Finding the perfect property abroad can be exhausting even if you are famous and have plenty of money to spend. For celebrity couple Sting and Trudie Styler it was a search that took seven years.
Finding Il Palagio, their 900 acre Tuscan estate located south east of Florence, took many years after they fell in love with Italy after spending three months there around the time their daughter Coco was born, according to Styler.
‘We’d kept dreaming of finding the perfect Tuscan property. Whenever Sting toured Italy I’d go and meet him and we’d do a few days of house hunting. So one day, I cajoled Sting into the car to look at yet more houses, but nothing was right. The ceilings were too high or the walls too frescoed,’ remembered Styler.
‘With just one house left to see, we were disillusioned and ready to give up. I really was starting to believe that what we were looking for didn’t exist,’ she added.
Luckily, Knight Frank’s head of international sales Paddy Dring persuaded the couple to give Il Palagio a chance and what could have been a forgotten footnote at the end of a fruitless day looking for the perfect house turned, instead, into love at first sight.
‘As soon as we saw the property the whole mood changed. It went from let’s go home to we could actually be buying a house today. There was something really special about the atmosphere; it was very positive, very benign. I do believe that you can feel when you belong somewhere,’ she said in an article for the latest Knight Frank Wealth Report.
Il Palagio was built as a hunting lodge so the rooms are very human in scale and the couple thought it was the perfect place for a family to spend time together. It also had land which was important for the couple who are known for their eco outlook.
They regarded it as not just something to admire, but land to form a deep symbiotic relationship with, the kind of relationship that Styler believes is now largely missing from agriculture as farmers increasingly rely on artificial chemicals to boost output and yields.
Working with nature, not against it, is a key part of the couple’s spiritual outlook on life and explains why they are passionate advocates of organic farming. She and Sting were already producing a range of organic food from their 60 acre Lake House estate in Wiltshire, England, when they bought Il Palagio.
They have introduced biodynamic farming to Il Palagio where the earth is reinvigorated and cleansed with special naturally enriched and fermented composts, manures and sprays. Growing cycles are also often aligned to the moon’s phases.
Since buying the estate 13 years ago from a local Duke and gradually acquiring back some of its original land that had been sold off over the years, Styler and Sting have produced award winning virgin oil from its olive groves and garnered prizes for their honey.
This year or early 2011 will see the culmination of their biggest project yet. Around 30,000 bottles of a Super Tuscan Merlot that is shaping up well are currently maturing gently, ready to be released on to the market.
Styler believes that the wine from Il Palagio will enable more people to share its benefits and encourage others to adopt a similar approach. To be called Sister Moon, the name reflects its method of production and is also the title of one of Sting’s songs.