All About Italy's Sammezzano Castle Abandoned For Over 30 Years

After serving as a hotel restaurant, the Castle has been closed for over 30 years and requires immediate restoration to prevent decay
Inside view of the abandoned Sammezzano Castle, Italy
Inside view of the abandoned Sammezzano Castle, ItalyShutterstock

Sammezzano Castle, located 37 kilometres from Italy's Florence, was once owned by a prominent Florentine aristocratic family, the Panciatichi Ximenes of Aragon. Constructed in the 19th century by Ferdinando, the palace boasts intricate polychrome stuccos in rooms that resemble oriental residences. After serving as a hotel restaurant, the Castle has been closed for over three decades. According to its official website, the Castle requires immediate restoration to prevent deterioration.

The palace remains abandoned today and is reportedly only open for special events. While it may not show much decay on the outside, the interior has seen considerable improvements over the years. Inside, you'll find a diverse collection of paintings and artworks, some donated by local and international artists and supporters.

Inside view of the castle
Inside view of the castleMarat Dupri/Shutterstock


Sammezzano has a long history, dating back to Roman times and later centuries. In 780, even Charlemagne might have passed through the area on his way back from Rome. Notable families, including the Altoviti, owned the property and eventually became the possession of the Medici family under Duke Cosimo. Later, it was sold to Sebastiano Ximenes, and the Ximenes d'Aragona family held it until the last heir, Ferdinand, passed away in 1816. 

In an 1818 document, Sammezzano is described as a substantial structure with a bastion and an entrance staircase on a different side from the current access stairs, long before Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes of Aragon made modifications.

The main entrance with clock of Sammezzano Castle in Tuscany
The main entrance with clock of Sammezzano Castle in TuscanyShutterstock

The Architecture

The Castle is a unique example of Orientalist architecture, influenced by Marquis Ferdinando's passion for the Oriental style. Its blending of Tuscan surroundings with Moorish-Oriental design makes it unique, showcasing Latin mottos, Italian phrases, and even musical notes. The Castle is known for its ceramic mosaics, colourful patterns, bas-reliefs, and intricate arches.

With 65 rooms, the Castle is set in a beautiful park with various trees, including sequoias, palms, maples, oaks, junipers, and holm oaks.

 Sammezzano Castle
Sammezzano CastleShutterstock

The many rooms at the Castle, especially the ones on the main floor, transport you to different parts of the East, from China and Arabia to Spain. Even though Ferdinand never visited these places, he learned about them through extensive research and study. The rooms are adorned with Latin and Italian mottos, phrases, and comments that guide visitors through space and time. With its dual façade symbolizing the sun and moon, the Castle stands tall on the hill above Leccio.

The main entrance of Sammezzano castle in Tuscany
The main entrance of Sammezzano castle in TuscanyShutterstock

The Sammezzano Castle Park 

An abandoned guest house near the park
An abandoned guest house near the parkShutterstock

Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes of Aragon, passionate about plants and botany, also redesigned the large 65-hectare area surrounding the Castle. He added rare and exotic plants to this space, beautifying the surroundings and gradually introducing visitors to the "Moorish" style of the Sammezzano Villa-Castle. The park is known for its significant historical, architectural, and environmental value, boasting a rich botanical heritage, including the plants introduced by Ferdinand and the native ones.

You'll find famous trees in the park, particularly the sequoias (Sequoia sempervirens and Sequoia gigantea). These giant trees have thrived in Sammezzano for over 150 years, thanks to favourable soil and climate conditions.

Getting There

Sammezzano Castle is situated in Tuscany, within the Reggello municipality in the Florence province. It's located in the Leccio village, known for the high-fashion OUTLET THE MALL. You'll need to take the A1 motorway, which runs through the centre of Tuscany, and exit at INCISA - REGGELLO to get there. Follow the signs for the OUTLET. If you're coming from Bologna, this exit is the first after FLORENCE SUD.

Please note that the Castle is currently closed to visitors, and the Committee does not own it.

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