Villa Castellaro is owned by an American family, and we have been coming to this magical corner of Umbria for over 30 years. We first saw the property in the spring of the year 2000 after many years of looking for an Italian home.
The first time we set foot on the hillside bluff and saw its spectacular views we knew that this was a magical place. The challenge was that the original six buildings were in ruins and we knew it would take a labor of love to restore the property.
The oldest parts of the Tower House date from the 14th century and we assume that local farmers inhabited Castellaro for hundreds of years until about the 1930s when the shallow wells ran dry and the buildings were abandoned.
Main House Kitchen
The kitchen area of what is now the Main house was originally a stable and the inhabitants lived on the upper floors where the heat from the animals below would keep them warm in the freezing winters. The Studio house was built as a tobacco-drying tower where the fresh cut tobacco crop was taken and cured over weeks by low smoldering fires. Over 120 olive trees dot the 35-acre property and we continue to harvest the olives each year and make our own olive oil.
We decided to restore the property using original materials and we chose a family-run company of builders who did everything by hand. Our team consisted of an architectural designer, a garden designer, a structural engineer and our family.
Studio House from Kitchen
We started with the smallest house, the Studio, and used it as a way of trying out various materials like stone, travertine, marble and wood, so that we could make good decisions for the larger houses later on. Everything we used, each fireplace mantel, every beam, and all the bricks and stones either came from the original site or were purchased from old building sites and antique restoration companies.
Restoring houses in Italy is a time-consuming business as it requires a number of permissions from local government bodies, there are many rules (most of which are intended to preserve the authenticity of restorations) and the bureaucracy moves slowly.
It took over a year to get our first planning permissions approved and then another five years until we spent our first night at the property. Even during the construction process, things changed.
A huge problem was finding water. We had to dig a well that was over 120 feet deep, a very deep well for those parts, and even then we could only keep our fingers crossed that we would strike water, which fortunately we did.
Main House + Studio
Main House Stairs
During the six years it took to build Castellaro we would often visit local antique markets and stores in the region and would buy furniture, tiles, carpets and anything that caught our eye with a view to filling the interior of the houses.
Castellaro was always intended to be a family refuge and we are thrilled to open it up to others that want to find a home away from home.
Main House Crane
In the ten years since we moved in, the gardens have filled out, vines have grown along the old stone walls, the dining pergola is filled with wisteria, the olive trees have provided us with olive oil, and we have come to love our “paradiso” in the hills. We know you will too.