Newspaper article International New York Times

Bringing out the Beauty of a Once-Derelict Water Mill in Italy ; Gardens and Vineyards Complete Restored Home Hidden in a Tuscan Valley

Newspaper article International New York Times

Bringing out the Beauty of a Once-Derelict Water Mill in Italy ; Gardens and Vineyards Complete Restored Home Hidden in a Tuscan Valley

Article excerpt

An Argentine-American couple spent two years restoring an abandoned water mill at the northern end of the Val d'Orcia region of Tuscany.

Talk to Ruth Infarinato, an Argentine television host, or her American husband, Chris Daniels, an advertising consultant, and they will say that their Italian heritage, hers from Sicily and his from near Naples, drew them back to Italy. In 2008, the couple purchased and then spent two years restoring an abandoned and dilapidated water mill in the Tuscany region.

What they can't explain is to which period the former mill belongs -- maybe the 13th century, perhaps later, possibly earlier if they had to guess by interpreting the building's makeshift architecture. What is certain is that they were entranced from the moment they drove down the winding roads and long gravel driveway that leads to the former mill.

"It feels like everything has come full circle," Ms. Infarinato said. "This was a project that tied us back to Italy and allowed us to do things like grow wine, and basically slow down."

Unique to the property is the heated lap pool in the basement, with an adjacent hammam and infrared sauna, all clad in soft white travertine stone. The property owners also obtained permission for construction of an outdoor pool in the future. Even with such extravagances, they wanted to stay true to the region. And as they stripped the home down to a shell, they restored its four bedrooms and baths, two studies, gym, kitchen and bar by accentuating most of its finest features.

Now the house is on the market for 5.8 million euros, or $6.5 million, which according to Diana Levins Moore of Tuscany Inside Out, an associate of the Knight Frank real estate consultancy in London, reflects the average asking price for a home of this size and degree of restoration and design embellishment. Ms. Moore, who has been selling Tuscan real estate for more than 25 years, attests that buying and renovating ancient properties in the region can be a costly challenge.

"The most sought after and expensive parts of Tuscany are Chianti and the Val d'Orcia areas," Ms. Moore said. "Here for a finished house you will probably pay around EUR 3,000 to EUR 6,000 per square meter. …

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