualities, celebrated in the School of Siena and iconic of the aesthetic model of Renaissance.

This landscape differentiates heavily from the one of Chianti Classico for the morphology of the territory and for cropping typology, as well of the style of the landscape and the historical phases represented. It is a valley landscape mainly cultivated at bare arable land which still today shows the features of the sharecropping landscape depicted in the Gli effetti del Buon Governo in campagna fresco, where the” hard” lands (not worked), bare arable lands and specialized cultivations are distributed according to the higher or minor distance from the inhabited center. In the case of the Ville-fattoria, and therefore in the historical phase beginning from the XVI century, the different types of cropping are distributed in the poderi based on their altitude, exposition, inclination and geological features of the soil.

In the case of the Ville e Giardini Medicei 2 site, another Tuscan cultural landscape in part historically contemporary to the Chianti Classico, the objective of the candidacy and the motivation that determine its outstanding value are hugely different compared to the site proposed.

In fact, the twelve villas and two ornamental gardens scattered throughout the Tuscan landscape (but not in the Chianti Classico area) compose a serial property that is evidence of the influence exercised by the Medici family on modern European culture through the patronage of the arts. Built between the XV and the XVII centuries, they represent an original system of rural buildings in harmony with nature, dedicated to leisure, arts and knowledge. The villas and gardens show innovation in form and function, representing a new type of princely residence different from both the farms owned by the wealthy Florentines of the period and from the castles, symbols of noble power. The Medici villas and their gardens embody an ideal of the princely residence and constitute the first example of connection between habitat, gardens and environment, a constant reference for princely residence in Italy and Europe.

Their gardens and their integration into the natural environment have contributed to the development of an aesthetic sensitivity for the landscape characteristics of Humanism and the Renaissance.

The topic of the elements of the landscape related to wine production (embankments, quintas, villages, chapels and streets) is present on the Alto Douro 3 site where wine production dates back over two thousand years ago. The site reflects the evolution of such human activity through time, and in particular highlights the cropping methods used on a steep terrain. The fluvial landscape is characterized by rows of embankments along the steep sides of the Alto Duoro Valley Mountains and its secondary branches. The original embankments were built with amplified dimensions, particularly after the crisis occurred in the XIX Century due to the phylloxera parasite. Some generic analogies with the Chianti region are encountered in the presence of the quintas, building complexes around which the agricultural activities are carried out. These are indeed examples of a “vernacular” building style, grown after subsequent additions over time and with specific features of the Iberian rural architecture. The proposal file mentions seventeen of them. On the small properties were instead located the casais which, having lost their original purposes, are often found in dismay.

The topic of the landscape elements (building elements and agricultural arrangements) obviously is recurrent on other cultural landscapes already registered to the World Heritage cultural List. Of relevance is, on the site listed in the European area in the years after the development of this matter during the Convention in 1972, the evolution of the elements over a very wide timespan, comprising in general different historical phases. They are thus landscapes where the element of uniqueness is found in the presence of the rural or architectural edifices built over the centuries and in the presence of a land which human agency adapted for productive needs.

The site of Saint Émilion 4, marked by an intensive production of grape and by architectural elements in harmony with nature, is recognized as an example of vine growing landscape, with a history going back to the Middle Ages.

The case of the fluvial landscape of Wachau 5 also depicts the historical evolution of human presence in a land enclosed by mountains, in this case along the Danube River. The landscape, characterized by steep embankments, remains mostly medieval. In the territory could be seen an evolution of the architectural elements and the urban centres, although the viticulture tradition dates to Roman times.

Yet more steep embankments can be found on the landscape of Lavaux 6 on the lake of Genève, where, through the course of almost a thousand years, the relation between man and environment allowed to optimize the local resources and produce a very much appreciate wine. This production represented an important slice of the local economy and the protection and patronage of the area have contributed to the development of the Lausanne region.

In the landscape of Sud Öland 7, of which history dates back to the Iron Age, various chronological layers are still preserved, showing evidence of the medieval use of the soil, exceedingly rare in Northern Europe. Of particular interest is the adjustment to the limits of geology and morphology of the land.

The site of the Langhe-Roero e Monferrato 8 is instead articulated over different components related to specific territorial viticulture. The site has been registered for the history of viticulture knowledge, the way of use of the soil and the artefacts linked to the production. These elements enclose an outstanding example of interaction between humans and nature.

On the landscape of the “Climat” of Bourgogne 9, the main aspect of interest is linked to the specific geological and climate conditions that characterizes each single plot of vineyard and consequently the influence that these elements have on the quality of the products, which are under specific regulations. Other defining elements are the villages and cities hosting the wine commercialization.

In the case of Champagne 10, the product history is associated to the three components of the site: the supply basin formed by hills cultivated on vineyards, the production sites and the selling centres. To those places is associated the image of a worldwide famous wine, symbol of France.

The Colline del Prosecco 11 are representative of the modality of use of soil and vineyards management adapted to the features of the hillside lands, such as the use of the ciglione and the bellusera vineyard system.

The English Lake District 12 is a mountainous area, in whose valleys an agro-pastoral system characterized by fields closed by walls has developed. Its exceptional value is determined by the outstanding beauty of the man- made territory that inspired, starting from the eighteenth century, artistic and literary movements and generated new concepts on the value of the landscape that had influence on a global level. In this context, the Lake District has also been an important catalyst in the development of landscape protection nationally and internationally. In the XVIII Century, the quality of the landscape was recognized and celebrated by the Picturesque Movement, having as a starting point the models of Italian and Northern European landscapes. These references developed in an original way in the Lake District until the end of the XIX Century, through a further use of the territory, with the inclusion around new villas, of extensive naturalistic gardens designed to enhance the beauty of the agro-pastoral landscape. In the rural landscape of the Chianti Classico, the Ville-fattoria are built in close functional connection with agricultural activity, even if attention is always paid to the aesthetic qualities of the overall context. The taste for the English garden that spread in Italy in the XIX Century does not cause transformations of the traditional agricultural system, being the new fashionable interventions of the time limited to some naturalistic areas, still close to the traditional formal Italian gardens tightly connected to the noble residencies.

The topic of adaptation to morphological and environmental conditions characterized many landscape sites registered starting from the ending years of the last century. Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Serra de Tramuntana in Spain, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, Southern land of Jerusalem in Palestine.


    1. Val d'Orcia. Date of registration on WHL 2004 Criteria:(iv) (vi)
    2. Medici’s villas and gardens of Tuscany. Italy. Date of registration on WHL 2013. Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
    3. Wine-growing region of the Alto Douro. Portugal. Date of registration on WHL 2001 Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
    4. Jurisdiction of Saint Émilion. France. Date of inscription on WHL 1999. Criteria: (iii)(iv)
    5. Cultural Landscape of Wachau. Austria. Date of inscription on WHL 2000 Criteria: (ii)(iv)
    6. Lavoux, terraces vineyards. Switzerland. Date of inscription on WHL 2007 Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
    7. Agricultural Landscapes of Southern Öland. Date of inscription on WHL 2000 Criteria: (iv)(v)
    8. Vineyard Landscapes of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero e Monferrato. Italy. Date of inscription on WHL 2014 Criteria: (iii)(v)
    9. I Climat, territories of Bourgogne. France Date of inscription on WHL 2015 Criteria: (iii)(v)
    10. Hills, houses and wine cellars of the Champagne. France. Date of inscription on WHL 2015 Criteria: (iii)(iv)(vi)
    11. Prosecco Hills of Conegliano e Valdobbiadene. Date of inscription on WHL 2019 Criteria: (v)
    12. The English Lake District. United Kingdom. Date of inscription on WHL 2017 Criteria: (ii)(v)(vi)



(1) Villa-fattoria

Agrarian property of large or medium size, jointly managed as a productive agricultural enterprise and administered by an Estate Director (fattore). It has an enterprise centre consisting, other than the the Landowner’s mansion, also of other buildings for the collection, processing and storage of agricultural products

(2) Fattore

Director of the agrarian enterprise, in charge of the management of the Villa-fattoria, its different poderi and the sharecropper’s families who resided there.

(3) Podere

Rural land with a purpose of cultivation, worked with a sharecropping agreement by the sharecropper and its family


(4) Cabreo

Inventory or register of goods belonging to clerical or aristocratic administrations, also including maps of properties and drawings depicting the recorded goods and their cultivations.