Mesmerising Sammezzano Castle, Tuscany
I am drawn to vibrant colour, unique design and the more unusual tourist attractions. It is this combination that puts Sammezzano Castle, in Tuscany at the top of my list of dream destinations.
Where is Sammezzano?
The castle lies less than 40 kilometres from Florence in Regello, surrounded by an oak tree grove, at the top of a hill in 450 acres of parkland. Built in 1605 and later inherited by Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona who between 1853-1889 remodelled the property with a unique vision of Moorish Revival styled architecture. The castle has a lookout over the bell and clock at the front, where the views looking out over Tuscan landscape are said to be amazing. Sammezzano has 365 rooms, one for every day of the year, each unique in breathtaking patterns and incredible colours. Within the castle is the Peacock Room, with its ceiling and walls embellished with fans of rainbow colours and geometric patterns to the White Room with intricate mosaic tiled floor and wrought iron chandeliers and other jaw dropping interiors like Hall of Mirrors, Hall of Lilies, Stalactites, the lavish octagonal smoking room and Spanish, Arabian and Indian rooms. The castle is extravagant beyond comparison, with an explosion of colour and intricate designs in the little niches, tangled paths, hidden corridors and secret entrances. Reading a Latin inscription on an archway translates as “Nothing Further Beyond” one could think was the foundation of the creation of Alice in Wonderland which was written in 1865.
After being looted during the war Sammezzano was converted to a luxury hotel with apartments, spa, golf and country club but sadly was closed to the public in 1990 and abandoned. Within the parkland was an artificial cave with a statue of Venus, pools and fountains. The building has had little restoration since and suffered in the hands of time, the elements and graffiti. This sadly neglected building has no power or furniture and much of the stained glass is damaged or been stolen.
Hope for Sammezzano
This unique castle was sold in 2012 and was planned to be the showstopper it once was, with works originally scheduled to commence this year, 2014. Until then, the castle is open a few times a year by reservation only, arranged by the Sammezzano Committee. In return for the voluneers’ hard work, cleaning and caring for the castle, they request a donation and the reward is watching the joy and amazement on the faces of the 6000 who has so far toured the castle. The next tour is 18th October. Despite the castle being closed for more than 20 years and is without water and power the tour for 1200 people allotted through an open ballot is fully booked within 2 minutes.
It’s a shame that lack of interest and neglect have left such a majestic building in such a state. I would walk through this wonderland where reality ends and imagination begins with my mouth open, what a treat it would be to see some of its most magical spaces. So extraordinary, a Moorish style castle in the heart of Tuscan renaissance, a hidden treasure, hopefully to be restored to its former glory. For me, this would be a once in a lifetime place to visit that I’m sure words could not describe.
You can read more and see the photo gallery on the Committee’s Facebook page.
Have you heard of Sammezzano? Would you like to visit?
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~ All pictures in this article were sourced from Wikipedia