The Castello di Sammezzano is a show-stopper, a jaw-dropper. Hidden away in the Tuscan hills of Northern Italy, this electrifyingly beautiful Moorish castle was built a whopping 400+ years ago in 1605, but for more than two decades, it’s been sitting empty, neglected, vulnerable to vandalism and to the elements.
There are 365 rooms in the Castello di Sammazzano, one for every day of the year. The Moroccan-style palatial villa is a labyrinthe of exquisitely tiled rooms, each one intricately unique. Originally built by a Spanish noble, Ximenes of Aragon in the 17th century, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the castle would find its arabian identity and be transformed into the etherial palace it resembles today.
This is all owed to its inheritor, Marquis Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes, a largely forgotten but key cultural, social and political figure in Florence when the city was the capital of Italy. Ferdinando, who lived and died at the property, spent 40 years planning, financing and realizing this exotic castle that would become the most important example of orientalist architecture in Italy– only to be left to ruin at the hands of modern-day investors.
After the Marquis’ death at the end of the 19th century, there was a period of uncertainty for the property and historical records appear to be rather patchy. During the war, the Germans came looting, stealing mainly from the castle’s surrounding park that had once been considered the largest and most exotic in Tuscany. They took many important statues and fountains of Moorish style, as well as an entire bridge and a grotto featuring a statue of Venus. When the war ended, the castle became a luxury hotel, restaurant and bar.
Unfortunately there appears to be little photography of the villa during this period, I couldn’t even get the name of the hotel, which reportedly closed its doors in 1990.