Ex Hacienda de Santa Águeda – Nativitas, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Nativitas, Mexico

Ex Hacienda de Santa Águeda

The grounds of this former dairy hacienda now contain an entire town inspired by Tuscany, Italy. 

This hacienda was mostly dedicated to dairy production. In 1900, it was Latin America’s largest pasteurizing facility. By 2014, however, after having fallen into dereliction for years, the former hacienda’s early 18th-century palatial habitations were renovated and an entirely new town called Val’Quirico was established.

After a developer from Mexico’s Grupo aBanza real estate company took a trip to the Tuscan town of San Quirico d’Orcia, the company bought the old hacienda grounds, enchanted by the idea of “a medieval European town where everybody knows each other.” The company renovated the original buildings located on the property, and ensured the new additions had a deceptively aged quality, using period-authentic materials like brick, wood, and adobe.

In a theme park-like move, the Val’Quirico development is divided in “lands:” Bosques, Centro, Fresno, Las Mercedes, and Laurel. All except Centro are almost entirely residential, with Centro instead focused on Tlaxcala-meets-Tuscany tourism appeal. In the bars and restaurants of this area, wine and micheladas are drunk side-by-side, and pasta dishes are more likely to be served with chile poblano salsa than puttanesca. Some of the smaller buildings on-site were “stage-dressed” to add Tuscan flavor as well, with documents written in broken Italian and dated to centuries past (despite being printed on modern paper) casually lying on tables to further enhance the idea of dolce-far-niente. While Val’Quirico has a sizable population both permanent and touristic, the actual town both it and the hacienda are located in is called Santeagueda, in honor of the history of the site.

Together, they represent a further step on the little-known cultural exchange between Mexico and Italy. Like most countries in the Americas, Mexico is the destination country of several thousands of Italian immigrants, the flow ebbing yet steady from the 19th century to today. The town of Chipilo in neighboring Puebla state, for example, has a larger number of speakers of the Italian dialect known as Venetto than Italy itself. However, while Chipilo might have the Italian history and authenticity, it’s Santa Águeda and its neighboring development of Val’Quirico, that have the looks.

Know Before You Go

Despite being in Tlaxcala state, the major city closest to Santeagueda is Puebla. It can be reached from this city by taking the main highway to Mexico City, after reaching the Outlet Puebla mall take the detour to Xoxtla for approximately one mile (1.6 kilometers) to reach Val'Quirico, the former hacienda entrance is a few more minutes down the same road. Crowds of locals enjoying the "villaggio" should be expected on holidays and weekends. Some of the former hacienda buildings can be seen from and in Val'Quirico but for closer access, permission should be requested in the Centro real estate offices. These buildings can be rented for events as well.

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