The Farm

A century of Italian tradition

It was in 1918, immediately following World War I, when entrepreneur Guido Sforni acquired an estate from the nobleman Conte Passerini of Firenze, renaming it "Azienda Agricola Sforni". At that time the estate comprised 13 farmhouses, each dwelling surrounded by plowable land, with the potential to create a sustainable habitat for one peasant family and their animals.

Guido Sforni rallied all his energies and resources to reclaim the land, rebuild the houses, and buy machinery, turning the estate into a real business. He was so committed in this enterprise that he traveled to the United States to learn all the latest agriculture methods and techniques. Thanks to Sforni, 150 unemployed people in Lorenzana gained a livelihood and a bright future. The area's cultivation was and still is traditionally Tuscan with crops such as wheat, corn, forage, grapes, and olives. The farm machinery Sforni used was the best of the time.

Over the next decade the estate grew and the farmers prospered. While Italy was under Fascist rule, fortunes for independent private farming grew dark and Sforni's operation was nationalized, becoming centrally managed; he lost its control. At the end of Fascism and World War II, much of Sforni's land and property were destroyed or unusable. In war-ravaged Tuscany it was a very tough time for agriculture, and many farmers and former owners did not return to work the land.

Guido Sforni started over with the same energy and will as the first years of his enterprise. Because of his acumen and drive, he became well-known and respected in the region. So much so that the Allies and interim authorities nominated him as governmental administrator of the Pisa province Agricultural Consortium which was rebuilding and supporting post-war farming.

Sforni passed away in 1950 but not before returning his business and partner farmers to profitability and stability, setting the estate on a steady course for continued growth and success. His family kept on his task, improving the business, buying and trading land until the present day. In the 1980s the estate joined many other farms in Italy in a large program of recovery and rehabilitation of abandoned peasant houses for tourism. Under the direction of heir Clara Lavagnetti Sforni, this work gave birth to a new kind of business for the estate, agri-tourism. Today, her daughter Chiara, a third-generation Sforni, mindful of past heritage and significance, continues to care for the estate's land, the houses, and the beautiful and unique landscape surrounding them.