the castle's web site promotes it as
one of the most romantic and beautiful wedding venues, only a few km from the centre of Florence. Plunged among the rolling Tuscan hills, it is the ideal place for celebrating your special day.So, you know, if you were thinking of getting married in Tuscany, give them a call. Just out of curiosity, would you find out for me how much it costs?
The castle's own web site reveals that this is no pristine medieval construction. As they put it,
In 1840 Sir John Temple leader was exploring the hill of Fiesole,when he came upon the overgrown ruin of a medieval castle. He instantly fell in love with it and decided to restore it to its former glory. Of the many stories he uncovered, Sir John especially coveted the one about Donna Bianca.Wikipedia tells us that under Temple's ownership the castle was "entirely reconstructed in the feudal style."
Sir John decided that Vincigliata was a perfect place to host his many noble friends. With the help of a young architect Fancelli, he started the daunting task of restoration. In pure spirit of renaissance patronage, he commissioned 80 masons, artisans, sculptors, glassmakers and antiquarians and with their help, Vincigliata was reborn after 10 years of work.
Eugène Viollet-le-Duc did some of his "restorations" with less. So who built the castle that Sir John found in ruins?
a brief article in Italian, which confirms that there was a medieval house here. In fact there is an estate inventory of 1335 that describes the place as
medietas pro indiviso cuiusdam resedii cum turre, curte, giardino, terra laborativa, puteo, e arboribus positum in populi Sancte Marie de Vincigliata comitatis Florentiae, loco dicto ala torreThat is, a house with tower, wall, garden, fields, well, and woods in the parish of St. Mary de Vincigliata in the county of Florence. So there was something fairly impressive here by 1335. However, our author (Alessandro Rinaldi) does not think that describes our house. He seems to think that whatever was there before was mostly swept away after 1365, when the property fell into the hands of the Alessandri family.
Photo from a set posted by one of my favorite bloggers, Vertigo 1871
They were not, however, soldiers. Or knights. They were merchants. Of course like most rich merchants of that era they spent some of their profits buying land, both as a safe investment and by way of elbowing their way into the old aristocracy. And what did you, a merchant trying to pass as a nobleman, build on the country estate with the money you made in banking or trade? Why, a castle!
described in a will of 1429 as "a Lordly palace with battlements and subterranean vaults, with an outer wall." Our man Rinaldi calls this new structure
an eloquent expression of the neo-feudal aspirations and mentality of the Florentine aristocracy of the 15th century.It just tickles me that our nineteenth-century English romantic, full of neo-feudal aspirations, rebuilding a castle as a place to entertain and impress his friends, was following so closely in the footsteps of the fifteenth-century Alessandri, who were also building a sort of lark instead of a fortress.