Return of the ghost coast: Italian resort where rich and famous lived La Dolce Vita in the 1950s set for rebirth with lavish hotels and multi-million-pound villas

Source: Daily Mail Travel

There was a time when Castiglioncello was the playground of Italy’s most beautiful people, a favourite seaside haven for those who marked the golden age of the country’s cinema that brought films such as La Dolce Vita to the silver screen.

It was la dolce vita – the sweet life – that they came for as they sipped Tuscany’s famous Chianti either in the confines of their lavish villas or in the town’s famous nightclub la Ciucheba until it all unravelled in the 1980s.

Stars of the era including La Dolce Vita star Marcello Mastroianni, along with Vittorio Gassman, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Paolo Panelli e Bice Valori and many more called the town their temporary home while movies such as Il Sorpasso and Pellegrini d’Amore featuring a young Sofia Loren were filmed there.

The sweet life could be yours for more than £7million at the former residence of famous Italian actor Alberto Sordi

The sweet life could be yours for more than £7million at the former residence of famous Italian actor Alberto Sordi

But as the town that once unseated Sorrento as a favourite summertime escape for the well heeled fell out of favour, the deluxe villas that had been popping up since rich baron Lazzaro Patrone bought up the coastal land in the late 1800s were often left with for sale signs hanging at the front and their stunning views without anyone to enjoy them. 

But a relaunch is on, says Lionard Luxury Real Estate‘s Ian Heath, who recently sold one of the village’s most iconic properties and is delighted to see it returned to its former glory as a hotel and has another, the former residence of one of Castiglioncello’s most famous residents on the books.

Sordi stars in 1961 film The Best of Enemies

Sordi stars in 1961 film The Best of Enemies

On the market with Lionard is the Villa Corcos, the summer haven for Alberto Sordi from 1962 to 1997. One of the most beautiful villas in Castiglioncello, it has breathtaking views from its 9,700 square foot main house and 6,500 square foot lodge terrace.

The property listed for more than 10 million euros (£7m) is just one of 16 multi-million pound properties the agent has listed while Villa Pontello was also recently sold on behalf of Count Flavio Callisto Pontello, the builder and ex-president of Serie A football club Fiorentina.

Built originally by the baron patron for the painter Vittorio Corcos, hence its name, Sordi bought the villa from the artist’s daughter and used it as a place to retreat to rather than a home, like many of his contemporaries did with their coastal properties.

The Italian entrepreneur who next bought the property restored the villa to its former glory and paid tribute to the past owners by including portraits of Sordi and Corcos in the reworked study.

The property is described by Lionard as ‘a most iconic slice of that bygone era’ and the purchaser has ‘a chance to contribute to the rebirth of this once great holiday town.’

Castiglioncello, with just 3,000 inhabitants and very little scope to expand, is dubbed ‘agreeably unpretentious’ these days by Lonely Planet.    

Seemingly untouched by mass tourism, its beaches are pristine while the Pasquini Castle, built in the late 1880s by Baron Patrone, is a reminder of its past glories and now used by the Municipality for cultural events including a traditional dance festival, and literary and photography competitions.   

One of the more remarkable structures of the town and formerly owned by the wealthy Bulgari family, Villa Godilonda is being reinvigorated as a lavish hotel by an unnamed Russian businessman who bought it for £4.3m late last year.

The property’s main villa has 28 bedrooms, a winter garden and a spa with sauna, massage rooms and a Turkish bath, and is nestled in 11,000 square metres of park and Mediterranean scrub. It also has a private beach and space for a helipad.

Stars sipped Tuscany's famous Chianti either in the confines of their lavish villas or in the town's famous nightclub la Ciucheba until it all unravelled in the 1980s

Stars sipped Tuscany’s famous Chianti either in the confines of their lavish villas or in the town’s famous nightclub la Ciucheba until it all unravelled in the 1980s

Built at the end of the 19th century, Godilonda was owned by the American Carter family from 1924 and after World War Two became the Bulgari’s summer residence.

It became a hotel in the 1980s but closed in 2007. After years of dilapidation, the villa with the name that translates to ‘enjoy the waves’ – as given by writer Gabriele D’Annunzio after a romantic night there – is getting a rebirth as ‘one of the most luxurious and beautiful hotels in the world’.

‘After the degradation of the last years, the villa can finally live again, and contribute to the relaunching of one of Tuscany’s most beautiful seaside resorts,’ says Lionard’s Heath.

An old postcard show Castiglioncello was a bustling haven for the rich and famous before the economic downturn in Italy during the 1980s

An old postcard show Castiglioncello was a bustling haven for the rich and famous before the economic downturn in Italy during the 1980s


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