I have a great passion for the Gothic and Moorish taste, in vogue in the Nineteenth century. At university I had an exam about gothic novels, nowadays considered fun stories for children or perfect for teenagers looking for a noir twist.
Then a few years ago I discovered the Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, sold at every corner in Granada. I’ve adored it and I found myself dreaming of following this rich American gentleman, who in the 1830s could afford traveling in Europe and live in Spain for years, even inside the Alhambra itself, doing historical reserch and writing these short stories, between historical reconstruction and legend.
The same spirit that must have animated Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona, who in the same years began the construction of the huge Sammezzano Castle, near Florence.
Today, after been for many years a luxury hotel, the castle lies in the almost total abandonment, except for the rare occasions when the volunteers themselves have had the opportunity to take guided tours, so requested to make the booking platform crash!
The castle will soon be put up for auction again, for the third time: the risk is twofold, as if institutions are not taking responsibility, the castle could be acquired by another private hotel company, which no longer allows the public use, or worse, not be bought by anyone and run then into a relentless degradation.
For several months some eager fans (you can find their names and profiles here) have therefore organized a petition to ensure a museum destination to the castle, as it should be for such an impressive architectural complex, that tells the story of a certain period of the European taste thanks to its 16 richly decorated buildings and large garden where some redwood trees are planted too.
I dream to visit it in a few years, maybe at the end of the renovation work that will be necessary in any case. And I’m sure that you will be of the same mind: just take a look to the beautiful interior pictures.
There is just one think you shoul do right now:
The pictures are all by Eleonora Costi, aka Ell, young psychologist and photographer in Milan, involved in a project of Urban Exploration: Abandoned H. Ell, telling through photography abandoned places, including Sammezzano castle, as well as villas, kindergartens, hotels, nightclubs, convents.
I travel through Italy looking for places full of stories and lives, left in oblivion to the rule of dust: from homes still decorated with large frescoed halls to former mental hospitals, churches, colleges and monasteries. A photographic project that, in my intention, should give to the viewer a feeling of awe, wonder and confusion and raise awareness to safeguard all these wonders.
Find all the pictures of the project on her website > eleonoracosti.com