We have some good friends – delightful company and above all sensible down to earth people. At least that was what their friends thought until they bought the ruin of a large house on top of a hill outside Sansepolcro in Tuscany. When I say ruin; it had been left to the mercy of the elements for many years. There were four walls and almost no roof. The internal floors had gone, a few rotten beams survived, windows and outside doors were no more, and the track of a herd of wild deer was worn through the debris on the subsoil of the ground floor.
Mary and Terry planned to renovate this ruin and restore it to its former glory. With the help of an excellent local Italian builder and to the amazement of their friends they have wrought a miracle. It was a slow laborious miracle. So far it has taken five years and it is about seventy five percent finished. It will be completed by summer 2014 in time for the wedding of their daughter Katie, and when the family is not using it they will let it.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so I leave it to the accompanying pictures to tell the story of what they have achieved.
We stayed with Mary and Terry at Fodo on the hill in May 2013. As I sat in the arched sitting room sipping a glass of Prosecco a wonderful feeling came over me; I felt a peace like I don’t remember ever having had before. I was conscious that down below was Sansepolcro, Italy and the world with all its cares and I was no part of them. It was an experience for me that must have been similar to that recorded in the bible when Peter didn’t want to come down from the Mount of Transfiguration and said: ‘It is good for us to be here.’
The restoration has been sensitively done turning the ruin into an amazing and distinctive villa. The original character of the building has been preserved and, remarkably, as you will see, its furnishings are entirely appropriate to its character. In all of its main rooms we saw only one item that was out of place – a Waterford glass table lamp. If you decide to go there you can put it into a drawer for the duration of your stay!
However, kitchens, bathrooms and shower rooms have all been furnished to the very highest modern standards. There is a sophisticated central heating system, but there are in the main sitting rooms also wood burning stoves and there is an endless supply of logs to burn.
We came down from the mountain after our visit to Mary and Terry refreshed, but mystified as to how they had created from a ruin this magical place. Originally when they showed us the ruin and told us of their plan we thought they were nuts. Now we don’t know why they don’t sell up at home and move to live permanently in Fondo.