Ars Vivendi has been a public destination since late January / Early February 2022, and a place I’ve dropped into on a number of occasions and explored with the intention of writing about, but never quite getting to. However, after receiving several suggestions that I pay it a visit (thanks to all who forwarded them!), I felt it about time I did put down some notes on the setting.
The work of Camila (Camila Runo), it is a part of her 80 Days series – builds focusing on various locations from around the world. In this case – as the name might suggest, this full region takes as its inspiration the countryside of Italy.
Stroll through the wide, yellow rapeseed fields and discover the splendours of the Tuscan countryside and beaches. Places that look like they were drawn by hand: a vineyard, a cypress alley, an old town inviting you to sit down and breathe the atmosphere!
– Ars Vivendi About Land description
This is very much a setting that speaks for itself, from the landing point within the walled courtyard of the farmhouse landing zone, up through the hilltop town and over the water to the neighbouring little island that has been topped by a villa.
The landing point farm sits on a northern headland to the west of the region, ribbons of beach sitting at the bottom of the sloping cliffs on either side. Reached via stone steps to the west and a set of wooden stairs mounted on tall wooden piles to the east, these beaches offer sandy walks under the Sun, shaded places to sit and, in the case of the eastern beach, a little pier from which a Culprit motor boat can be taken to that neighbouring island and its villa crown.
Meanwhile, reached by a country track running up to it from the farmhouse, the hilltop town spans the southern extent of the region, west to east. With its walls and towers, it has about the the sense of once having been fortified, and with it, a sense of age – one that possibly runs back as far as the days of the Roman Empire. At the western, down slope end of the town stands a great bathhouse, its waters clean and clear, its walls painted in frescos. But whether a place of antiquity that has been preserved, or a reproduction designed to lure tourists, is up to you to decide.
Above this, to the east, the little town rises in steps and sloping streets up to where the hill is crowned by the local church, sitting as it does on its own small headland, somewhat aloof and separated from the main town by a set of gates and single track reaching out to it from the town’s piazza.
The town is rich with a sense of life. Shops are open, the piazza is set with bleachers and a stage ready for an outdoor event, whilst locals shop and barter and tourists take photographs. To one side of the piazza sits The Four Seasons boutique hotel as it rubs shoulders with the houses below and looks across a broad slope of road running up to the piazza to where the local cinema stands, a pizzeria nestled beside it.
This is a location that is worth taking the time to explore as it has much to see, and care has been taken to presenting it as a living, breathing place. Similarly, the countryside to the north and the beaches to either side of it offer an escape to the country that many in towns large and small appreciate, and so then blend well with the hilltop town whilst also presenting the full richness of the Tuscan countryside from the beauty of its often rugged coast to the rich colours of its inland towns and farms.
Taken as a whole or in its various parts, Ars Vivendi is a beautiful and well-executed design and a deserving destination not to be missed while it lasts.
- Ars Vivendi (Nausicaa, rated Moderate)