Photography by Jaime Travezan
PRINCE CHARLES WAS A GREAT role model for me,” says Styler, explaining her organic awakening. Many years ago, along with Paul and Linda McCartney, she visited the Prince’s organic and sustainable gardens at Highgrove, His Royal Highness’s home in Gloucestershire, and she found herself impressed with how robust everything looked there. “He was really able to get those plants thriving,” Styler recalls. “I thought it was incredible, because at that time, when we first bought Lake House, quite frankly, it was really, really tough to not have your lettuces filled with slug holes — and I don’t mean slugs like bullets, I mean those little black critters. It wasn’t happening as successfully as I had imagined.” Her own father, who was still alive when Styler and Sting started farming at Lake House, also played a role in her organic coming of age. He brought to the project expertise in a sort of natural, pesticide-free farming he called “extensive.” “As opposed to ‘intensive,’” she explains. “They never used sprays, and they knew how to grow with ‘companions’ — using a plant or a flower to distract the so-called pests. He gave us lots of tips and was very much around in the first years. But it was a real learning curve for me to get to grips with agriculture, and that was a labor of love, really.”

Styler says that the agrarian life has taught her much — about the land, about her family, about herself. “I learned the art of patience: It’s not going to be overnight. You have to wait and work with nature, not in defiance of it, not pushing it, because it has its own rhythm. I learned to drop into being human: You’re a part of nature; you’re a part of the environment; you’re a part of the planet. I learned to never lose that connection.”

AS FOR WHAT'S NEXT FOR STYLER and Il Palagio, there’s that doubling of its wine production next year, with plans for an all-merlot bottling and the wider release of the white and rosé. She and Sting have also recently opened the villa for private events and holiday rentals, including culinary classes with the estate’s Italian chef, the always-smiling Alba Papi, and with Joseph Sponzo, the couple’s longtime personal chef, with whom Styler wrote 1999’s The Lake House Cookbook. The duo may, in fact, soon collaborate on a follow-up volume devoted to Il Palagio’s version of Tuscan cuisine, focusing on simple recipes made with a minimum of high-quality, easy-to-source ingredients. For Styler, it would represent yet another way to share the joy she takes in the property — the peace she finds there, even amid the go-go-go of her eminently hectic life.

“This land is so energizing that you just sort of drop down into this very good heart space, where you feel you’re having a good time,” Styler says of being at Il Palagio. “I think Italians just epitomize how to be spontaneously happy and how to celebrate the ritualization of eating. It’s something that reminds us that we’re human beings and that the company of others is high company indeed. We’re meant to be with each other. It reminds us of who we are.

“Italians have made a virtue of it. But we all gravitate toward it because we recognize ourselves in it. We say, ‘Yes, this is us. This is how it should be.’  What isn’t good about that life? It’s just the best.”

And who would argue with Trudie Styler about what constitutes the good life?