BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
When you hear the word “abandoned” do you picture a broken-down house on the side of a highway, long forgotten by a family that once inhabited it? Do you think about a decrepit building that is now just the shell of a building that once held a booming business? I bet you’re not picturing a vibrant, multicoloured castle.
The Castello di Sammezzano is a maze of 365 technicolor rooms, each boasting unique tiled walls, and each more decadent than the last. For the last two decades, the castle has been abandoned and has somehow sustained its beauty even with the inevitable effects of the natural elements, urban explorers, and time.
It’s located in the middle of the Tuscan Hills in northern Italy, in Leccio to be exact. Originally built in 1605 by Ximenes of Aragon, a Spanish nobleman, the castle was first a Moroccan-style villa. In the 19th century, when Ferdinand Panciatichi Ximenes inherited the property, the castle was transformed into the example of Moorish Revival architecture that it still resembles today.
When Ferdinand died at the end of the 19th century, the castle remained uninhabited until the WWII era. The property then acted as a luxury hotel, restaurant and bar until it was vacated and closed in 1990.
For nearly 20 years since then there have been different ideas about what to do with the castle. The most concrete was turning the castle into a tourist resort, complete with a luxury hotel, apartments, a spa, and a country club with sporting amenities. But when that elaborate plan fell through, the castle, once again, was left abandoned.
However, in 2013, a non-profit organization popped up with the dreams of increasing awareness of the increasingly decaying castle. Their project, Save Sammezzano, aims at restoring, protecting and re-opening the castle to the public. The organization holds no ownership over the castle, but is hoping to find an investor willing to fund the necessary amount to turn this piece of history into a private enterprise.
So although this beautiful piece of history still remains uninhabited, with the organization refusing to leave it abandoned, there is hope for its future.