Holiday homes in Italy's unspoilt Maremma region

Britons and Tuscany have a timeless love affair. The unspoilt landscape of Italy's Maremma region, with its romantic, terracotta-tiled cottages and charming stone and stucco homes, is the new spot for renovators.
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The Italians have never quite understood the British obsession with renovating their wrecks - those romantic, terracotta-tiled cottages that pepper the Italian landscape. In Tuscany, where draconian planning rules make renovation particularly challenging, it's generally British, German and Dutch buyers who are willing to take on the authorities and put the necessary time, effort and cash into creating new homes from old.

Carlo Paracciani is an exception to this rule. After a career working around the world for multinational companies, he lives in Rome with his British wife and three teenage sons but returns regularly to his family estate in the Maremma, an unspoilt coastal swathe of southern Tuscany, where his sister, brother and 87-year old mother also have separate homes.
In the middle of the family's rural and peaceful estate, Paracciani has just completed Borgo Santa Chiara, the transformation of a ramshackle farmhouse into 10 new three-bedroom townhouses. Classical Tuscan architecture meets up-to-date building design in a project that has been a labour of love for him and his family.

"I grew up here and love this place," he says. "There is a big part of family and heart here for me and I want my sons always to keep a place here."

In the Seventies Paracciani's late father began to develop the family farm by planning a golf course. Pelagone Club, now owned by a European hotel company, has a well-established and popular 18-hole course, one of five in the Maremma. It means that owners at Borgo Santa Chiara live beside a golf course, have access to play there but have none of the costs associated with looking after it.

Borgo Santa Chiara and Casa in Toscana, through Savills: (020 7016 3740) 


Beaches and marinas are within a 15-minute drive of Borgo Santa Chiara. Image: Alamy
The two-storey stone and stucco homes of 1,455sq ft to 1,720sq ft are built in two terraces around landscaped grounds and have wide, chestnut-wood windows, pale terracotta tiles, underfloor heating and paint washed ceiling beams. Villeroy & Boch bathrooms are included but, as is usual in Italy for new-build property, kitchens are not fitted. Outside, each home has a small irrigated garden with pergola and there is a communal pool overlooking the ninth hole of the golf course.

The stunning, historic city of Grosseto is 30 minutes away by car, the nearest beach and marina are within 15 minutes and lovely hilltop towns, including medieval Massa Marittima, are on the doorstep for perfect alfresco dining.

Prices start from £559,500 with annual service charges including insurance and pool maintenance around £1,700. Owners will have an on-site concierge to oversee property maintenance and manage rentals.


From £559,500: new houses at Borgo Santa Chiara. Call 020 7016 3740

The Maremma stretches from Elba in the north to the Argentario peninsula in the south and is filled with sandy beaches backed by dense forests of Mediterranean pine trees, large national parks and agricultural land farmed by butteri, the traditional horseback herdsmen.

"The Maremma is one hour from Pisa airport yet is still unknown compared with most of Tuscany - but more and more people are discovering it," says Nik Barnewitz of Casa in Toscana which is selling Borgo Santa Chiara.

"It offers so much, from water sports at upmarket beach resorts like Punta Ala, to golf, horse riding and of course, some great wineries." Prices peak around Argentario where villas close to the marinas command seven-figure prices. Punta Ala is also in demand. Casa in Toscana is selling a five-bedroom house with exceptional views over Punta Ala marina out to Elba and Corsica for £1,974,000.

Well inland but with distant sea views, Cluttons Italy has a three-bedroom restored stone house in Scansano, east of Grosseto, for £489,500 ( (00 39 075 845 0100)).
Renzo Piano, architect of London's Shard, has completed one winery in his career and it is in the Maremma. He designed Rocca di Frassinello as a personal favour to Paolo Paneri, a firm friend and former journalist who first interviewed him in the Sixties.


Renzo Piano-designed Rocca di Frassinello winery in the Maremma

Rocca di Frassinello is a collaboration between Paneri and Baron Rothschild, with 78 hectares of sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes planted around an angular concrete and glass factory-style building with one tall, rectangular red tower. The core of this extraordinary building is the cellar, where 2,500 oak barriques - barrels - line up on all four sides, as though in an auditorium. The room is 130 feet square with no visible supporting columns, and in the centre a shaft of sunlight illuminates the space. "When you get down there and look around you will be moved to tears," says Piano.


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