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Report - Non Plus Ultra - Tuscany - May 2015 (Pic Heavy)

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Paradox, Jul 8, 2015.

  1. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Where do I even start! I visited here with Bigjobs, Mortal Decay and four others. We were on our jollies and as far as I was concerned it was just going to be 12 days dicking about in Europe, swimming in lakes, drinking beer, celebrating a few birthdays, a bit of wild camping and generally just chilling out.

    Now Non Plus Ultra had been mentioned as a potential spot to stay but, being honest, I had no idea what it was or where it was, well apart from the fact we were in Italy so I'd guessed that much. Driving towards it Jobs pointed it out to me and from a distance it looked awesome.

    Leaving the cars at the bottom of the hill we trekked up to take a closer look, and yes I moaned all the way to the top....Are we nearly there yet?, is it much further?, my legs hurt, I don't like hills, I need a wee....ahem well you get the picture!

    However when we finally rocked up at the top (ok ok it was only about a 20 minute walk but hey it was all uphill!!) all my moaning was forgotten and quickly replaced with an oooooooooh that's pretty, I like :D

    It was also a popular family day out, with people wandering round taking in the view of the Castle, surrounding buildings and gardens. Not put off we just bided our time, chilled out in the gardens, had a picnic, drank beer and when the coast was clear made our way in.

    Jobs had been in for a while before I went in and when I got in instinct was to grab my camera and go take pics, but Jobs stopped me, told me to leave the camera and just look. So leaving the camera in its bag I set off for a good old mooch and hell I was glad I'd left my camera where it was.

    To try and describe it is almost impossible, it's unique, it's ornately beautiful, it really is quite breathtaking, anyone listening would have heard me oohing and ahhhing with a few wow thats amazing thrown in! Room after room of mosaics, mirrors, carvings, all leading to the main room. A circular white room with colourful rooms of different designs and styles leading off in every direction.

    But that wasn't all, secret passages, I just love secret passages and this place had them everywhere. Doors carefully hidden in rooms leading to stairways and corridors to other parts of the castle. Presumeably used by servants in a time long past.

    It was easy to get lost, I'd go through one door and come out somewhere comepletely different from where I expected. I'd lose doors and not be able to find my way back to where I wanted to go. It was sooooooo much fun!

    I did take a few pics that night but as it was starting to get dark and the lighting wasn't in my favour I decided to wait till morning and instead settled down with beers and Prosecco and a moonlight mooch up on to the roof to take in the view. I didn't take my camera and didn't want to get lost by myself in the dark going to get it so no roftop pics :(

    Whilst the original rooms are utterly amazing, this has not been carried through to when it was converted into a hotel and the rooms were bland and standard. Although the leather settees made for a comfy nights sleep.

    I didn't see the whole castle, by the time I'd got up in the morning and taken hundreds of photos (it's really difficult to decide what to photo so I just photo'd everything lol) of the main rooms and not wanting to get spotted through the windows on the ground floor by any random visitor, I decided it was best to call it a day.

    oh yeah almost forgot, here is some history too, mainly courtesy of www.swide.com .....

    Surrounded by a large park, it was originally built at the beginning of the 17th century by the the noble Spanish
    Ximenes d’Aragona family. It was a place with a centuries-old history, having hosted important residences (for example, the place was home to Charlemagne in 780, and also became the property of the Gualtierotti, Altoviti and de ‘Medici families at different times). But it was only in the 19th century that the building took on the Arabic identity that has made it famous.

    It was Marquis Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes (1813-1897) – who had inherited the castle – who set out to redesign the building, creating this wonder by extending and transforming the existing building through nearly 40 years of work.

    With 365 rooms, one for each day of the year, the main structure is an eclectic building in Moorish style, which was part of that typically 19th century phenomenon defined Orientalism, namely the artistic and stylistic movement that aimed at recovery and imitations of the visual arts, of applied arts and of oriental and Middle Eastern architecture.

    The beautiful castle is a prime example of architectural orientalism in Italy and, during the 1800s, experienced a period of great glory and fame (in 1878, it hosted King Umberto I of Italy) but thereafter, in the decades to come, was not properly cared for and valued. In fact, on the death of the Marquis at the end of the 19th century, a period of uncertainty about the fate of the castle opened up.

    With the arrival of the 20th century, the castle was plagued by misfortune and devastation: during the Second World War, in particular, the Germans looted the castle, pillaging especially from the park, which was richly decorated with statues and architectural pieces. After the war, the castle came back to life as a luxury hotel. Then, for many years, it was left without an owner, in a state of complete abandonment.

    After being a luxury hotel after the Second World War, the castle was sold at auction in 1999 to a British company, but nevertheless remained in a state of neglect for another twenty years. The company originally intended to build a large sports complex with adjoining golf course but, as a result of economic problems, the project was abandoned and the castle, in fact, forgotten.

    Only recently, in 2012, was hope rekindled that
    the castle would regain its lost splendour: in fact, a non-profit committee – the FPXA Committee named after Marquis Ximenes d’Aragona – was set up to promote and enhance the charming building, which by this time had become the property of Palmerstone Hotels & Resorts, which intended to turn it into a luxury sports village. The committee arranges a few open days each year for people to go and view.

    The castle is also special outside: it is surrounded by a huge park, one of the largest in Tuscany. Built in the mid 19th century, it was originally home to a large number of exotic and rare tree species, like Californian redwoods, but also furnishing and small architectural elements in Moorish style (a bridge, an artificial cave, pools, fountains).

    Only a small part of the botanical heritage of the original park is known to us, although recently the replanting of species envisaged in the original design has started (araucaria, thuja, palm, yucca, oak, Atlas cedar, Lebanese cedar, hackberry and many others). The park also boasts a number of records: in particular, there is a 46-metre high sequoia, the tallest tree in Tuscany and one of the highest in Italy.


    And sorry lots of pics (contraversially taken using both a Canon with fisheye lens and Nikon with a standard kit lens) :O

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    Anyway thanks for looking :D
     
    #1 Paradox, Jul 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015

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  2. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    The 'Monster'

    Taking a quick walk down the drive you come across an unsightly concrete beast! The structure was designed around the 70 and, once finished, would have to become a palace of congresses and hotel. The 'monster' however, was never completed and left there in the woods. A hunk of ugliness crumbling away spoiling the place for over thirty years.

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    #2 Paradox, Jul 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
    The Kwan and jdotn15 like this.
  3. PROJ3CTM4YH3M

    PROJ3CTM4YH3M 28DL Regular User
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    sick some really cool shots! failed twice here!
     
  4. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Cheers mate :D, have another go though its frikken amazing!
     
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  5. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
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    that is epic stuff :thumb
    What a contrast - an assault on the senses then the concrete beast
    Looks a really interesting mooch, good work
     
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  6. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks Wombat, the whole place is just so much fun, the secret doors and passageways are insane! you can just imagine the sorts of parties they had going on there! ;)
     
  7. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    My god, you certainly get about! Nice shots as usual (and controversially I quite like the look of that unsightly concrete beast too...) ;)
     
  8. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks :D I try my best IH, didnt event think we were exploring on this trip either lol
     
  9. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Bloody hell 365 rooms, It looks lovely Hils and possibly a good project for Mr Trump.
     
  10. fb

    fb big in japan
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  11. drhowser

    drhowser Bespectacled & irrelevant
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    I was really glad when I saw that you'd been here, it's properly amazing isn't it!

    Definitely should have slept on the roof though. The view in the mornings is something else.
     
  12. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    We were just bothered about being spotted as it had been really busy on the Saturday, turns out that there was no-one about on the Sunday lol. And yeah it is, I could have spent days there!
     
  13. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Actually slightly lost for words, that place is the epitome of awesome.
     
  14. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks fb :D

    Mate it was incredible, my photos do not do it justice in comparison to just wandering round looking!
     
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