CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Italian villa of The Pope: AND THE BILLIONAIRE SQUARE

 

 

 

 

  Relaxing: Pope Benedict apparently spent two to three months a year in the idyllic location, a stones thrown from Italy's capital The dilapidated Durham Cottage, the former home of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Chelsea, west London, is on the market for £7.5m after failing to sell at auction yesterday    

Locals living beside stunning lakeside papal summer palace claim he's 'abandoned' it for being 'too luxurious'

  • Castel Gandolfo, just 12 miles from Rome, has been the summer residence of the Pope for generations
  • And every time a Pope arrives, hundreds of pilgrims follow in his wake - bringing business to the town
  • But current Pope Francis has never spent more than a day, and never a night, at the luxurious property
  • The locals who rely on the papal visits for work tell MailOnline they feel Francis has 'abandoned' them

Seated on a rocky perch above the turquoise waters of Lake Albano, far from the hordes and heat of Rome, Castel Gandolfo has given a long line of popes reason to offer thanks.

The papal hilltop summer retreat, 10 minutes by helicopter from the Vatican, has been a source of inspiration to some pontiffs, such as youthful John Paul II who spent a total of six years of his 27-year papacy there and built a swimming pool in the grounds.

But the famously frugal Pope Francis has shunned the luxurious palace, passing through just four times during his 28-month tenure, with no overnight stays.

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Stunning: Castel Gandolfo soars above the turquoise waters of Lake Albano, 12 miles south-east of Rome

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Stunning: Castel Gandolfo soars above the turquoise waters of Lake Albano, 12 miles south-east of Rome

Grandeur: For generations, Popes have made the trip to the small town to visit Castel Gandolfo, followed by reams of pilgrims

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Grandeur: For generations, Popes have made the trip to the small town to visit Castel Gandolfo, followed by reams of pilgrims

Close: It is just 10 minutes from the Vatican by helicopter, so is a quick escape for the Pope should he need a break

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Close: It is just 10 minutes from the Vatican by helicopter, so is a quick escape for the Pope should he need a break

Big business: The town which surrounds the residence has long relied on the pilgrims who come to see the Pope at his country retreat

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Big business: The town which surrounds the residence has long relied on the pilgrims who come to see the Pope at his country retreat

Neglect: But the current Pope Francis - seen here in Ecuador this week - has never spent more than a day here

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Neglect: But the current Pope Francis - seen here in Ecuador this week - has never spent more than a day here

As the third summer of Francis’ reign gets underway the villagers are dreading another summer season without the star attraction. While in most parts of the Catholic world he enjoys the popularity of a rock star, the townspeople, who have relied on the pilgrim trade for their livelihood for generations, are less than impressed with the new pope who they complain prefers ‘poverty and degradation’ to their well-kept and devout town.

Despite concerns for his health, and appeals from advisors to take a break, Francis, who claims not to have taken a holiday since 1974, clearly finds the idea of retiring to the lap of luxury too decadent.

Former pope Benedict arrived for a short break at the palace last week but will not give the Sunday addresses that pull in the pilgrims. Francis is currently far away on a visit to his native South America. And with important conferences on the environment and the family coming up in the autumn he is expected to get straight back to work on his return, starting each day as usual at 4.30am.

Meanwhile work is just a distant memory for restauranteurs faced with empty tables, and shopkeepers forced to offer discounts on their souvenirs.

In recent months they were hurt that Francis came to the other side of the lake to do spiritual exercises and to the palace to bless a statue by an Argentinian artist but did not come into the village.

Deserted: Locals feel the pontiff has abandoned them as he jets around the world. 'He is too busy,' one told MailOnline

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Deserted: Locals feel the pontiff has abandoned them as he jets around the world. 'He is too busy,' one told MailOnline

Impressive: Others have suggested the immaculate lawns and hedges, not to mention the luxurious interiors, are too much for the Pope

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Impressive: Others have suggested the immaculate lawns and hedges, not to mention the luxurious interiors, are too much for the Pope

Clash of ideals: Pope Francis has won fans around the world thanks to his modest way of life - and this garden doesn't fit the bill

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Clash of ideals: Pope Francis has won fans around the world thanks to his modest way of life - and this garden doesn't fit the bill

Attraction: Pope John Paul II - who spent six years of his 27 year papacy at Castel Gandolfo - is seen here celebrating the Angelus in 2004. Events like this drew hundreds, if not thousands, of people to the area who never otherwise would have visisted

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Attraction: Pope John Paul II - who spent six years of his 27 year papacy at Castel Gandolfo - is seen here celebrating the Angelus in 2004. Events like this drew hundreds, if not thousands, of people to the area who never otherwise would have visisted

Predecessor: Pope Benedict XVI began his retirement here, waving to the crowds from the window the final time as head of the church

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Predecessor: Pope Benedict XVI began his retirement here, waving to the crowds from the window the final time as head of the church

Unusuaul: It is not just the Pope which adds something special to Castel Gandolfo - the Swiss Guards also add interest

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Unusuaul: It is not just the Pope which adds something special to Castel Gandolfo - the Swiss Guards also add interest

Relaxing: Pope Benedict apparently spent two to three months a year in the idyllic location, a stones thrown from Italy's capital

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Relaxing: Pope Benedict apparently spent two to three months a year in the idyllic location, a stones thrown from Italy's capital

Warning: Andrea, a souvenir seller, told MailOnline that if Francis continues to stay away 'things will become very different here'

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Warning: Andrea, a souvenir seller, told MailOnline that if Francis continues to stay away 'things will become very different here'

As Andrea, a souvenir seller in the village’s centre square said: ‘He is loved in all the world. We are the only ones who are not happy with this new pope.

‘I know many of those close to him tell him come to Castel Gandolfo, rest. But he never comes here. Maybe the palace is too luxurious for him.’

When Benedict was in power he would come for two or three months every year, he said. ‘If this pope continues to stay away, things will become very different here. We in Castel Gandolfo have to make all our money in summer so we can live off it in the winter. If we don’t make our money, what do we do the rest of the year? ‘

I know many of those close to him tell him come to Castel Gandolfo, rest. But he never comes here. Maybe the palace is too luxurious for him.

Souvenir seller Andrea

Maria, who runs a gelateria, said grimly: ‘He doesn’t come because he considers the palace too luxurious. He prefers to go to the places where there is degradation and poverty.

Diana Chrysandreas, who has managed the Art and Art souvenir shop for four years, says that locals feel he has abandoned the town. Shrugging her shoulders she insists: ‘We haven’t seen him, he’s too busy for us.’

Businesses were at risk of failing, she explains, with young people being forced to leave town to find jobs in Rome.

Pizza-maker Mirko Bizarri, said: ‘There used to be more than enough customers for everyone but now there’s not enough work. This pope is a good one, but he has broken a tradition.’

In Bar Carosi, the village’s oldest coffee bar, octagenarian Maria Pisa Carosi explained that since that no pope in living memory had eschewed the town’s charms, to do so was bound to cause offence

Signora Carosi said: ‘I’ve seen every pope come though since the war. They all came. We understand everyone must do as they think best, and this pope is following the behaviour of a Franciscan, like his namesake. But John Paul spent five months here every year…

She added: ‘Of course he was a saint.’

Concerns: Locals speak of days when there were more than enough customers for everyone to make money in the summer months

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Concerns: Locals speak of days when there were more than enough customers for everyone to make money in the summer months

Upset: Octagenarian Maria Pisa Carosi, who has seen every Pope visit the town since the war, said the neglect was bound to cause offence

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Upset: Octagenarian Maria Pisa Carosi, who has seen every Pope visit the town since the war, said the neglect was bound to cause offence

Life and death: Two Popes have even died at Castel Gandolfo - Pope Pius XII died here 1958 (pictured) followed by Pope Paul VI in 1978

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Life and death: Two Popes have even died at Castel Gandolfo - Pope Pius XII died here 1958 (pictured) followed by Pope Paul VI in 1978

 

 

Famous guests: Before he died, Pope Pius welcomed director Cecil Demille (right) to Castel Gadolfano (left, and Pope Pius relaxing, right)

New ideas: But Pope Francis is aware of the problem, and the Vatican has opened the palace's gardens and farm for the first time

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New ideas: But Pope Francis is aware of the problem, and the Vatican has opened the palace's gardens and farm for the first time

Tourism: People visit the Madonna garden, part of the gardens at Castel Gandolfo. There are less visitors since Francis became pope

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Tourism: People visit the Madonna garden, part of the gardens at Castel Gandolfo. There are less visitors since Francis became pope

Faith: But many say the village remains devout, whether or not the Pope continues to visit them

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Faith: But many say the village remains devout, whether or not the Pope continues to visit them

The Vatican have said that Francis would help the villagers ‘in his own way’. One response has been to bring in some tourists by opening the palace’s gardens and farm to the public for the first time.

But with tours open only to a small number of visitors there has not been any palpable boost to trade, Signora Carosi explains.

At the end of last year’s disastrous season Festival of the Madonna of the Lake, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the effective bishop of the Gandolfo Pontifical Villas, brought a special blessing from Francis to the village.

The previous year the local mayor wrote an open letter to Francis appealing to him to visit.

Milvia Monachesi wrote ‘the absence of the pope has reduced the numbers of tourists visiting Castel Gandolfo, which has hit business in the historic centre especially bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.’

Busy: Pope Francis is given a sombrero from Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday during his tour of South America

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Busy: Pope Francis is given a sombrero from Bolivian President Evo Morales on Thursday during his tour of South America

‘But the feelings of townsfolk towards the pope are still of affection, admiration and solidarity. We follow all his endeavours with great interest, even if we are saddened by his absence, as we would be by that of a close friend.’

Anna Maria Vici Torrigiani, who runs a souvenir shop there, said that the village remains devout, even if they lost faith in Francis.

‘We in the village have always had a bond with all the popes. But I prefer to think of this bond as suspended not finished. I hope one day our love story will continue. '

 

 

 

 

 

Wall-to-wall frescoes, baroque gardens and a butterfly house: The Italian villa that inspired Pinocchio goes on sale for £150MILLION

The beautiful villa where Pinocchio author Carlo Lorenzini spent his childhood is on the market.

Those interested in delving into the inspiration behind the world's most famous marionette, can buy the property for a mere £150million.

Five-storey Villa Garzoni in Collodi, 65km from Florence, well known as 'Pinocchio’s villa', was built in 1600, boasts 40 bedrooms and measures 3,032 square metres. Inside, the main rooms are decorated with frescoes by renowned Italian artists, including Angelo Michele Colonna.

The partially restored property is elevated above one the most spectacular Italian baroque gardens in the whole of the country.

Lionard Luxury Real Estate, which is behind the sale, compare Villa Garzoni’s elaborate gardens, first imagined by the architect Diodati to those, at Versailles and Fontainbleau in France and Schonbrunn in Vienna, Austria.

Created around 1650 for the Roman marquees Garzoni and completed more than 170 years, the garden, which is dotted with waterfalls and fountains is open to the public and features a Butterfly House, home to hundreds of tropical butterflies.

The whole estate is shrouded in history, and attracts thousands of visitors each year, which is why Lionard is targeting a foreign market that 'understands the potential and invests in improving and increasing the touristic demand linked to the fable of Pinocchio'.

Looking to buy? The 5500 square metre estate, known as Villa Pinocchio, is on the market for around £150million

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Looking to buy? The 5500 square metre estate, known as Villa Pinocchio, is on the market for around £150million

Quite roomy: The 3,032 square metre property consists of five floors and 40 bedrooms, not to mention sprawling gardens and butterflies

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Quite roomy: The 3,032 square metre property consists of five floors and 40 bedrooms, not to mention sprawling gardens and butterflies

The partially restored property boasts one of the most spectacular Italian baroque gardens in the whole of the country

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The partially restored property boasts one of the most spectacular Italian baroque gardens in the whole of the country

Ornate: Inside, the main rooms are decorated with frescoes by top Italian artists, including Angelo Michele Colonna

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Ornate: Inside, the main rooms are decorated with frescoes by top Italian artists, including Angelo Michele Colonna

The property features beautiful tiered Baroque gardens which were first imagined by the architect Diodati

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The property features beautiful tiered Baroque gardens which were first imagined by the architect Diodati

An insight into the past: Villa Garzoni was built in the mid-1600s and has 40 spacious bedrooms

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An insight into the past: Villa Garzoni was built in the mid-1600s and has 40 spacious bedrooms

The mansion is located in Collodi, a medieval town dating to the 12th Century and is typical of the villas of the Lucca province

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The mansion is located in Collodi, a medieval town dating to the 12th Century and is typical of the villas of the Lucca province

Magnificent: The elaborate gardens were created in 1650 and were tended to by author Carlo Collodi¿s family members

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Magnificent: The elaborate gardens were created in 1650 and were tended to by author Carlo Collodi¿s family members

The estate attracts thousands of visitors each year, which is why its sellers are targeting a foreign market

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The estate attracts thousands of visitors each year, which is why its sellers are targeting a foreign market

Ancient relics: The partially restored palace is just 65km Florence and is shrouded in history and fable

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Ancient relics: The partially restored palace is just 65km Florence and is shrouded in history and fable

A medieval castle in Tuscany set over more than 1,500 acres has gone on sale in Italy making it the largest private home on the market. 

The stunning estate found slightly east of Siena boasts farmhouses, vineyards, woodland and sunflower fields in its grounds. 

Built in the early 12th Century it is one of few medieval castles which remain in Europe and is thought to have been the home of Pope Pius II and III at one time. 

The property, whose owners wish to keep themselves and the castle's name unknown, is being sold by Sotheby's International for 28 million euros - almost £20million. 

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A medieval castle in Tuscany set over more than 1500 acres has gone on sale for just under £20million making it the largest private home on the property market

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A medieval castle in Tuscany set over more than 1500 acres has gone on sale for just under £20million making it the largest private home on the property market

The castle has its own restaurant where wines made from the grapes in its vineyards are served alongside produced farmed from the grounds

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The castle has its own restaurant where wines made from the grapes in its vineyards are served alongside produced farmed from the grounds

While it is not known who first lived in the castle or commissioned its construction the property remained in the hands of one prominent family for centuries. 

The Piccolomini family are thought to have lived there intermittently from the 15th Century. Two of the family's most notable members, Enea Silvio Piccolomini and Francesco Piccolomini went on to become Popes Pius II and III. 

Little is known of how the noble family cultivated their wealth other than that many of their riches were acquired through trading. 

Having spent decades in the ownership of the family, the castle it changed hands sometime in the 1920s.

The new owner remained anonymous, selling on the sprawling estate again in the 1980s. 

It has since remained in the possession of its current owners who refused to disclose why they were moving on. While estate agents are reluctant to reveal exactly where in the rolling Tuscan hills the special property can be found, they promised it to be one of rare value. 

'It's very rare in Italy to have a medieval castle, there are so many that came before and after, mostly after, but to find a medieval one is rare,' said John Jonk, who is handling the sale for Sotheby's International. 

'All the original fireplaces and ceilings are in tact. It's a very special opportunity.' 

While in total the estate has more than 100 bedrooms most are found in farmhouses and smaller properties scattered across its grounds. These are rented out as holiday accommodation while its vineyard and restaurant attracts diners. 

In the castle itself are 10 bedrooms and as many bathrooms, a drawing room and dining room. 

Elsewhere on its sprawling grounds are sunflower fields and farmland, added Mr Jonk. 

The villa just east of Sienna is one of few from the early 12th Century which remain in Italy. All its fireplaces and ceilings have been preserved from their original state 

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The villa just east of Sienna is one of few from the early 12th Century which remain in Italy. All its fireplaces and ceilings have been preserved from their original state 

Aside from the property's 10-bedroom main castle there are several farmhouses scattered around its grounds from the same era 

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Aside from the property's 10-bedroom main castle there are several farmhouses scattered around its grounds from the same era 

The Piccolomini family are thought to have lived in the castle intermittently from the 15th Century and two of the family's most notable members, Enea Silvio Piccolomini and Francesco Piccolomini went on to become Popes Pius II and III

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The Piccolomini family are thought to have lived in the castle intermittently from the 15th Century and two of the family's most notable members, Enea Silvio Piccolomini and Francesco Piccolomini went on to become Popes Pius II and III

The castle is a very rare find in Italy because it dates back to medieval times, according to John Jonk, who is handling the sale for Sotheby's International

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The castle is a very rare find in Italy because it dates back to medieval times, according to John Jonk, who is handling the sale for Sotheby's International

Mysteriously the existence of the castle is not widely known and it has never really been filmed or appeared on television

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Mysteriously the existence of the castle is not widely known and it has never really been filmed or appeared on television

The castle also has its own chapel and vineyard. It belonged to the same family for generations before being sold privately in 1920 

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The castle also has its own chapel and vineyard. It belonged to the same family for generations before being sold privately in 1920 

Another historic mansion set in Tuscan countryside (related)

 

'There's a lot of woodland, there's a vineyard. 

'From some parts of the property there are views of Siena too.' 

Although the property is one of the few remaining of its kind in Italy it has remained mysteriously off the radar for decades. 

'That's the interesting part - there have been television crews that have come from Rome over the years and have interviewed people in the restaurant in the castle but it hasn't really been used for filming or anything like that,' Mr Jonk said. 

In its restaurant staff serve red wine and food produced on the grounds. With herds of boar and deer roaming its fields too there is no shortage of wildlife to entertain visitors. 

'When people talk about organic foods, this is what is meant. In Italy everything is still quite good that way, it's very organic.' 

Despite its large price tag, Mr Jonk added the property had attracted attention from all over the world. 

'We have had interest from European buyers and non-European buyers. 

'It's a special opportunity for someone who can afford it but, as I tell my clients, to find an exclusive property in London nowadays wouldn't cost much less.' 

For more information contact Sotheby's International Realty here

The estate has more than 100 bedrooms in total with most being found in farmhouses and smaller properties scattered across its grounds

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The estate has more than 100 bedrooms in total with most being found in farmhouses and smaller properties scattered across its grounds

Set in its 1500 acre grounds are vineyards and sunflower fields. Sotheby's International Realty described the sale as a 'special opportunity' 

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Set in its 1500 acre grounds are vineyards and sunflower fields. Sotheby's International Realty described the sale as a 'special opportunity' 

The estate agents have been reluctant to reveal exactly where in the Tuscan Hills the stunning estate is, but they promise the property is of rare value  

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The estate agents have been reluctant to reveal exactly where in the Tuscan Hills the stunning estate is, but they promise the property is of rare value  

The estate has attracted interest from potential buyers across the globe , despite its rather large price tag

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The estate has attracted interest from potential buyers across the globe , despite its rather large price tag

From some parts of the extensive grounds the 12th Century property was said to boast stunning views of the Siena

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From some parts of the extensive grounds the 12th Century property was said to boast stunning views of the Siena

Sotheby's John Jonks said: 'It's a special opportunity for someone who can afford it but, as I tell my clients, to find an exclusive property in London nowadays wouldn't cost much less.'

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Sotheby's John Jonks said: 'It's a special opportunity for someone who can afford it but, as I tell my clients, to find an exclusive property in London nowadays wouldn't cost much less.'

YOURS FOR THE SAME PRICE, A THREE-BEDROOM MAIN ROAD FLAT IN CENTRAL LONDON

With sprawling grounds, multiple smaller properties and access to your own vineyard, many can see the perks of paying £20million for their own Tuscan castle in Italy. 

But any hopes of snapping up a similar deal closer to home have been dashed by the ever inflating prices of London flats. 

For roughly the same price as the castle near Siena, house-hunters can just about afford a three-bedroom flat in the heart of the capital. 

While One Hyde Park apartments afford owners an exclusive postcode and plush surroundings - set between Harrods and Harvey Nichols in London's Knightsbridge - the glass-fronted flats don't quite offer as much space. 

In fact the internal floor space of one flat sold last year for more than £20million was less than 4,000 sq ft. 

The living room in one of the three-bedroom flat at One Hyde Park, a luxury apartment complex in Knightsbridge

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The living room in one of the three-bedroom flat at One Hyde Park, a luxury apartment complex in Knightsbridge

 

A private island is up for sale in Florida, US - and prospective owners are being invited to 'make an offer.'

So if you think your bargaining skills are up to scratch, this could be the perfect opportunity to snare yourself that not-so-little piece of luxury.

Little Bokeelia Island consists of 104 acres and includes an updated manor house that was originally built in 1928.

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Little Bokeelia Island in Florida, US, is up for sale for $24.5million, but people interested are encouraged to 'make an offer'

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Little Bokeelia Island in Florida, US, is up for sale for $24.5million, but people interested are encouraged to 'make an offer'

Little Bokeelia Island consists of 104 acres and includes an updated manor house that was originally built in 1928

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Little Bokeelia Island consists of 104 acres and includes an updated manor house that was originally built in 1928

The interiors of the main property on the island are luxirious to say the least, fitting in with your idyllic surroundings

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The interiors of the main property on the island are luxirious to say the least, fitting in with your idyllic surroundings

The elegant property consists of four bedrooms and four bathrooms. As well a large main house, the island near Bokeelia, Florida, also includes several small cottages.

The island is on the market for £24.5million, but Michael Saunders & Company, who are leading the sale, are willing to listen to any (sensible) offers.

ABC News report that the couple who own the island are looking for a quick sale after developing the portfolio over 26 years, as they wish to focus more effort on carrying out Christian missionary work.

Little Bokeelia Island: A pricey private island in the U.S.

 

The owner has developed the island and beautiful properties over a period of 26 years

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The owner has developed the island and beautiful properties over a period of 26 years

The roomy residence allows friends and family to be able to share with the new owners a slice of the good life

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The roomy residence allows friends and family to be able to share with the new owners a slice of the good life

The island offers a perfect mix of privacy, coupled with easy access to mainland Florida and transport links

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The island offers a perfect mix of privacy, coupled with easy access to mainland Florida and transport links

A personal tour of the island, with lunch included will cost £100,000, so although there is no minimum price listed, realistic interest is warranted to splash out on the visit.

The sellers' website states that the island is 'prized for its location and coveted for its privacy.'

Little Bokeelia Island is surrounded by state and privately owned land that can never be developed, therefore forever maintaining its unequaled privacy and views.

Little Bokeelia Island is surrounded by state and privately owned land that can never be developed

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Little Bokeelia Island is surrounded by state and privately owned land that can never be developed

The furniture and decor inside the proerty exudes class and elegance, and the owners are hoping this style of owner can be found too

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The furniture and decor inside the proerty exudes class and elegance, and the owners are hoping this style of owner can be found too

A personal tour of the island, with lunch included will cost £100,000, so although there is no minimum price listed, realistic interest is warranted

A personal tour of the island, with lunch included will cost £100,000, so although there is no minimum price listed, realistic interest is warranted

The island is perfectly positioned between Sarasota and Naples, only 1 hour from Ft. Myers International Airport and 1.5 hours from Sarasota-Bradenton Airport.

There is approximately 3.5 miles of shoreline, and 29 large waterfront lots were granted a development order in perpetuity, allowing the opportunity for future development subject only to the creative expression of its new owner.

The island is fully serviced with electricity from the mainland, reverse osmosis water plant and multiple back-up generators.

The island is seen here, with its own enclave of water, surrounded by lush greenery for a fresh way of life

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The island is seen here, with its own enclave of water, surrounded by lush greenery for a fresh way of life

As well a large main house, the island near Bokeelia, Florida, also includes several small cottages

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As well a large main house, the island near Bokeelia, Florida, also includes several small cottages

The island is fully serviced with electricity from the mainland, reverse osmosis water plant and multiple back-up generators

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The island is fully serviced with electricity from the mainland, reverse osmosis water plant and multiple back-up generators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Belgrave Square in central London is one of Britain's most expensive addresses
  • A majority of the owners of the properties on the square - 27 out of 30 - are foreign nationals
  • Prices range from £7 million for a mere apartment up to an estimated £60million for a house

From the outside,  elegant Belgrave Square appears exactly as it was when Thomas Cubitt first built its grand houses in the 1820s – exclusive, noble, expansive – and, famously the London home of the British aristocracy.

But behind the opulent facades, a quiet social revolution has been taking place: most of the square’s grand mansions have now been bought by foreign multi-millionaires, including some whose wealth is so outrageously vast they are listed as billionaires.

Using offshore companies to avoid scrutiny, and stamp duty, the international super-rich have been discreetly acquiring the capital’s trophy assets – making this, in the process, the richest residential square in the country. 

Expensive address: Most of Belgrave Square in London has now been bought by foreign multi-millionaires, including some whose wealth is so outrageously vast they are listed as billionaires

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Expensive address: Most of Belgrave Square in London has now been bought by foreign multi-millionaires, including some whose wealth is so outrageously vast they are listed as billionaires

A short car tour of the Belgrave Square and London area

 

The buyers are typical of the brash new money flooding into London, which hosts 72 billionaires – ten per cent of the world’s total –not to mention a growing number of super-rich worth £100  million or more.

And they are paying hugely inflated prices for houses, ranging from £7  million for a mere apartment up to an estimated £60  million – for ‘homes’ which in many cases are rarely occupied. Last week it was reported that London has become the millionaire capital of the world per head of population, ahead of New York and Tokyo, based on analysis by the New World Wealth consultancy.

The owners of Belgrave Square symbolise this new wealth. The majority are resident but non-domiciled which means they do not have to pay tax on their overseas income.  For this privilege they pay an annual fee of £50,000 – petty cash for an oligarch or tycoon.

Despite prices now at £3,000 per sq ft, London remains the most attractive place for the foreign rich to park their money and educate their children. And they reside in a tiny enclave of which Belgrave Square is the epicentre.

Dominated by embassies and consulates, there are fewer than 30 homes, but at least five of the owners are billionaires. Only three are owned by Britons, and few are occupied full time. At night it has a ghostly feel.

Here we introduce some of  the more notable members of the residents’ association…

Fomichev

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Gennadiy Bogolyubov

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Barclay Brothers

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Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah

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Sheikh Mohammed

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Sheik Jassim

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Oleg Deripaska

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notable residents

 

 

 

The dilapidated ivy-covered mansion which was used as a love nest by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh is on the market for £7.5million.

Sir Laurence bought the four-bedroom property in Chelsea, west London, to share with his new lover in 1937, after splitting from their respective spouses  following their secret affair.

They moved into the home while working together on Fire Over England and christened the detached two-storey house, which they owned for 19 years, Durham Cottage.

The dilapidated Durham Cottage, the former home of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Chelsea, west London, is on the market for £7.5m after failing to sell at auction yesterday

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Dilapidated: Durham Cottage, the former home of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Chelsea, is on the market for £7.5m after failing to sell at auction yesterday

The ivy-covered property, which was used by the celebrity couple between 1937 and 1956, has a garden covered in leaves and weeds but is being marketed by estate agents as a 'magical unmodernised house in the heart of Chelsea'

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Ivy covered: The house has a garden covered in leaves and weeds but is being marketed by estate agents as a 'magical unmodernised house in the heart of Chelsea'

But despite its romantic history - and being located in one of the most prestigious parts of London -  the property failed to sell at auction on Tuesday night.

A petition on change.org set up by what has been called The Vivien Leigh Circle', which is calling for the property to be listed by English Heritage, said there had been a final bid of £6.9m.  The cottage, which is on the market with several estate agents, has a run-down garden which is covered in leaves and weeds, while the inside of the house also appears to be in a dilapidated state.

As well as its four bedrooms, a reception room, a garage and two bathrooms, the house is set in its own grounds behind a stucco wall and pillared gates.

The property, which includes this run-down reception room, was run by the couple's small staff of a cook-housekeeper, Vivien Leigh¿s personal maid and a daily cleaner. Speaking in 1954, the British actress complained about 'drawbacks' to the inner city cottage

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The property, which includes this run-down reception room, was run by the couple's small staff of a cook-housekeeper, Vivien Leigh's personal maid and a daily cleaner

The house has four bedrooms, a reception room, a garage and two bathrooms and is set in its own grounds behind a stucco wall and pillared gates

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Private: The house has four bedrooms, a reception room, a garage and two bathrooms and is set in its own grounds behind a stucco wall and pillared gates

The former coachman’s cottage, which is described as agent Russell Simpson as a 'magical unmodernised house in the heart of Chelsea', was built in 1850 and bought by Sir Laurence for him and his lover to live in while they worked together for the first time on the 1937 film, Fire Over England.

It was run by their small staff of a cook-housekeeper, Vivien Leigh’s personal maid and a daily cleaner. But speaking in 1954, the actress complained about 'drawbacks' to the inner city cottage.

She said: 'It is in London and we’ve furnished it for our life here. It has a lot of drawbacks.

The former coachman¿s cottage was built in 1850 and bought by Sir Laurence for him and Lady Olivier to live in while they worked together for the first time on the 1937 film, Fire Over England

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History: The former coachman's cottage was built in 1850 and bought by Sir Laurence for him and his lover to live in while they worked together for the first time

'Nobody visiting it would ever dream it could be inconvenient or that those ‘fascinating’ stairs winding around, with the landing forming a balcony in the drawing-room, could be a nuisance.

'Several years ago we built on the dining-room. Before that we used to eat in the entrance hall - you can imagine the drawbacks to that.'

Sir Laurence and Vivien Olivier began an affair at the height of their careers, while married to other people.

After initially concealing their relationship, they eventually split from their spouses and married in Santa Barbara, California, in 1940.

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh began an affair at the height of their careers, while married to other people. After initially concealing their relationship, they eventually split from their partners and married in Santa Barbara, California, in 1940

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Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh began an affair at the height of their careers, while married to other people. After initially concealing their relationship, they eventually split from their partners and married in Santa Barbara, California, in 1940

Born in Darjeeling, India and educated in Europe, the actress won two Academy Awards for her roles in Gone with the Wind, made in 1939, and A Streetcar Named Desire, made in 1951.

But she received almost as much attention for her personal life and relationship with Sir Laurence.

The pair had a tumultuous relationship and Sir Laurence had affairs with other actress in the 1950s, including Claire Bloom, with whom he co-starred in Richard III.

Olivier and Leigh divorced in December 1960 after which Sir Laurence married actress Joan Plowright. He died from renal failure at his home in Sussex in July 1989.

He became one of just a few actors to be given the honour of his ashes being interred in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Vivien Leigh - who was considered one of the most beautiful actresses of her day - began a relationship with the actor Jack Merivale after the divorce. She died in July 1967.

50 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms, a church and a library: Inside the sprawling Italian convent which is on sale for £13million

  • A historic convent in Tuscany is up for sale for the price of a three-bedroom penthouse in Marylebone
  • The 15th century Giaccherino has 50 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms, a church, a library and even an olive grove
  • Property is listed with Sotheby's International Realty for £13million (€18million)

Since the Sound of Music holiday makers from around the world have wondered what it would be like to spend a night in a convent.

They could soon find out as a historic Italian convent has been put up sale in Tuscany with planning permission to transform it into a impressive hotel or conference centre.

Although the sale price of £13million (€18million) may seem steep, it is a bargain price as Giaccherino has 50 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms, a church and a library.

A convent, more than 80 times the size of the average UK home, has been put up for sale for the price of a three-bedroom flat in London

A convent, more than 80 times the size of the average UK home, has been put up for sale for the price of a three-bedroom flat in London

Giaccherino, in Tuscany, boasts a staggering 50 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms, a church, a library and even an olive grove

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Giaccherino, in Tuscany, boasts a staggering 50 bedrooms, 40 bathrooms, a church, a library and even an olive grove

The huge estate has 78,000 square feet of accommodation, which is 85 times the size of the average new home in the UK.

The magnificent 15th century property also comes complete with an olive grove, cloisters, beautiful wall frescoes and a vast woodland which covers nearly 22 acres.

There is even a colourful history to go with the Giaccherino, which became a valuable centre of theological studies during the 17th century.

The holy dwelling was originally used for a community of Franciscan friars of the Primitive Observance.

On completion of the property in 1414, Pope Innocent VII handed the property to the monks and over the years it has been used as an oratory and hospital for pilgrims.

Giaccherino became a valuable centre of theological studies during the 17th century and has two cloisters with stunning frescoes

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Giaccherino became a valuable centre of theological studies during the 17th century and has two cloisters with stunning frescoes

The property is listed with the Sotheby's International Realty as an opportunity for one of the most impressive private homes in Europe, or as a possible hotel or conference centre.

Fulvio Biagioli, sales manager at Tuscany Sotheby's International Realty, said: 'This convent is of real historical significance and any private buyer would have to have a strong passion for restoration and history.

'The original frescoes offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to live amongst the works of the Florentine masters and the olive groves and land could be turned into some of the finest private grounds in the country.

'If a private individual was to buy the convent they could create one of the most incredible private homes in the world.'

Outside there is an olive grove that is positioned at the bottom of the property and there is a private, 22-acre woodland

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Outside there is an olive grove that is positioned at the bottom of the property and there is a private, 22-acre woodland

The price indicates just how powerful the London housing market is, as the convent is just £500,000 more than a penthouse apartment in the new Galliard development, Chilterns, in Marylebone.

David Galman, sales director at Galliard Homes, said: 'It always boils down to location, location, location. London is the best city in the world for a whole number of reasons.

'You can have the penthouse, or you can spend the £13million on a castle or convent in Italy.

'But in five years the convent will be worth the same or less, while the penthouse will be worth more.'

The Italian property could become one of the most impressive private homes in Europe or be transformed into a hotel or conference centre

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The Italian property could become one of the most impressive private homes in Europe or be transformed into a hotel or conference centre 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This spot in Colorado's Vail Valley is so picturesque that a family stopped at nothing to build their home here - even if it meant shelling out $1 million just on the driveway.

The Italian-inspired mansion, which has incredible 360-degree views across the mountains, has now gone on the market for a tidy $29.5 million.

Homeowner Dick Rothkopf, a former toy company chief, chose the location for the estate in 2008 because his family enjoyed hiking in the nearby hills.

But the property is so remote that it took two years, a team of engineers and $1 million to build the 1.5-mile driveway from the roadway to its front door, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Incredible: This Italian-inspired mansion in the mountains of Vail, Colorado has gone on sale for $29.5 million

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Incredible: This Italian-inspired mansion in the mountains of Vail, Colorado has gone on sale for $29.5 million

Stunning: The home, which was built in 2008, is made from materials brought over from the homeowner's trips to Italy

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Stunning: The home, which was built in 2008, is made from materials brought over from the homeowner's trips to Italy

Spacious: Inside the 13,000-square-foot home is a spacious gourmet kitchen, which is perfect for entertaining guests

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Spacious: Inside the 13,000-square-foot home is a spacious gourmet kitchen, which is perfect for entertaining guests

Opulent: The entire property has eight bedrooms and eight full bathrooms over two buildings, as well as an outdoor barn

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Opulent: The entire property has eight bedrooms and eight full bathrooms over two buildings, as well as an outdoor barn

European: The luxurious home is known as 'Il Podere' - which means 'family homestead' in the Tuscan region

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European: The luxurious home is known as 'Il Podere' - which means 'family homestead' in the Tuscan regionNo details were spared at the 17,000-square-foot estate itself, either.

The home, which is known as 'Il Podere' - meaning 'family homestead' - was built on 230 acres of land using materials collected during the Rothkopfs' trips to Italy.

It features a main residence with seven bedrooms, seven full bathrooms, three half bathrooms, an elevator and a gourmet kitchen across 13,000 square foot.

There's also a billiard room, a gym, an indoor basketball court and a home theater.

Outside is a pool with a spa and sauna, a pool house, a two-car garage and a tennis court, as well as a lake, a pond, a stream and stunning views.

Comfortable: A massive fireplace in a living room offers comfortable nights in for humans and pets alike

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Comfortable: A massive fireplace in a living room offers comfortable nights in for humans and pets alike

Hidden: Beneath arches and down walkways are recreation rooms for both children and adults

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Hidden: Beneath arches and down walkways are recreation rooms for both children and adults

Airy: Large windows and terraces give terrific views across the Vail Valley in Colorado

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Airy: Large windows and terraces give terrific views across the Vail Valley in Colorado

Beautiful: As well as an office, the main home has seven bedrooms and seven full bathrooms

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Beautiful: As well as an office, the main home has seven bedrooms and seven full bathrooms

Fully equipped: A large gym can also be found at the home, as well as a spa and a sauna

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Fully equipped: A large gym can also be found at the home, as well as a spa and a sauna

Luxury: There is a movie theater inside the home, as well as a billiard room and an indoor basketball court

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Luxury: There is a movie theater inside the home, as well as a billiard room and an indoor basketball court

Serene: The home is 25 minutes from Vail's ski slopes and less than two hours from Aspen

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Serene: The home is 25 minutes from Vail's ski slopes and less than two hours from Aspen

Picturesque: The family who built the property chose this spot in Vail because they enjoyed hiking there

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Picturesque: The family who built the property chose this spot in Vail because they enjoyed hiking there

There is also a 2,000-square-foot caretaker's house, with one bedroom and one-and-a-half bathrooms, while a separate barn also houses a loft and a bathroom.

And if the home itself doesn't offer enough entertainment, it's just 25 minutes from Vail's ski slopes, an hour and 45 minutes from Aspen and two hours from Denver.

The listing with Douglas Elliman calls the estate 'breathtakingly beautiful, tranquil, pristine'.

The family is leaving to build a home in Sonoma, California but plans to buy a smaller place in Vail so they can still make use of its slopes.  

Large: As well as a separate building for a caretaker, the estate also has a barn with a loft and a bathroom

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Large: As well as a separate building for a caretaker, the estate also has a barn with a loft and a bathroom

Determined: Its current owners were intent on living at the location so built a $1 million to the house

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Determined: Its current owners were intent on living at the location so built a $1 million to the house

Vistas: A swimming pool and terrace area gives unobstructed views across the valley

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Vistas: A swimming pool and terrace area gives unobstructed views across the valley

Restful: There is also a spa and a sauna at the home, as well as a separate one-bedroom caretaker's house

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Restful: There is also a spa and a sauna at the home, as well as a separate one-bedroom caretaker's house

Great outdoors: The estate, which also has a stream and pond, stretches across nearly 17,000 square foot

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Great outdoors: The estate, which also has a stream and pond, stretches across nearly 17,000 square foot

Secluded: The driveway, which is a mile and a half long, took a team of engineers and two years to build

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Secluded: The driveway, which is a mile and a half long, took a team of engineers and two years to build

Incline: The lengthy driveway also takes visitors up 700ft towards the sprawling estate

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Incline: The lengthy driveway also takes visitors up 700ft towards the sprawling estate

 

 

 

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