This historic abode was not only the home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Princess Elisa, but was also the former address of the first King of Italy, Victor Emanuel II of Savoy.
Now, centuries later, the 18,000 square-metre Villa Reale Di Marlia in the province of Lucca has been sold by Lionard Luxury Real Estate ahead of a huge project to convert it into a luxury hotel.
Villa Reale di Marlia is one of a host of significant, large villas within Lucca, all erected in the 15th century in the countryside surrounding the town. The estate was recently bought for an undisclosed sum from the Pecci Blunt Counts, by an unnamed Swiss couple who claim they will open one of Italy’s foremost hotels.
The villa is surrounded by a 19-hectare English style park, with parts of the garden original from the 1600s, including the magnificent Green Theatre that was created in 1652 – an open air theatre, with walls adorned with yew hedges and dotted with terracotta statues.
The villa’s interior includes a grand ballroom where the princess was known to give memorable parties and the great violinist Niccolò Paganini directed his orchestra. Rumours at court suggested a love affair between the two.
After the fall of Napoleon, Elisa abandoned the Villa di Marlia which then became property of the Duchess of Parma and then of the Asburgo Lorena family.
Following the formation of a unified Italy it was then passed onto Victor Emanuel II of Savoy, the nation’s first king, before falling into the hands of Prince Carlo Prince of Bourbon. After various other occupants and owners, the Pecci Blunt Counts reportedly managed to save the property from destruction, following various debts.