So when he chose to develop a Tuscan resort you might picture a pale, stone borgo in the vine-clad hills near Siena. But no, Leonardo has chosen to create a contemporary marina resort along the wild, undeveloped and for most Britons unknown Maremma coast in southern Tuscany. His exciting plans for Marina di Scarlino are not without their challenges but Leonardo's infectious passion for both the area and for yachting means he might just pull this off.
"I spent most of my childhood summers along the Maremma so yes there is a sentimental attachment," he acknowledged. "It has intense, unspoilt nature."
Leonardo's late father Salvatore made his name creating bedazzling shoes for Hollywood's finest, from Judy Garland to Marilyn Monroe. He set up shop beside the Arno in Florence in 1938, is credited with inventing the wedge sandal and laid the foundations for the highly reputable and successful Salvatore Ferragamo international empire. His son, now 58, entered the family company aged 20. Today, along with his hotel business, he also owns two luxury boating brands Nautor's Swan and Camper & Nicholsons.
Marina di Scarlino is 90 minutes from Pisa airport and Siena, two hours from Rome and Florence. For boat-lovers its location in the Med is faultless: it looks across to Elba, one of seven islands in the Tuscan archipelago all within an hour or two. Corsica and Sardinia are to the north, the South of France is five hours west and Portofino within three hours.
Leonardo bought the marina in 2011 and has created a hi-tech, efficient and attractive operation with 960 berths of 19ft to 118ft. Along the quayside there are small, quirky boutiques a refreshing absence of high-fashion expensive names affordable restaurants and food shops, a functional laundry and full concierge services.
0pened this summer is a smart Balearic-inspired Puro Beach Club, a surprisingly urban choice perhaps for rural Tuscany but its all-white, waftinglinen décor is welcoming and resolutely family friendly.
There are 39 completed apartments for sale on the waterfront, all different from one-bedrooms of 517sq ft to two-bedrooms of 1,345sq ft. All have large terraces and while there is no compulsion to rent, Puro Beach will manage lettings from its marina office. Low-season weekly rents start from £1,020. Apartments start from £264,500 with modern, well-chosen furniture packages from £16,200. An issue for some buyers has been the apartments' 85-year government lease, typical said Leonardo for property on the Italian coast. There is also the chance to buy an apartment, a berth and a 45ft Endeavour 42 Camper & Nicholson boat for £1.06 million.
The Maremma coast
Many Italian noble families have sizeable estates nearby, including the Antinoris, among the country's most illustrious wine makers, whose must-visit vineyard Le Mortelle, 20 minutes from the marina, serves farm-fresh food in their old farmhouse restaurant next door to a super-modern subterranean £11 million winery.
Leonardo has clear plans for the marina's future, adding more homes, holding more regattas and increasing the range of sports on offer.
"What will never change is the Maremma's natural beauty," he added. "We have a marina resort next to a national park, truly one of the finest places in the Med to have a boat."
Chesterton Humbers: chestertonhumberts.com; 0203 040 8210
Marina di Scarlino: marinadiscarlino.com
Le Mortelle: antinori.it/en/passione-in-evoluzione/le-mortelle