Iris Origo


Iris Origo (1902-1988) was an Anglo-Irish writer, philanthropist, and reformer who devoted her life to managing her estates in Tuscany, particularly the estate near Montepulciano "La Foce." Origo and her mother purchased and moved to Villa Medici in Fiesole in the early 1900s. Origo’s education was entrusted to Bernard Berenson, with whom she formed a friendship. Berenson introduced her to the study of Dante, Tennyson, Virgil and Pascoli.


In 1923, Origo married a noble fascist sympathizer, who was very hostile to Berenson's circle, and bought the estate "La Foce" in Val d'Orcia. The couple transformed the decaying villa into a landscaped paradise and a farm, a connecting center for farmhouses from various estates run by Origo.


During World War II, the estate offered care and education to children, and shelter to refugees, displaced persons, and fleeing Allies, becoming a true center of partisan resistance in 1944. Origo's writing career began with a biography on Giacomo Leopardi and continued with several essays and short stories on Giuseppe Mazzini, George Byron, Bernardino da Siena and Francesco di Marco Dantini. For her, writing was a "need to witness," as one of her most intense books is titled.