Hidden away in Northern Italy's Tuscan Hills, the Castello di Sammezzano is breathtaking, even for the connoisseur of urbex photography of abandoned places. It's a Moorish castle built in 1605, but after existing for more than 400 years, the castle has fallen into neglect, empty and vulnerable to vandals.
Castello di Sammazzano's 365 rooms, one for every day of the year, were built in a Moroccan-style palatial villa. As you wind through the labyrinth of rooms, each one is unique and ornately decorated. The castle was built by Ximenes of Aragon, a 17th century Spanish noble. But it wasn't until the 19th century that it found its Arabian identity present throughout it today.
When it was inherited by Marquis Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes, it was largely forgotten. But Ximenes, an influential social and political figure in Florence, spent more than 40 years renovating the exotic property, converting it to one of the more important examples of orientalist architecture in Italy.
However, after the death of the heir Ximenes, the future for the property was uncertain. Germans looted it during WWII, taking many of the Moorish statues and fountains, including a bridge and grotto featuring a great statue of Venus. In the post-war years, the castle had a life as a luxury hotel with a restaurant and bar.
The hotel (which has apparently been lost to history) closed in 1990 and was purchased by British investors in 1999. But the castle was never refurbished and remains vacant.
Plans for the grounds included an 18-hole golf course, sports facility and clubhouse, but before construction began, the investment company's financial problems halted the development.
In 2013, a local non-profit committee was founded to save the castle. Although the committee, named Comitato FPXA after Fernando Panciatichi Ximenes of Aragon, have no ownership of it, they arrange public openings.
Palmerston Hotel and Resorts purchased the property to develop it into "a luxurious sporting resort, incorporating a boutique hotel, apartments, spa and country club with golf, tennis and various sporting amenities.”
Hopefully the development group will focus on preservation as well as utilization and restore the Arabian castle back to its former glory.
Credit: MessyNessy Chic