Just outside Florence, inside a splendid farm, the Barthel family, interior designers and antique dealers, has created what is, to all intents and purposes, one of the most elegant tree houses in the world.
It was the beginning of the 80s and the Barthel family decided to move to a property 20 minutes from the center of Florence, on the hill opposite the Certosa dell’Ema called Poggio Secco; an estate made up of a farmhouse and various stone structures surrounded by expanses of olive trees with a large terracotta courtyard designed as a small village square.
In the meanwhile, Riccardo Barthel, pushed by his love for ceramics, had created an interior decoration business based on the highest tradition of Florentine craftsmanship. Step by step, thanks to this passion, he begins with his wife Daniela and their children Elena and Francesco to restore the small “village” that has come to life over the years as a community made up of relatives, friends and guests from all over the world.
Casa Barthel is the very essence of love for the Tuscan countryside, its oil, lifestyle and good food.(Daniela & Elena)
At the beginning of the new Millenium, Riccardo and Daniela decide to present their children Elena and Francesco with a tree house, every child’s dream, so, starting from a solid Scots pine, they begin to build the small tree house. Thanks to the family’s passion for antique objects to give new life to, each room is decorated with reused works from the many research trips made around Europe. So the iron staircase coming from the Marchè aux puces in Paris was completed by adding a railing of hydraulic pipes, the floor is made with the boards of a disused port scaffolding, the base of the bed are boxes that come from a Swiss pharmacy and the outdoor lamps are flower pots cut in a half.
Open to the public in 2013, located 3 meters above the ground among Scots pines and evergreen olive trees, the little house is, incredibly in such a small space, equipped with a double bedroom, a small kitchen, a bathroom with shower (panoramic, beautiful early morning with a view of the surrounding hills) and a terrace where you can have breakfast.
In the center of the bedroom, there is a gigantic blackboard with chalks always available to “deliver” one’s love dedications to eternity.
Open all year round, with only one break in November, in the winter months the small pellet stove makes the house truly “cuddling”, while in the summer months the air conditioning ensures a perfect temperature.
In the warm season, guests can sunbathe in the garden on the large beds or on the deck chairs by the swimming pool, open from mid-June to mid-September, whilst, all year round, they can take advantage of the synthetic grass tennis court or, in the farmyard with porch, use the BBQ and the wood oven.
Today Daniela and Elena manage “Casabarthel”, where an excellent olive oil is also produced, which, in addition to the Tree House, is made up of small and medium houses available for short-term rentals: Casa della Ceramica, Casa del Fattore, Casa del Caffè, Casa del Cinema and Casa del Pittore e Casa del Tipografo.
Inside the small village, there is also the typographic printing laboratory of Elena, architect and artist, where you can book composition workshops with movable type and learn how to print posters just like an artisan typographer.
Riccardo’s passion has been handed down to his son Francesco, who runs the family’s company alongside his father. They have been able to combine Florentine craftsmanship and love for reuse, giving life to what is now called the famous “Barthel”s style”. If you too have fallen in love with it, you can visit the beautiful Riccardo Barthel shop & showroom located in Via dei Serragli 234/r in the Santo Spirito district in Florence (www.riccardobarthel.it).
From 300 to 500 euro per night (2 people), breakfast included