Two destinies are intertwined around Villa I Graffi: one refers to the sharecropping history of Tuscany and its historical buildings; the second and more recent, refers to the social actions of the Italian Protestant churches.
The farm that includes the I Graffi manor house and the sharecropping fields dates back to the fifteenth century and has belonged to various Tuscan families, from the Galigai to Bruni and then from Quaratesi to Pacchiani. Unfortunately, there are no historical sources to explain the origin of the name. According to one of the last owners, who lived in the house until the mid twentieth century, the name graffi alluded to drawings, paintings or frescoes that were present on one or more of the villa façades and were cancelled by the damages the villa suffered during the Second World War. The farm was equipped with an olive press, a theatre (later transformed into a chapel) and a large holding of land that produced grain, wine, vinegar, chestnuts, firewood and many other things.
Between the 1950s and 1960s, when the traditional sharecropping organization of farm work in the Tuscan hills collapsed and farm workers began to leave the land to work in factories, Villa I Graffi also lost its population.
In 1971, the complex was acquired by the Cares Institute (Centro assistenza ragazzi e studenti) [Centre for the assistance of juveniles and students], linked to the Protestant churches, and the history of the Villa became intertwined with an important example of social assistance.
The Cares Institute had been active in Florence since 1962, where it took in and helped to raise and educate young people whose families were in difficult circumstances.
During a ten-year period of intense activity, until 1975, over one hundred boys and girls from various areas of Italy were offered hospitality. The Institute changed headquarters more than once: from Villa Favard in Florence (1962-1965), to Villa Strozzi (1965-1970) and finally to Villa I Graffi (1971-1975), which immediately appeared to be the ideal place to continue its activities. However, history was changing and young people with difficult family situations were no longer sent to institutes but were adopted or taken in as foster children. Hence, the Institute ceased its activities in 1975. The long activity of the Cares Institute is documented in an archive of papers and many photographs conserved in the structure and available for consultation by scholars or other persons interested in the history of institutes for minors. At this time, we are collecting memories and comments from guests, volunteers and visitors who frequented the Institute and Villa I Graffi that will complement and enrich our archives.
In 1988, after a period of scarce activity, the governing bodies of the Association reached an agreement with the Waldensian Board for transfer of the property. Since then, Cares House became a place for encounters and hospitality, animated by Paul and Antoiniette Krieg, who worked passionately to develop the various activities of the House until 2015.