The Castle of Sammezzano is surrounded by a large park and is located near Leccio, in the town of Reggello, within the province of Florence.
History and Description
The main building is an eclectic Moorish-style construction, the effect of the nineteenth-century renovation of a large farm built in 1605 by the Ximenes D’Aragon family. The history of the place is however older and is traced back to Roman times. Historian Robert Davidsohn, in his History of Florence, states that in 780 Carlo Magno might have gone back from Rome, where he had baptized his son from the Pope.
The estate of which the castle belonged belonged to several important families during the centuries: the Altovites, then to the will of Cosimo, to Giovanni Jacopo de ‘Medici, who finally sold it to Sebastiano Ximenes. These belonged to the Ximenes d’Aragona family until the last heir, Ferdinand, who died in 1816.
In a cabreo drawn by engineer Giuseppe Faldi in 1818, the castle appears as a structure of considerable volume, with bastion and entrance stairs, in the opposite direction to that of the existing access stairs and of which there is no longer any trace. Then, after a long process of Ferdinando Ximenes’s will, the goods, name, coat of arms and titles of the Ximenes d’Aragona family, as well as the extensive estate of Sammezzano, passed to the eldest son of Vittoria, Ferdinand’s sister; Niccolò Panciatichi’s wife.
The 19th Century Redesign
Later he passed on to Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona, who redesigned it between 1853 and 1889. In about forty years the Marquis designed, financed and made the park and the castle of Sammezzano, the most important example of orientalist architecture in Italy. All the bricks, stucco tiles and tiles were made “locally” with properly trained local work hand. On the wave of cultural current called “Orientalism,” which spread all over Europe since the beginning of the 19th century and saw one of the main centers in Florence, Ferdinando began to change the existing structure and make new rooms: the Entrance Hall 1853, in 1862 the Corridor of the Stalactites, the Hall of Dance in 1867 to the central tower which carved the date of 1889.
In 1878 he also hosted the King of Italy Umberto I.
In the post war period
In the post-war era it was used as a luxury hotel. Despite the auction of 1999 and some urgent restoration work, it is in a state of neglect. In October 2015, the castle was again auctioned due to the failure of the Italian-English company that bought it in 1999; This, with a base of 20 million euros, has gone twice deserted.
In 2016, the castle became the first classic in the census promoted by the Italian Environment Fund, The Places of the Heart, with over 50,000 votes. In May 2017, it was auctioned again to be purchased by a Dubai- based company for 14.4 million euros; The following month, the sale is canceled by the Florence court.
Movies and videoclips
The castle was an interior setting for several films:
- 1972 “per Finalmente… le mille e una notte” directed by Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
- 1974 “Il Fiore delle mille e una notte” directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini (YouTube)
- 1985 “Sono un fenomeno paranormale” directed by Sergio Corbucci (YouTube)
- 1990 “Giorni felici a Clichy” directed by Clichy by Claude Chabrol
- 2015 “Il racconto dei racconti)” directed by Matteo Garrone and starred by Vincent Cassel and Salma Hayek
In addition, three music videos were filmed inside the castle:
- In 1986 for the duet between Fiordaliso and Pupo in Life is much more (YouTube)
- In 1990 for the duet between Mietta and Amedeo Minghi in Vattene amore (YouTube)
- In 2016, for Now or Never (things change) of Dolcenera.
The park, one of the largest in Tuscany, was built in the middle of the nineteenth century by Ferdinando Panciatichi, exploiting agricultural land around its property and a spider-man of holm oaks. He planted a great deal of exotic tree species, such as redwoods and other American resinos, while the architectural decor was made with elements of Moorish style such as a bridge, artificial cave (with statue of Venus), tanks, fountains and other creations Decorative in terracotta.
The castle and its historical park are a “unicum” of remarkable historical-architectural and environmental value. The park contributes considerably to an invaluable botanical heritage formed not only of the tree species introduced but also of indigenous ones. Only a small part of the nineteenth century plants has come to our day: already in the 1890s of the 134 different botanical species planted a few decades earlier, only 37 had survived. Only recently have some of the essences lost in a project of Restoration that valorizes the original botanical wealth: there are present specimens of araucaria, tuja, rate, cypress, pine, fir, palm, yucca, oak, maple, cedar of the Atlas, cedar of Lebanon, Lime and many plants of floricultural interest. In the park there is the largest group of giant sequoia in Italy, with 57 specimens, all over 35 meters; Among them the so-called “twin twin”, high above 50 meters and with a circumference of 8.4 meters, which is part of the narrow circle of 150 trees of “exceptional environmental or monumental value”.