Discover the castle of Sammezzano, an orientalist madness in the heart of Tuscany

Sammezzano Castle is a hidden gem in the hills surrounding Florence, in Leccio, Tuscany. It is one of the most beautiful castles and buildings in Italy. Its originality lies in the thousand colors that decorate it and this fascinating Arab-Moscow architectural style with its refinement. It is not the castle of Sleeping Beauty, on the other hand, its history is also striking. This fortress comes straight out of the wild dreams of Marquis Ferdinand Pianciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona (1813-1897). The marquis was a colorful figure since he had a colorful personality: architect, engineer, botanist, entrepreneur, politician, scientist and many other things. Disappointed by the political climate of his time, he took refuge in his crazy dream of making Sammezzano a magnificent palace in the oriental style. Here is everything you need to know about one of the most beautiful treasures of the region…

An owner fond of orientalism

Although the historic monument dates back to Roman times, it was only between 1843 and 1889 that it took on the appearance we know today. A large number of intellectuals were then fascinated by the exoticism of a fantasy Orient. The owner Ferdinand d’Aragona, member of one of the richest families in the region, then began a gigantic project by modifying the original appearance of the castle and its garden. This palace thus becomes in a few years the most important construction of Arabo-Mauresque style in Italy. In 1878, the Prince of Italy Umberto 1st was welcomed there. 

On the death of the marquis, the fate of the castle was troubled. The work remained unfinished. First transformed into a hotel, the building was abandoned in 1990. Nine years later, it was bought by a British company which did not really improve its preservation.Comitato FPXA-Sammezzano ” which seeks to appeal to investors to restore the building and its suites, but also to attract visitors. The committee organizes guided tours rarely, on request. Visits to the Sammezzano castle are therefore exceptional. Unfortunately, the building is therefore not open to the public on a regular basis. The lucky ones who can visit it will be able to admire this romantic castle, its remarkable garden, but also its panoramic view.

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sammezzano castle
Credits: Flickr
sammezzano castle
Credits: Wikipedia

The castle of a thousand colors

The castle would have 365 rooms, each corresponding to a day of the year. The interior decoration of the castle is at the height of its architectural originality. It mixes Latin inscriptions with the refinement of Moorish decoration, reflecting the eclectic tastes of the marquis. From a visual point of view, it is an avalanche of colors and symmetrical shapes giving a certain vitality to each room of the palace. In each of the spacious rooms, you will discover authentic furniture, including impressive chandeliers and thousands of mosaic tiles. In short, enough to impress collectors of decorative arts! The park, one of the largest in Italy, also suffered from the Orientalist influence since a large number of exotic trees were planted there. There is an artificial cave, ponds, fountains. All of this work was carried out by indigenous labor using local materials. During his life, the marquis had indeed traveled only in his books, it is there that he drew his dreams of the East.

Sammezzano castle
Credits: Wikipedia

Despite the limited access to this castle, we advise you to prepare your visit in order to admire it from the outside. Have a good trip !

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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