Fauglia | The Villas and the Macchiaioli Movement

The link between the Fauglia area and its villas has roots that are lost in past centuries. Starting in the 18th century, in fact, there was a tendency on the part of noble families and the nascent bourgeoisie to purchase residential villas, farmhouses or simple farmhouses in the Pisan Hills (and in this area in particular).

In fact, its proximity to Pisa and Livorno made Fauglia a much sought-after area for convenient transport at the time compared to other, less easily accessible territories. In the late 19th and early 20th century, owning a villa here represented a status symbol, fuelled by the prestige of inhabiting places and landscapes immortalised and made famous by the paintings of the Macchiaioli and their school. In summer and even more so in autumn, the villas opened for the arrival of the owners, while in the nearby fields the work of the peasants fermented for the grape harvest followed by sowing and finally the olive harvest. Moments of meeting and socialising were the village festivals, including that of Fauglia at the beginning of August.

A brief overview of the villas, which are now private residences or accommodation and therefore cannot be visited, includes Villa Il Poggio (built on a medieval nucleus), Villa Corda (in the centre of town), Villa Pieri, Villa Giannini, Villa Biasci, Villa fattoria Gioli (a former hunting lodge and meeting place for Macchiaioli painters), Villa Marcacci, Villa Trovarsi, Villa il Poggione and Villa Gotti Porcinari (in Valtriano, on the ruins of the former monastery)

The Macchiaioli: in the middle of the 19th century, a group of painters living in Florence left the city to travel to villages in the countryside in order to put into practice the new theories they had elaborated in long artistic discussions at the Caffè Michelangelo: this was the Macchiaioli movement. This term refers to a group of Italian painters active in Tuscany who abandoned the historical and mythological subjects of classicism and romanticism to produce paintings with scenes of everyday life. The main exponents were Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Fattori and Silvestro Lega, contemptuously referred to as ‘macchiaioli‘ because of their way of painting in patches and with short brush strokes, without any preparatory drawing. The contours in the paintings are blurred in an attempt to reproduce reality as it appears at a quick glance. For them, political and civic engagement was almost a must; many participated in the Italian wars of independence or depicted the most important episodes in their works. The Macchiaioli are considered to be the pictorial expression of those cultural movements of the 19th century that endeavoured to represent the world in a realistic manner: naturalism and verism. Misunderstood by the official culture of their time, they were re-evaluated in the 20th century.

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