The Italian Almanac
The entire Tuscan village of Tenuta de Castelfalfi has been snapped up by the giant tour operator TUI and is due to be turned into an integrated holiday playground for German tourists within the next two years. In a move which would no doubt make the Tuscany-loving author EM Forster turn in his grave, the exquisitely beautiful but rundown medieval settlement north of Siena, and close to Florence and Pisa is soon to be renamed Toscana Resort Castelfalfi.
"The Germans have conquered our village!" declared the local paper, Il Tirreno, following news of the sale. Complete with four square miles of land, a three-star hotel, 18-hole golf course, olive groves, vineyards and scores of elegantly crumbling villas, Castelfalfi is believed to have been bought for €250m. Everything from the historic castello that gives the village its name and perches above it on a rocky peak, to its old ramparts, houses and gardens, were part of the deal. Only the church was out of bounds, but the company is obliged to pay for it to be renovated.
The concept involves creating a self-contained "holiday world" within Castelfalfi's historic walls, including restaurants, boutiques, spas, an all-inclusive hotel and an enlarged golf course. Once it has been given a makeover, Castelfalfi is expected to attract 3,200 guests at any one time and will give the first whiff of mass tourism in a region that attracts holidaymakers precisely because of its small-scale family-run hotels.
It is unclear how Germany's own "Toscana Faction" - the class of politicians and intellectuals who frequent the region - will respond to the idea of their quiet holiday paradise potentially being overrun by hordes of their compatriots.