As regular readers know, Charlemagne was not, by nature, an urbanite. “This city desert makes you feel so cold,” he wrote to Alcuin from Rome in the year 800. “It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul.” (Tot cives, sed animam non habet.) Frankly, I think the old emperor was onto something. After all, what’s the real value of having mass transit and a post office within walking distance when instead, with sound financial planning, you can spend your golden years pacing the ramparts of a mountaintop fortress while scanning the horizon for orcs?
Apparently, one European real-estate firm believes Charlemagne’s name can help sell such a castle:
A castle which straddles the border between Tuscany and Umbria and whose first known owner was Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, has been launched on the market.
The location is on the old road between Rome to Florence passed here and famous travellers, among them Goethe, Byron and Hawthorne, visited the castle.
Many of the castle’s original features such as gunports, battlements, moat, dungeon are still intact or carefully restored to the highest standards. The circular courtyard encloses five buildings: the main palace, the guest house, the church, the old dungeon and the garage.The grounds extend to 32 acres of olive groves and woods.
The castle is a short drive from central Italy’s main historical cities, 45 minutes from Siena, 1 hour from Florence and Orvieto, 1hr 45 from Rome, 10 mn from Cortona and 30 mn from Perugia and Montepulciano. There is also a helipad on site.
According to the International Herald Tribune, the castle dates from 802, so even if Charlemagne did own the property, he didn’t spend a single night there, because he never returned to Italy after his imperial coronation. For €13 million, I’d want proof that the emperor once admired those olive groves—or at least evidence that he used the helipad.