Villa Fiori, that elegant sleeping beauty of a palazzo at Bagni di Lucca Ponte, has been put at auction several times in the past few years. In 2011 the reserve price for the property at its first sale was euro 2,250,000. No buyer could be found. Villa Fiori was again put at auction in 2013, again without success. In November 2015 it was decided to put Villa Fiori at auction for the third time. This time the reserve price was halved to Euros 1,050,000 but by the close of the bidding last April again no buyers could be found.
The fourth time the Bagni di Lucca comune tried to find a buyer was last month. The price was again lowered, this time to below a million euros. The building still remains unsold.
What does one get if one buys villa Fiori?
The cellar is over 400 square metres. The first and second floor adds another 1,200 square meters. Then there’s the delightful tower terrazza which is 400 square metres. So there’s plenty of space for a growing family – although it’s probable that conversion to a hotel or time-share flats could be more likely options.
The current aspect of Villa Fiori is the result of architect Paolinelli’s remodelling. He transformed a nineteenth century gothicky villa into its present aspect between 1916 and 1917. The house is an example of the eclectic taste prevalent in early twentieth century buildings. The presence of gothick towers in the garden are somewhat at odds with the villa’s neo-classical style but it must be remembered that they belong to its earlier ‘look’.
There are, in my view three reasons why the villa has still not been sold.
- The current economic climate in Italy means that buying a property (except in the centre of art cities like Florence or commercial hubs like Milan) is generally not a good investment – house prices are still falling – often up to 30% and more since 2008’s crash.
- The building has been empty for some time (it was formerly used by the health services) and, consequently, the usual damp and perhaps some rot has set in, I would estimate that essential restoration would add another half a million euros to the reduced price.
- Only part of the original gardens is included: just 8,470 square metres of the original area which is at least three times as much. There’s an ugly car park to one side of the villa and the most picturesque part of the garden by the banks of the river is now a public park used for such events as the extempore art exhibition.
All said, however, the villa must be sold. The comune can’t afford to keep it and any monies from the sale will go into paying off its considerable debts. The longer Villa Fiori stays shut up and neglected the higher the restoration costs will be for any prospective buyer.
The incredible thing is that, in another part of the world, London, most of the housing stock now rarely sell for less that half a million pounds. At the top end, if one goes to Mayfair for example, a six-bedroomed house would set one back 50,000,000 pounds and the surface area would be a just a fraction of the villa Fiori’s…
I realize that it’s location, location, location when buying a house. The location of the Villa Fiori, however, and the views one gets from it of the verdant Lima Valley, the wonderful parties one could hold in it and the dinner evenings one could take in the picturesque loggia would more than compensate for the boring street views of London’s exclusive properties, where a high crime rate, traffic pollution and the noise would also be included in a price well over fifty times the amount it would cost to buy the villa Fiori.