Detailed villa description
Inside: Forte San Giorgio is a multi-dimensional 16th-century fortress whose accommodation is spread over a series of separate wings on multiple levels.
From the car park, one may climb the original stone steps or take the lift up to an open space known as the Piazzetta. This is the epicentre of the fortress from which one might directly access three of the property’s distinct sections: the Sant’Antonio wing, the dining wing, and the central wing. The ground floor of the first is home to the Sala Sant'Antonio, a beautifully furnished, luminous living area, featuring frescoes, polished plaster walls, and Venetian briccole (woodblock) floors, and three bedrooms: a twin with en-suite bathroom with separate tub and shower; and two doubles – one of which is very spacious - with en-suite shower rooms. On the first floor, meanwhile, is an apartment, Maestrale, comprising three generously-proportioned bedrooms (a double with en-suite shower room, a second double with en-suite bathroom with feature tub, and a double-twin with en-suite shower room), a large sitting room-cum-kitchen-dining space, a guest WC, and a private terrace offering stunning views over the town and port.
The dining wing comprises a long, light-filled space featuring a series of arches, lofty ceilings and a table that can happily accommodate over 30 guests. Banks of doors on either side open out onto two panoramic al fresco dining terraces.
The third, central wing accessed from the Piazzetta is on three floors. Much of the ground floor is given over to an inspiring kitchen, designed in collaboration with Michelin-starred Chef Riccardo De Pra. This is not just a place where your chef will prepare your meals, but a communal space where you can cook or be cooked for whilst enjoying a glass of wine in good company. Stairs lead down from near the kitchen to the excavated remains of the old Church of Capraia beneath the Sala Sant'Antonio. This fascinating space is crowded with historical detail, including ancient pillars and vaults, a stone altar, and what is left of the mediaeval wall of the Pisan fortress. It is the ideal space for Forte San Giorgio’s multi-purpose entertainment area, which includes a games room with a pool table, table football and table tennis), a bar and a cinema room. Back on the ground floor, stairs lead up to the first floor and an apartment named Libeccio, comprising two bedrooms (a double with fabulous views over the port, and a twin with truckle bed, suitable for children), and a shared shower room. Libeccio also boasts a large living and dining space with TV, a kitchen corner, and direct access to a large panoramic terrace. On the second floor of this wing, meanwhile, is suite Elba, home to a double bedroom with feature tub, an en-suite shower room, a sitting room with TV, and a private terrace offering unique views of the fort and sea.
A walkway leads around one side of the Sant’Antonio wing to the Salina wing. Its ground floor is given over to a communal lounge area with bar and kitchen serving the Tramontana pool area (the first of two pool areas), while the first floor houses two bedrooms (a double and a single) sharing a panoramic terrace, and two shower rooms. The Salina wing also provides access to the entertainment area below the Sala Sant’Antonio.
Outside: Forte San Giorgio’s numerous al fresco areas flow over several different levels and are connected by an array of walkways, paths, ramparts, little bridges and flights of steps. Getting your bearings is a fascinating experience and you will most likely still be making discoveries as your stay draws to an end. We’ll start our tour at the dining wing, which is flanked by two al fresco dining areas. The first, west-facing, is for breakfast, while the second, east-facing, is for long convivial dinners under the stars. Crossing the Piazzetta, we move round the Sant'Antonio wing to the Terrazza Tramontana at the northernmost part of the fortress. Also known as the Sunset Terrace, the Terrazza Tramontana serves the first of the two swimming pools and comes with a bar (on the ground floor of the Salina wing) and delightful views over the lighthouse and the port. During the day, it’s a light-filled spot in which to relax, while in the evening it’s the perfect place for an aperitivo as the sun melts behind the island’s hills. Pride of place is given to the stainless steel and glass infinity pool, which features a hydromassage area. Continuing our clockwise tour, we come to the Cortile Centrale, the social hub of the fortress, located to one side of (and accessed from) the Sant’Antonio wing. Surrounded by ancient arches and majestic walls, and with a window offering breathtaking views over the sea, the Cortile Centrale is a sheltered and shady open-air summer room, a place in which to gather, chat or relax with a book.
Steps lead up from near the Cortile Centrale to the ramparts, which in turn climb up past viewing turrets to the highest part of the fortress (around 100m above the sea): here we find the second swimming pool, known as the Piscina della Torre. This stainless steel pool is a remarkable piece of design and engineering and includes a shallow beach-effect area suitable for young children, a hydromassage corner, and an infinity edge from where spectacularly commanding views take in vast swathes of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Italian mainland, and the islands of Elba and Monte Cristo.
An important part of the restoration of Forte San Giorgio was the creation of four Mediterranean gardens, each designed to be ecologically sustainable, drought tolerant, and reflective of Capraia’s unique eco-system. Plants were chosen not only for their beauty, but also for their attractiveness to the local honeybee population and, where the kitchen garden is concerned, for their culinary utility. The panoramic lawned areas, meanwhile, are perfect for a meditative stroll, a spot of yoga or some fun and games with the kids.
Last but not least… directly below the castle, a private path winds down the cliffs to the sea below, where rocky bathing areas give way to the pristine, translucent waters that surround Capraia.
Ecological credentials: Forte San Giorgio has a great many eco-friendly attributes, including the following:
- LED lighting throughout (reducing electricity consumption by 80%)
- the property's water supply is filtered and treated (reducing the need to transport mineral water and minimising plastic waste)
- glass bottles are used wherever possible, further reducing plastic waste
- all laundry is done using water (no dry cleaning) and dried in natural conditions
- rain water is collected to irrigate the gardens in the summer
- the property's herb garden provides 0km produce for the kitchens, while many other ingredients (including fish, vegetables, wine, honey, goats cheese, and others) are sourced directly from artisan suppliers and producers on the island
The island of Capraia is an eco-friendly paradise: only 3% is developed and inhabited whilst the other 97% and the surrounding sea is a national park and marine reserve. Capraia's Smart Island Project, which has won several sustainability awards, aims at creating a self-sufficient circular economy. Forte San Giorgio is supportive of this initiative and has hosted two Smart Island Project conferences.