Concealed in Tuscan hills of Northern Italy is Castello di Sammezzano. Four hundred years ago, this magnificent Moorish castle was built around 1605. However, for more than 20 years, it’s been bare, devoid of attention and exposed to vandalism.
Intricately unique rooms are found in this castle, 365 of them, representing one for each day of the year. A Spanish noble, Ximenes of Aragon originally built this castle in the 17th century. Until the 19th century, this fortress remained to have its arabian identity. Then it was reconstructed to have the etherial architecture we see today.
The person behind this majestic castle is its inheritor, Marquis Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes, a major cultural, social and political figure in Florence when the city was the capital of Italy. Ferdinando lived and died at this property. 40 years of planning, financing and realizing this extraordinary castle was spent; for it was apprehended to become a crucial example of orientalist architecture in Italy. Still, it was ruined by modern-day investors.
When the Marquis died at the end of the 19th century, there was a time when the historical records appear to be quite erratic.
Amidst the war, the Germans came looting. They seized several important statues and fountains of Moorish style. They stole mainly from the castle’s surrounding park which had been considered the largest and most exotic in Tuscany. Among the stolen figures included the entire bridge and a grotto featuring a statue of Venus. When the war was over, the castle was transformed to be a luxury hotel, restaurant and bar.
Until 1999, it stood without a master of the house for 10 years. Then, a British company formally bought the Castello di Sammezzano at an auction. However, the castle would remain deserted; it’s vaulted rooms and archways vacant and unheeded.
It was around 2013, when a local non-profit committee aided to raise awareness of the increasingly deteriorating castello. They did not own Sammezzano but they organized and supported public openings for the property.
In 2014, the estate had just been quietly sold to Palmerston Hotel & Resorts, a global developer. Their intention was to develop the property into a “luxurious sporting resort, incorporating a boutique hotel, apartments, spa and country club with golf, tennis and various sporting amenities”. That vision failed to be carried out and the castle was auctioned again in February of 2016.