In the Tuscan hinterland there is an island. Deep hard gullies show you the way; soil ridges rise and fall, shaped by time and water. Light comes down in many fragments and the wind sweeps them here and there; the earth is dry but fertile, olive trees are full of fruits. Myrtle and rosemary bushes brush against your ankles among patches of broom flowers and animals buzzing. Every step takes you to a new environment and a new fragrance. Villa Lena is the main body of this living being; an ancient salmon-pink building breathes in light during the day and gives it back in the evening, when it becomes the only luminous element in San Michele’s night. The rooms’ ceilings display frescoes of the sky and vegetation: at sunset, the trees’ shadows become a living wallpaper inside the building, appearing and disappearing according to the rhythm of the sun and the seasons. The voices of artists staying in the Villa come down the central staircase. Chiara is keeping a cloth travel diary; she illustrates the places she lives in with botanical patterns and makes potions with powder and petal watercolours to tint her stories – and so I learn that mallow and lemon make a wonderful colour together. Eloise crammed a hand luggage with paper, then burst it in her studio; she now walks barefoot among the remains, adds or colours some elements, making it an ever-changing scene. When Lena and Jérome came into possession of the property, everything was wrecked. The reconstruction was slow and ambitious, a dialogue between nature and art in which the Tuscan roots embraced foreign inspirations. Villa Lena is a place that flows: when the sun sets, the harsh call of cicadas gives way to the crickets’ sweet one; the vegetables left to dry on the ground become seeds for next winter, and on the wood’s floor you look for truffles and shells, since there, once, there was the sea.