The Castle of Sammezzano is a rare example of eclectic and Moorish architecture in Europe. Over the second half of the 19th century, this formerly medieval castle was transformed into a fine example of the Orientalist fashion by Marchese Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona. Ferdinando was influenced by several Eastern trends, focusing on two particular styles: Arabic-Moorish, with its white “intertwined ropes” of stucco, and Indo-Persian, characterized by strong polychromatic colours. Following the Second World War, the castle became a luxury hotel. However, for over 25 years the site has been unoccupied and neglected with its ownership remaining insecure. As a result, broken windows have gone unmended and leaking roofs unrepaired, which in turn led to severe water damage and major deterioration of the fabric of the building. The lack of security has laid the site bare to thefts and vandalism.
The origins of the Castle of Sammezzano data back to the Roman period. In the middle ages, it was a defensive fortress. Subsequently the ownership passed between various noble families of Florence, ending up with the Medici. Around 1595, it was bought by the Portuguese nobleman Ferdinando Ximenes d’Aragona and remained in the family until 1814, when it passed into the Panciatichi family via the wife of the last Ximenes d’Aragona. Two generations later, it became the property of the man who changed its destiny: the Marchese Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona. Between 1842 and 1890, Ferdinando completely reshaped a medieval castle into an Orientalist palace in line with the fashion of the time.
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