Castle of Sammezzano, An Oriental Fairy tale in Tuscany

 

Birthplace of the Renaissance and one of the most beautiful and visited region of Italy, Tuscany boasts a cultural heritage unique in the world thanks to its noble past. Cities of art, monuments, villages, churches, basilicas, baths, woods and villas, all this and much more is present in Tuscany, where around every corner hides an ancient and legendary history. This is also the case of Castle of Sammezzano, an imposing fortified Moorish architectural style villa in the town of Reggello, in the province of Florence, surrounded by a large park of giant sequoias that hides from the view the majestic facade of the castle.

Belonged to the Florentine family of Gualtierotti until 1488, the castle became property of Bindo Altoviti and Giovanni de' Medici. In 1564 the Grand Duke Cosimo I established the banned of Sammezzano, a large territory where it was forbidden to fish or hunt without permission, and then he donate the estate to his son Ferdinand, the future Grand Duke of Tuscany. During the seventeenth century the castle was bought by the aristocratic family of the Ximenes d'Aragona, and in 1816 it was inherited by Panciatichi.  

His current aspect was designed in fact by the Marquis Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona who, between 1853 and 1889 realized an unusual and attractive house in the Moorish style, the Islamic art that widespread in the western Mediterranean between the end of the eleventh century and the late fifteenth. The result was a castle of the visionary architecture, unique and embellished with phantasmagorical and colorful forms that catapult the viewer into a scene from the Arabian Nights.

While the facade evokes the Indian Taj Mahal Museum, the interior decorations are inspired to the famous Alhambra in Granada. Inside the castle there are 365 rooms, one for every day of the year, each decorated in a unique and original way: among them we remember the Peacock room, the gallery between the Hall of Mirrors and the octagon of the Fumoir, the White room and the small chapel, which create an incredible maze of colors. However, after the death of the Marquis Ferdinando Sammezzano, the castle was subject to neglect and bad weather, looted during World War II and turned into a luxury hotel immediately after the end of the conflict.

It remained so until 1990, when a British company bought it to use it again, but due to the financial crisis of its new owners, the castle remained empty again. The manor is now in a state of semi-abandoned, but over the years were born several committees and associations that have as their aim the restoration and the enhancement of this marvel of the Made in Italy, a unique treasure lost among the rolling hills of Tuscany.