Take a look inside the magnificent mansion where Pinocchio was allegedly written. Wish upon a star and this could be yours.
One of Italy’s most important villas is on the market. It is renowned for its architectural heritage, and it is where the Adventures of Pinocchio were apparently penned.
Halfway between Florence and Pisa, the 40-bedroom property stands proudly on a hillside. The Villa dei Satiri, also known as the “house with a hundred windows”, was designed in the 1650s. It has elaborate frescoes, ornate statues, and original features throughout. But the most remarkable feature is surely its Pinocchio connection.
Carlo Lorenzini (better known as Carlo Collodi), the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, spent most of his childhood in the villa. For Collodi, the hub of creativity was allegedly the kitchen. Legend suggest that this is where he penned the world’s most famous children’s novel. It was later translated into 240 languages. In the 20th century, and after a slow reception at the box office, it eventually received public acclaim, being heralded as one of Disney’s greatest animated films.
But now the birth place of Pinocchio is for sale. It is a tranquil setting, an oasis of calm away from the pressure of daily life. Just enter the gardens on a warm evening, and the sights and sounds of Pinocchio are everywhere. An orchestra of crickets chirp as they rub their wings together, while fireflies hover in the evening sky.
It is no surprise that Collodi was so inspired by this enchanting location. The gardens must be some of the finest examples of Renaissance/Baroque styles in Europe. They contain grottoes, theatres carved out of box hedges, fountains, statues representing mythological creatures, a butterfly house and a maze. Monty Don and Alan Titchmarch could get lost here for hours.
These gardens are open to the public at a cost of 10 euros (£7) per person and attract around 50,000 visitors per year. A small price to pay for a glimpse of history. And a nice little earner for a future owner.
The gardens are unique, but the house is, too. Some of the most impressive frescoes (painted by Angelo Michele Colonna) adorn the walls in the entrance hall and on the first floor (“Piano nobile”). They must have taken months to complete, considering Michelangelo spent four years on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Throughout the villa, history oozes from its very fabric. Walk through the wide corridors and you are whisked back to a time when the villa was graced by some of the most well-known names from the past. Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Anna de Medici, Napoleon Bonaparte and Mussolini all visited.
Now the property awaits a new owner to safeguard its future. But a custodian with a small fortune is essential as the villa is on the market for 19m euros (£13.4m). At the top end of the market, luxury properties don’t just leap off the shelves, which explains why this beautiful villa has been on sale for about two years.
But Luca Giovannelli (chief executive officer) from Casaitalia International, who is selling the property, says this is not unusual. “The average time to sell a country house in Italy is between one and two years, so yes, it is quite normal,” he explains. “We also have to consider that it is a really unique property, it needs some restoration work/finishing inside and it includes many outbuildings, so it needs to find the right person who has a project in mind.”
And is now the right time to snap up a new home? “It is a good time to buy in Italy, because it is a buyer’s market. And it is possible to find unique properties, pieces of history, for sale at interesting prices,” he adds. “We have seen an increase in demand from northern Europe, UK and USA, because of the advantageous exchange rate with the euro.”
Clearly, the villa is ready for a new chapter, whether a buyer is found from the UK, USA or closer to home. No one on the scale of Collodi will probably buy it, yet maybe there is a wealthy family who will fit the bill. They just need a son or daughter with a vivid imagination, who is bursting with creativity to write the sequel to Le avventure di Pinocchio. Jiminy Cricket will need dusting off, the wooden marionette should cut back on his porky pies, but surely there is no better place to breathe new life into the world’s most loved fairy tale.
* For more information on the Villa dei Satiri, contact Casaitalia International (oo +39 0743 220122; www.casait.it).