Villa La Foce is inextricably linked to the history and identity of the Val d’Orcia and its legacy continues to reverberate in the region today. That’s because La Foce is the birthplace of Incontri in Terra di Siena, a chamber music festival created by Antonio Lysy, an internationally-acclaimed cellist, and his mother Benedetta Origo, to commemorate Antonio and Iris Origo – the owners of Villa La Foce who pioneered a revival of the surrounding landscape in the 20th century.
First launched during the summer of 1988, the Incontri Festival has played an important role in promoting music and the arts throughout the region for the past 31 years. What began as a small family affair has grown into a celebrated annual event that brings together culture in its many forms, all against the backdrop of Tuscany’s stirring landscape. Each summer, concerts and exhibitions are held in evocative venues throughout the Val d’Orcia, merging the beauty of music with that of the visual arts, literature, architecture, food and wine.
“If you have access to a slice of heaven that everyone dreams of experiencing, wouldn’t you want to share it?” asks Mr. Lysy, who spent his summers growing up at La Foce. “It was always an aspiration of mine to open the door to this magical and inspiring setting to others. The Incontri di Terra di Siena festival started as a means for friends and kindred spirits to unite and to contemplate the masterworks of chamber music in a peaceful retreat – and for us performers, to present our art to an appreciative audience at the highest possible standards.”
The Incontri Festival is nothing short of a fairytale: concertos by Mendelssohn and symphonies by Beethoven fill the air while the sun sets over the Tuscan countryside, enhancing the natural beauty of this picturesque region. These are “magical summer evenings of music in gardens, churches, villages and all the lovely places that welcome our concerts and moonlit dinners,” says Ms. Origo. “I can’t imagine a summer without Incontri now.”
Since 2017, famed pianist Alessio Bax has overseen the artistic direction of the festival and lends his vision to curating the line-up of talented musicians. “There are many excellent music festivals in the world, but I find that those which are truly successful and long lasting have their own clear identity. Incontri in Terra di Siena is one of these,” he explains. “While the connection that Incontri has with the surrounding land is undeniably strong, it is the unique history of the place and the eclectic mix of people supporting the festival that have made it what it is.”
This year, the Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival will be held from July 21–29 in seven venues in the Val d’Orcia, including La Foce, Monteverdi Tuscany and a Romanesque church in Pienza. Tickets are €30 (€10 for under 25) and should be reserved in advance, as spaces are limited. Tickets can be booked on the Incontri website.
In addition to concerts, the Incontri Festival also organizes cultural events as part of its “Oltre La Musica” program. Guests join guided tours of nearby towns and gardens, enjoy wine tastings and attend book presentations – participation is included in the price of the concert ticket of that evening. Dinners are also arranged in select restaurants, adding to a sense of camaraderie during the festival (reservations must be made in advance).
The musicians also enjoy the tranquility of Tuscan living from Chiarentana, a countryside estate that serves as their home-base during the week. Antonio and Iris Origo purchased Chiarentana in 1924 as one of the farms on the La Foce estate and today it is owned and operated by Donata Origo, their youngest daughter. With beautifully-appointed apartments and farm houses, an on-site restaurant and an award-winning olive oil production, it’s an idyllic setting to soak in the magic of the countryside.
“Besides the loving tribute to my grandparents and to the remarkable philanthropic work they achieved in the region, the Incontri’s inception was a breath of fresh air in the valley, presenting something new and stimulating through music and art,” says Mr. Lysy. “Incontri has not only achieved its place on the international stage but is indelibly rooted in the fertile soil of the Val d’Orcia. For those few fleeting, yet splendid summer nights, it becomes the spirit and soul of the valley.”
Program July 21–29, 2019 (see more details here)
Sunday July 21st 8pm: Teatro Pietro Mascagni, Chiusi
Monday July 22nd at 8pm: Chiesa del Triano, Montefollonico
Tuesday July 23 at 8:30pm: Piazzale del Granaio di Belvedere, Castelluccio
Friday July 26 at 8pm: Pieve di Corsignano, Pienza
Saturday July 27 at 8pm: Chiesa di Sant’Andrea, Castiglioncello del Trionoro
Sunday July 28 at 9pm: Cortile di Fattoria, La Foce
Monday July 29 at 8pm: Teatro degli Avvaloranti, Città della Pieve