An Italian village and castle are sold for $2 million

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(CNN) — Have you ever dreamed of owning your own secret citadel in a beautiful region of Italy and walking along its fortified walls like a monarch surveying his kingdom?

For less than the price of a townhouse in central London or a penthouse in historic Rome, that dream can now come true.

The medieval castle and hamlet of Serravalle, halfway between the cities of Modena and Bologna in Italy’s northern Emilia Romagna region, is up for sale for 1.9 million euros, or about $2 million.

Already habitable and equipped with heating, it requires minimal repairs – and the price is negotiable.

Embedded in green, gentle hills, the castle lies at the foot of part of the village of the same name, which was once part of their fiefdom.

What is up for grabs is the original overhanging ancient fortress of 1,800 square meters at a height of 400 meters.

The property includes the majestic castle built on the ruins of pagan settlements, a three-story 18th-century stately palace and a lush 14,000-square-meter park.

“Not only is it very practical, approximately up to 1,000 euros per square meter, it has enormous potential both as a private, tranquil retreat to switch off and as an investment to transform it into a resort,” says Paolo Giacopini of Immobiliare Giacopini. The real estate agency handling the sale told CNN.

Secret tunnels and heated rooms

The castle was once valued for its strategic location.

The castle was once valued for its strategic location.

Paolo Giacopini Immobiliare/Conforti Immobiliare

“The charm and the panorama are incomparable, surrounded by vineyards, in a strategic position between the two top towns of Emilia Romagna, a wonderful region often wrongly eclipsed by Tuscany when it comes to castles and mansions .”

The well-kept property is currently rented out for private events and conferences, but the current owners, who wish to remain anonymous, can no longer cope with the management of the extensive property.

They live in the castle during the summer months, says Giacopini, so it’s already habitable with heating, kitchen, utilities, fireplaces, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. The two-storey hunting lodge, built as a country house, is also heated.

While the castle is immaculately preserved, other parts of the property, such as the lookout tower, built in 1227 and remodeled in 1523, could use some repairs.

Lavish Renaissance-style furniture, including paintings, may also be for sale.

Giacopini, who takes interested visitors on guided tours, says the providers are open to offers.

He explains that because of its historical and artistic value, the castle is under the supervision of regional arts authorities, which have imposed restrictions on radical structural changes such as converting a bathroom into a bedroom or vice versa.

Some of the historical features add an extra layer of intrigue. A secret underground passage connects the tower to the palace and was once used by guards fleeing enemy attacks.

The passage is cool in summer but freezing in winter. Giacopini says an American client who toured the property with him claimed his feet were almost frozen in his sneakers.

bloodshed and glory

The property includes an 18th-century palace.

The property includes an 18th-century palace.

Paolo Giacopini Immobiliare/Conforti Immobiliare

Serravalle is rich in history. For centuries, the fortress was at the heart of territorial feuds and struggles against invaders and neighboring fiefdoms. Before the unification of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, the country was divided into many city-states, or comunis, each vying for supremacy.

In the 12th century the castle was fiercely contested by Modena and Bologna for its strategic military position. Back then, a castle was a small military microcosm protecting a large part of the land, farmers and tenants.

The fortress, built on the ashes of an ancient Roman military post called Verabulum, was conquered and destroyed by the Lombard tribes in the 8th century.

After reconstruction, according to legend, the castle housed Charlemagne in the ninth century on his way to Rome to be crowned emperor, accompanied by French troops.

Although quiet and peaceful, the property is not totally isolated. The village has a certain social buzz with 40 inhabitants, a frescoed church, a traditional tavern and a wine museum which focuses on local country life.

A large stone portal decorated with a coat of arms and adorned with statues greets visitors at the entrance.

The property has been modernized several times over the years. The palace, named after the Boccadiferro family (meaning “iron jaws” in Italian), who ruled it for four centuries, has been transformed from an ancient covered loggia into a stately mansion. With around 1,151 square meters, it is the largest part of the property.

ghost stories

An underground secret passage connects the palace with a nearby tower.

An underground secret passage connects the palace with a nearby tower.

Paolo Giacopini Immobiliare/Conforti Immobiliare

In addition to the park of the Castello, the ancient moat that surrounds the hamlet of horse chestnut and ash trees, there is also a large hanging garden and courtyards, ideal for evening drinks and sunset strolls.

There is a spooky atmosphere. According to local lore, the castle and estate are haunted by the ghosts of a Boccadiferro lord who is said to have killed 12 consecutive wives. Their tormented spirits, plaintive and angry, are said to roam the corridors and halls at night in search of vengeance, leaving a whiff of their perfumes in the air.

Giacopini brushes these off as mere stories.

“The current owner’s late brother wrote a research pamphlet on the history of the place and found that Boccadiferro was so in love with his only wife that he had her portrait painted several times in different clothes, so it seemed like there were many women except he was always just her,” he says.

Serravalle is perfect for nature lovers and those wanting to sample the region’s culinary offerings.

The property is surrounded by agricultural taverns called Agriturismi, serving succulent handmade tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini. There are also vineyards that produce premium Pignoletto and DOC Colli Bolognesi wines.

Trekking, cycling and horseback riding trails can be found in the rural surroundings, while there is an 18-hole golf course nearby.

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