Castello di Ama: the castle of Italian love, where art and wine meet
Siena, Italy – It takes time to get to Castello di Ama. The medieval Italian village is situated on a summit surrounded by vineyards and dark firm cypresses. It is located at the end of a long road, narrow and illuminated by the sun.
The town, dating from the eighteenth century, seems as if it had been here for an eternity.
Today, almost all of the village is owned by Lorenza Sebasti and Marco Pallanti, the couple behind Castello di Ama, one of the most famous wineries in Tuscany.
Castello di Ama – or “castle of love” as the name translates quite poetically – is well known … its wine was ranked sixth in Wine Spectator last year. But Castello di Ama has more than just an outstanding wine.
When you arrive here, you notice that the exceptional is evidenced, like disparate rocks – made of old slabs – of intense colors on the pavement that appear to the eye and a mirrored wall with windows that offer a view of the extensive vineyards.
For the past 15 years, Lorenza and Marco have been inviting some of the world’s most influential artists to the winery, to create legendary projects. These facilities were built right there … scattered all over the land and in various constructions in the village.
There is an ethereal piece of Anish Kapoor located in a chapel that is centuries old … a bowl cut inside the floor that shines with a deep red against the gloom.
There is also a Louise Bourgeois sculpture of a woman kneeling with the head of an artichoke. The strange work is also a source, and to see it, you have to go down a rickety stairs to enter one of the oldest cellars.
More recently, Hiroshi Sugimoto was commissioned by two huge marble structures. One is suspended from the ceiling while her twin rises from the floor. Each is crowned with stainless steel tips that almost touch each other, separated by millimeters.
“We started (commissioning works of art) in the 1990s,” says Lorenza Sebasti de Castello di Ama. “This was intended to give more life to these buildings and maintain a good energy to age our wines, with the help of these artists.” (Initially) they were only temporary exhibitions.
In 1999, with the help of Galleria Continua, Lorenza and Marco contacted Michelangelo Pistoletto, an Italian painter, to commission his first permanent installation, specific to the place.
The following year, Pistoletto created ‘Tree of Life’, a divided tree trunk with mirrors inserted into his insides, which creates refracted images.
“Michelangelo chose (to install his work in) the cellar. He built something that for us is like a totem.” When you enter, when you arrive, you see that this is like a god to protect our work, “says Marco.
It was the beginning of continuous collaborations with some of the most important artists in the world.
Art for the next generation
“We ask artists to make an interpretation of our world,” says Marco. “Every artist (with whom we have worked) has been invited to Castello di Ama to be inspired by history, our passion and wine.”
‘New Wall Painting’ by Daniel Buren
Nowadays, the property has been transformed with works of greater magnitude like the ‘I Do not Want To See More To My Neighbors’ of Carlos Garaicoa. The miniature reproductions of Garaicoa, which represent some of the most famous walls in history, such as the Berlin Wall, extend through the property.
“For us it is very important the relationship we have over time, both for wine and for art,” says Lorenza.
“We give the artist time to really digest this place and have a truly authentic voice to offer to this place.”
One of the most emotional connections the couple formed was with Chinese artist Chen Zhen. His work, ‘La lumiere interieur du corps humain’ was created while he was fighting cancer. It was installed five years after his death in 2000, by his wife and assistant, Xu Min.
The work of Chen Zhen, which translates into Spanish as the ‘inner light of the human body’, consists of crystal structures that were made to resemble different organs.
Outsiders can view these artistic collaborations simply as an intelligent investment in art. But Lorenza and Marco insist that nothing could be further from the truth.
Art, like vines, says Lorenza, is for the next generation.
“These vines will not mature in the next 30 or 40 years and maybe we will never make those wines for ourselves. In the same way, the art project is, to a large extent, our contribution to maintaining this place for the next generation.”
“Essentially, the same artists understand that doing something here in Castello di Ama will make this an important place as a destination for art lovers, but at the same time makes them feel proud to have a work here. Of art is for sale, and this gives much freedom to both artists and us. ”
Castello di Ama is located in La Toscana, Italy. More information here.