The villa that was featured in the 2003 movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" — which fed filmgoer fantasies of buying and restoring an Italian countryside villa — is being sold by a couple who owns a Sonoma winery for 9.5 million euros ($12.5 million).
The film — based on the best-selling 1996 Frances Mayes memoir of the same name — starred Diane Lane as a recently divorced San Francisco writer who decamps for Tuscany, acquires a dilapidated villa in the town of Cortona and sets forth renovating it.
After its appearance in the film, the 16th-century house was purchased in 2006 by current sellers Fred and Nancy Cline, a winemaking couple who are the proprietors of Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma, Calif.
The gated and walled compound was built in 1504 and includes a 10-bedroom, 9.5-bath main house that has a private chapel. The property also has a farmhouse, garden, private lake, new pool and bocce court.
In the film, it took a not-so-realistic few months for Lane's character to renovate the house; the Clines spent four years carefully fixing up the estate and also adding such modern amenities as air conditioning and a new gourmet kitchen.
"There were certainly a lot of challenges. For a start, we had to remove over 200 truck loads of bedrock from the two buildings, just to get the ground levels correct," says the architect Joe Thompson of Italian Property Restoration, whose team came across a WWII ammunition stash during the renovation process.
An olive grove on the premises produces over 100 liters of olive oil a year and the owners are currently adding another 65 trees to the current stand of 100. The property is situated within walking distance of the center of the medieval town of Cortona and is not far from where Mayes has a 200-year-old house known as Bramasole. Mayes splits her time between Italy and North Carolina and is a founder of the music-and-arts Tuscan Sun Festival. Cortona is located in Tuscany's Arezzo province about 100 kilometers southeast of Florence.
The listing is held by Michele Blackmon of Rodeo Realty Fine Estates. Blackmon, who is based in Beverly Hills, began selling properties in Tuscany after the movie was released. "When the movie came out, at least 10 of my clients in Hollywood, celebrities and directors, called me and wanted to buy in Tuscany," she says. "I had never been there and went there and hung out for a month and found some properties for them. I started going twice a year." She met the Clines a few weeks ago by chance at a party in Cortona. "The owners are renovating another property up the hillside from there," she adds. "They got hooked on the renovation of historical properties."
The estate, which can sleep 18, has also been available as a vacation rental.
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