Ninth Century Tuscan Castle

This is a Tuscan castle, of 1800 covered square meters in addition to surrounding 13 hectares (32.11 acro ac) of land, with olive groves and woodland.  It is in large part finely restored. There is the permission for placing a pool and the owner is allowed to build new 400 square meters (4304 ft2) of housing into the property.
The historicity of this site is evidenced by the discovery of an Etruscan stele (stone), 2 meters high and donated to the National Archaeological Museum. The first documented owner was king Charles Magno and there is a bibliography of more than 200 books on the history of this castle.
It is a medieval castle dating back to the year 802. It stands on its own grounds, on top of a hill overlooking Lake Trasimeno, on the Tuscany – Umbria border. It is surrounded by pine and oak woods, cypress trees and olive groves. This location, besides being extremely panoramic, has given it an enormous strategic importance throughout the centuries, as the current border was, until 1860, that between the Church State and the Granduchy of Tuscany.
Many of the castle’s original features, such as gunports, battlements, moat, dungeon etc. are still intact or carefully restored to the highest standards. Its imposing walls, added to its commanding position, enhance the feeling of being drawn back in time when entering its secluded courtyard or looking out from the ramparts or the many gunports at the stunning views on Lake Trasimeno and the adjoining Valdichiana.

Notwithstanding its quiet and secluded position, the castle is a short drive from Italy’s main North-South motorway (the A1), and 5 kms. from the Rome – Florence railway line. A wide range of shops and services can be reached in a few minutes’ drive. In fact, the Castle is only 10 mins. from Cortona, 30 from the Perugia airport and Montepulciano, 45 from Siena and Assisi and 1 hr. from Florence and Orvieto.

The Castle, as it is now, obviously underwent many changes throughout the centuries, although the main ones can be traced back to the second half of 1500, when most fortresses ceased to have strategic importance due to the introduction of artillery. The castle was turned from a military outpost into a place of residence and a fortified village, and thus made more comfortable to live in, with larger windows and a large gate replacing the old drawbridge for easier access. At the same time, a dungeon was built into the north turret, while the main watchtower was roofed to obtain more living space, including a large gallery on the third floor.

The restoration was carried out using original materials and antique techniques, under the close supervision of the Superintendency of the Fine Arts. The circular courtyard encloses five buildings: the main palace, the guest house, the church, the old dungeon, and the car port. The buildings, all in grey stone, host altogether a total of 28 rooms and 11 bathrooms, including 2 halls, one of which has been turned into a spacious library.

Main building features:
– on the ground floor: one big hall (120 sq. mt. – 1290 sq. ft.), the keeper’s apartment (80 sq. mt. – 860 sq. ft.), the workshop (80 sq. mt. – 860 sq. ft.), the cellar (130 sq. mt. – 1400 sq. ft.) and two public toilets.
– on the first and second floor: the owner’s apartment (170 sq. mt. – 1830 sq. ft.)
– on the third floor: the library (the former portraits gallery) (130 sq. mt. – 1400 sq. ft.).
– on the fourth floor, where restoration hasn’t been completed,  there is  the possibility to arrange up to  five more bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms (300 sq. mt. – 3230 sq. ft.).
The guest house is divided into 4 independent apartments, with individual entrance, each with ensuite bathroom and fireplace, plus a maid’s room  with its own bathroom and storage for linen and other household items. In the same building there is also the old wood oven of the castle,  which has been completely restored. (total of 360 sq. mt. – 3870 sq. ft.)
The car port, the former coach-house, can hold up to six cars (130 sq. mt. – 1400 sq. ft.).
The church, dating back to the year 1230, has its own sacristy and is still consecrated.
Along the circular walls with battlements lie four turrets oriented to the main cardinals and one is the old dungeon.

The total covered area is about 1800 sq. mt. (19360 sq. ft.), while the inside garden is about 1500 (16140 sq. ft.). The property also includes about 79 acres of olive groves and woods with pines, oaks, holm oaks, cypresses, junipers and has a small ston! e barn f or tractors.
There is also an helicopter landing site.
It has been recently obtained the authorities approval for :1- Restoration of the dungeon tower, which will be turned into a romantic apartment with an enchanting view on the moat and the lake.
2- A further house of up to 200 sq. mt. (2150 sq. ft.), which was dismantled in 1950, can be rebuilt inside the walls, between the church and the dungeon tower.
3- Building of a new house of about 450 sq.m. (4840 sq.ft.) inside the property, in a panoramic site, with annexed swimming pool.

Technical data:

The castle’s restoration (1988 – 1994) saw the total refurbishment of  all the main structures, such as roofs, floors and staircases.
Given its status as a listed heritage site the restoration was carried out under the continuous  supervision of the architects and staff of the Ministry of Culture.
Doors and window frames are all new but made by local artisans in chestnut timber, using traditional Tuscan techniques and styles.
All the internal antique features that were in acceptable shape were left in place after being completely restored.
The roofs were restored using the anti-earthquake technique. Thus the wooden structure of beams and crossings, left in sight the traditional way, has been connected with steel to a concrete frame and covering, and duly reinforced by steel nets. On top is placed insulation, a waterproof tar layer and, at last, the visible covering of antique tiles. All the roofs are accessible for inspection.
All the restoration work carried out on the stone walls was made using the “cuci-scuci” technique: the portions of walls to be restored were numbered stone by stone, photographed and then dismantled. The reconstruction was made using the photos as a guide to put the stones back in the exact place where they were before.

The electrical system is completely new since electricity was not p! resent b efore the restoration.
The system works on both the 240 and 380 Volts supply, the latter for  water-pumps and heavy machinery.
The system has been divided in many sub- systems, each one independent and protected by separate switch-boards with anti short-circuit devices for each apartment or area.
The main switch-board and the telephone line have protectors both for short-circuits and lightning. Both the electrical and the telephone lines run on poles through the property while the last part, approaching the castle, lies underground.

The main heating and cooking systems run on gas for which there is, far from the buildings, a large (5000 litres) underground tank.
Each apartment has its independent heating system with a boiler that supplies also hot water.
The owner’s house has an heating/hot-water system running on both gas or wood with a fireplace and a wood-burning stove connected to the heating and hot-water systems. All gas piping is leak-proof in PVC for exterior lines and copper for internal ones, protected by two separate sets of control units equipped with safety high-pressure valves.

There are three separate water systems:
A 100 meters deep well, by the barn outside the walls, , supplies fresh potable water directly to the apartments and other living areas. The well is monitored by an electronic water level gauge.
This fresh-water system is also equipped with a softener-purifier fitting.
The second system is connected to a freshwater spring lying within the property itself, which was the only freshwater source until 1992, with pumps and pipes feeding a water-tank of 30 tons. The system is mainly used for watering the garden by the means of an underground  irrigation fitting and connected to the outside taps. It may be also temporarily used in emergency, in case of well-pump failure, to feed the buildings, simply by switching a valve.
The third system catches rain water coming from the roofs and is th! en colle cted into two more tanks, which in case of a black-out, supply the owner’s apartment by gravity. All water piping is in copper while all exhausts are in PVC.
Toilets flush into a system of septic tanks in triple stage which result in clean water that is dispersed in the fields inside the property.

The castle is considered an exceptionally safe place, as all the buildings are protected by the walls’ curtain, which has an average height of 27 feet. Also, because of the moat, it is impossible for cars and other vehicles to arrive next to the walls. There is only one entrance closed by an old iron gate and the lower range of windows is equipped with antique iron gratings. An electrically operated gate closes the road entering the property.

The most important economic resources for the area are tourism and agricoltural products (wine and olive oil). There are also many artisan activities, also very  appreciated by visitors.
In recent years attention is given also to the preservation of natural resources.

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