In 1997 Sting and Trudie bought the estate Il Palagio located about 45 minutes southeast of Florence close to the town Figline Valdarno. What began as a holiday getaway to spend the summer with family and friends was transformed over the years into a splendid domain with its own production of biodynamic wine, olive oil, honey, fruit and vegetables. From its dominant position the villa overlooks the 350 hectares property that besides the gardens also include vineyards, olive groves, vegetable gardens and a forest with 5 small lakes.
The villa originates from the 16th century but under the management of the prominent Martelli family Il Palagio had turned into a real estate by the end of the 17th century. In Tuscan dialect palagio stands for palazzo and it means mansion. In 1819 the domain was sold to the widow of the Duke di San Clemente and would remain in the possession of this noble family for the next 150 years. When Sting and Trudie bought Il Palagio from Duke Simone Vincenzo Velluti Zati di San Clemente they restored the villa, the outbuildings and the grounds to their former glory.
Upon arrival at Il Palagio Estate Manager Paolo Rossi warmly welcomed us. His father held this position before him and Paolo practically grew up on the estate.
Due to absence of the Duke it was Paolo who showed Sting and Trudie around the property when they first visited. They instantly fell in love with the place and decided they wanted to buy it, but insisted that Paolo would remain in their employment for a year. Despite the fact that he had other plans and wanted to take a sabbatical, Paolo accepted their offer and remained.
Trudie and Sting are fantastic people, simple and beautiful and I have a very good relationship with them. I’ve been working with them for 18 years and I never took the sabbatical that I had planned.
With a good glass of wine in hand we were seated in de cozy kitchen with rustic fireplace. The large wooden table was surrounded by chairs with on the back the names of Sting’s children, with at the head of the table Sting’s chair marked with the word “DAD” on the back. While Paolo told us about the history of Il Palagio we tasted a glass of Beppe Bianco and Beppe Rosato named after a man who worked on the estate no less than 59 years.
Paolo showed us around the estate and led us through the beautiful gardens, olive groves and past a meadow with four Friesian horses. The classic terrace garden was designed by British landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd and took several years to realize. She transformed the overgrown terrain into beautifully landscaped gardens that grow wilder and more natural as they are further away from the villa.
In the conservatory, equipped with kitchen, fireplace and large dining table, a delicious tasting of olive oil and honey awaited us.
We entered the forest through a gate made by one of the gardeners, his natural art can be found on several places throughout the forest area. Our discovery tour led us to a lake ideal to take a swim on a hot summer’s day or to practice yoga on the terrace under the watchful eye of a Buddha statue or to simply enjoy the view from the tree house.
Leaving the trees behind us we passed the tennis court and entered the garden on the north side of the villa. The delights this place has to offer are just never ending with a massage cabin, children’s playground, a romantic two-seater swing and a summer outdoor cinema.
Il Palagio is a warm and welcoming home with cozy seating areas throughout to spend quality time together and enjoy la dolce vita.
The highlight of the English garden is without a doubt the massive fountain with four oxen that once belonged to Sophia Loren. Nobody knows how they managed to do it, but many years ago the fountain was stolen from the actresses garden. When it was recovered some 10 years later the insurance company decided to auction it and Sting and Trudie subsequently bought it. Sophia Loren and her husband Carlo Ponti gave them an autographed photo where they pose on the edge of the fountain.
The tour ended in the wine cellar with a tasting of wines with well-known names such as Message In A Bottle, Sister Moon and When we dance, Casino delle vie is named after a house on the property. I highly recommend all the wines, they were absolutely delicious! You can order Sting’s wine at Palagioproducts.com if you are in the UK or on Amazon.com for US orders.
If you’re in Tuscany you can fill your shopping basket at the local shop of Il Palagio where all products of the estate are available. Via Sant Andrea in Campiglia 11, 50063 Figline Valdarno.
Part of the proceeds will be donated to charities supported by British couple.
Il Palagio is not open to the public, but it is possible to rent the villa or one of the other houses on the estate for vacation, parties and weddings. Visit the Il Palagio website for more information.
Click on the photos for a larger view.