FRUITS OF THE VILLA: Il Palagio is a living, breathing agricultural enterprise, producing 12,000 bottles of olive oil and more than 4,000 cases of wine a year.
Photography by Jaime Travezan
The project began as a holiday hideaway — and it remains that, to some extent — but it has evolved into much more, too. Like the couple’s 60-acre, Jacobean-style Lake House in England’s Wiltshire, Il Palagio is also a living, breathing agricultural enterprise, one that produces such an abundant array of organic fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and honey, plus a range of organic Wine Spectator-approved wines, that Styler and Sting now sell much of the estate’s bounty through such elite gourmet purveyors as Eli’s in New York, as well as through Il Palagio’s own website.

For Styler, Il Palagio seems to combine two disparate impulses, a duality many of us face daily: the desire to always be doing along with a devotion to downtime. “I love working, and I love being creative,” Styler says early in our conversation. “But I also really love dropping down into the good life, eating well, feeling well, laughing a lot, being with my friends and loved ones, and celebrating the present.” All of which explains Il Palagio’s appeal for the super-busy Styler — and, by extension, the appeal of its powerfully delicious products for others.

IN SOME WAYS, STYLER GAVE BIRTH to Il Palagio by literally having a baby. She and Sting spent the last few months of her pregnancy with their third child, Coco, in Tuscany, and it was during this time that she fell in love with “the tranquility and celebration of the earth” she says she found there. The couple began hunting for a home nearby and eventually found Il Palagio, or, at least, the near-ruin of what it had been and would someday be again.

Originally built as a hunting lodge for Florentine aristocrats, and later inhabited by a line of local dukes and their progeny, the property’s yellow stucco, terracotta tile-roofed main house — which Styler describes as “big, stout, and friendly,” in contrast to the cavernous, grandly frescoed villas and show houses she and Sting had looked at in more touristed parts of Tuscany — had gone largely to wrack and ruin, as had its grounds and surrounding structures. But with the help of landscape architect Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd and interior designer Alain Mertens, with whom she’d worked on her Wiltshire home, Styler brought the place back, creating terraced gardens that extend from the house’s facade out to the woodlands just beyond and decorating the interiors casually and comfortably, with a mix of local antique pieces, overstuffed upholstered furniture, and Tuscan landscape paintings.

Through the French doors of one of the sitting rooms, an Italian Renaissance-style garden opens up on the highest and most formal of the terraces, filled with lavender and punctuated with eight soaring cypress trees, a gurgling stone fountain that once belonged to Sophia Loren sitting at its center. Back through the light-filled house, one reaches a courtyard surrounded by a loggia where fragrant vines of jasmine climb the columns and trellises, and ancient olive trees extend their gnarled limbs skyward. Just a bit farther, past the oversize carved-wood chess set, one encounters “Sting’s Café” — plush cushioned couches and tables shaded by an Indian wedding tent — and then a stone balustrade overlooking the pool and the hills beyond. “In the winter,” Styler tell me, “the air is so clear you can see as far as Arezzo,” nearly 30 miles away. (As for where a casual visitor might most likely find Styler on a typical day, that would be in the home’s former chapel, now a yoga studio and meditation room.)