Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Abandoned Treasure

Not far from Florence, near Reggello, there is a very unique and beautiful palace: the Castello di Sammezzano that sits abandoned waiting to be saved from its progressive decay and ruin. Built in 1605 and subsequently renovated in the late 19th century, this extraordinary estate was inspired by the Moresque style. The castle’s architectural features and exquisitely decorated rooms on the noble floor are clearly reminiscent of the Taj Mahal and Granada’s Alhambra.

The grounds are among the largest in Tuscany, about 450 acres, and were originally filled with an incredible number of exotic plants, especially trees – representing  the vast majority of the world’s species. However, here too, the lack of care over the years has resulted in a drastic reduction of plant life and the deterioration of the ornamental decorations throughout the park. One positive note is that there still remain over 50 giant Sequoias that are over 35 meters, the tallest in Italy.

It seems hard to believe that despite its exquisite beauty and inestimable artistic value, the Castello di Sammezzano cannot be visited (except on a rare occasion about once a year, which serves primarily to underscore the deteriorating condition of the property).  Sadly, even though the estate was purchased at an auction in 1999 with the intention of creating a luxury resort, it remains to this day in a state of total abandonment. One can't help but worry that sometimes by having such a wealth of historic sites in Italy, some of its patrimony simply goes to waste - and that is an incredible shame.

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