All around Tuscany, almost at every road junction are large crosses, rusty and old. They have fallen into disuse today, but they used to mark the route for pilgrims in the Middle Ages, as they travelled to holy shrines throughout Italy. Pilgrims usually carried a loto of money on them, not only to pay for the cost of the trip, but more importantly, upon arrival at their destination, it was customary to make a financial offering, which went along with the prayers.
If the pilgrims took the easy route through the valley, they would almost certainly be robbed by gangs who specialized in the easy pickings from unsuspecting travelers.
That is why the more arduous route over the hills was much safer, and clearly enhanced the penitential mood of the pilgrims. Having walked for miles, it was obvious that the pilgrims needed safe staging posts to rest and nurse their aches and pains. Villa Igea used to be one of these staging posts, built in the sixteenth century, it was run by friars or monks. The houses on the property all stem from that period, the Villa and Chapel have retained their function, whereas, the other cottages were used for stabling and barns, and housing for farming peasants.
The farming component has always been very important, as it provided the monks with a means to survive. Part of the olive grove stems back to that time, although the size of the property has fluctuated through the ages. Records show that there used to be a little wine growing as well, but this has, only quite recently, been discontinued.