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History of Villa Cenami Spada

Halfway between Lucca and the Tyrrhenian coast, set high in the idyllic landscape of the hills north west of the city, is the tiny agricultural hamlet of Orbicciano, an ancient settlement developed around Cenami Spada family estate, owners of the land and the farmhouses.

The patrician country house dates back to the 1700’s and was once the hunting lodge of the aristocratic Spada family.

The first written documentation about the villa attest that Vincenzo Favilla bought the property and land from the Leonardi family for 8000 scudi on 12 December 1763. The name of the estate comes up once more a few years later in the Terrilogio (mapping) drawn in 1773, upon request of Iacopo Favilla.

From the Favilla family, by subsequent inheritance, the property passed to the Bartolomei Sandonnini family, whose coat of arms and motto “Pugna pro patria” are still visible on the facade of the villa. From the Bartolomei family, the property was eventually handed over to Francesca Spada, who married Adolfo Cenami (1859).

Guests are welcomed in the library by the effigy of the prelate Cardinal Orazio Filippo Spada, illustrious character of the family, (1659-1724) painted by Antonio Franchi.

The property remains substantially unchanged up until 1867. The farm and the villa were used for agricultural purposes for almost a century. The Cenami Spada family, in fact, resided in the palace of Piazza San Pietro Somaldi in Lucca, spending summer season in the Villa Spada of San Colombano.

During 1960s Orazio Cenami Spada inherited the farm of Orbicciano and begun the renovation works of the villa and the 11 farmhouses dotted across a property of about 80 hectares, some of which still produce an excellent extra virgin olive oil every year. In this same period, sharecropping came to an end, thus farmhouses were converted from agricultural purposes to countryside villas.

Isabella, Orazio’s eldest daughter, still conducts part of the restoration work to this day: with love and passion, she welcomes families, artists and intellectuals, who come to Orbicciano from all over the world.

Isabella’ sons are also involved in the management of the estate: Marco, an established chef, is available upon request for special menus, while Luca, who lives in New York, promotes the business in the USA.