First built more than 200 years ago, Franc Vila’s manor house in pego, Spain, is an irreplaceable find. Adorned with palm trees, terraces and two medieval towers, the four-story, six-bedroom, six-bathroom home is a timeless sanctuary just 5 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea.
Fully modernized, the bright interiors are both majestic and comfortable. The house is an unassuming citadel, an apt description given that the property began as a military fort in 1287. Exposed 13th-century walls: a 30-meter tower medieval wall–are displayed in the house, which includes four fireplaces, a wine cellar and a rooftop terrace with views of the mountains and the sea.
The 9,000-square-foot home is accessed through street-facing double doors set into a wall (large cutouts reveal the interior patio), or through a garage with capacity for three vehicles.
“It has been my sanctuary“says Franc Vila, a accomplished watchmaker who bought the property 15 years ago. His handmade watches They are sought after internationally and sell for between 130,000 and almost 400,000 euros.
After purchasing the house, Vila quickly renovated it for 400,000 euros, including renovating the floors, ceilings, walls and adding new windows, as well as electrical, heating and cooling systems. An earlier 20th century renovation included combining three existing houses into one.
“I love antiques, all the masters, and I love houses with character and history,” says Vila, who now spends much of his time in Geneva. “For me, this house was perfect: it is quite difficult to find a house with origins in the 13th century and impossible to recreate. The Arabs were here, of course, but the Romans were also here.”
The windows and arches throughout the house reflect a deep history: the nearly 800 years that medieval Muslims ruled Spain and Portugal. Moorish arches and windows rise above the terracotta tiled floor. Almost every corner has access to an outdoor terrace, giving the property a cheerful, unbuttoned feel.
In fact, living in Pego is an outdoor experience given that the coast of Spain has a rare Mediterranean climate, one of only five in the world. Additionally, Pego (population over 10,000) is protected on three sides by mountains and is open to the Mediterranean Sea; The city is ideally located in the province of Alicante. Pego is an hour’s drive from Valencia or Alicante, each with major airports.
The ground floor of the property is easily navigated between a living room with fireplace, a kitchen with central island and two dining rooms, formal and informal, all connected to leafy patio areas with complete privacy. “We use it as a summer lounge at night.” Vila says of the outdoor spaces. The apartment also includes two bedrooms and a bathroom, ideal for both guests and private staff.
The ceilings are 4 meters high, many of them with beams and a Catalan vault design, which provides greater distinction.
If you don’t rise higher into the home’s other three floors via a marble staircase, the property’s entertaining possibilities are already considerable. “On the first floor you can have 100 guests,” says Vila, who was born in Valencia. “The largest dinner we have had was 30 people on the terrace, without any problem. And in the back you have a patio, also for dining if you want.”
The second floor has three bedrooms; two have private bathrooms with Juliet balconies.
The third floor features a comfortable living room and fireplace, plus a guest bedroom with bathroom and an office/study.
The upper level has two additional bedrooms with guest bathrooms and a skylight placed on the floor in front of one of the windows. The skylight, constructed of safety glass, allows pedestrian traffic and allows for abundant light and views to the floor below.
The pine wood in the house, from the doors to the cabinets, dates from between 1880 and 1930 and comes from the US port of Mobile, Alabama. The Gulf of Mexico port was a global trading power in the early 20th century, shipping natural resources to the crowns of Europe.
Vila has filled his house with 500 works of art, including by renowned Spanish and French painters.
The adjacent chapel of San Lorenzo belonged to the house, but was donated to the church in the 19th century. The gates of the property still lead to the chapel.
The rooftop terrace, overlooking the medieval city and anchored by the house’s 13th-century towers, offers additional entertainment options, along with the house’s wine cellar. Pego originally had 16 medieval towers; The two in the house are the only ones that have remained intact.
Located at the bottom of one of the towers, below the first floor, the cave-shaped cellar has a constant temperature. It holds hundreds of bottles within its steep stone and brick walls. The two chambers are perfect for hosting small meetings. The roofs were built using the Catalan vault technique, like other roofs of the house.
With the home’s abundance of spacious rooms and bedrooms, Vila has drawn up renovation plans that a future owner could use to turn the property into an eight-room boutique hotel (all with private bathrooms).
The property has an ideal location for a company of this type. “Many people come here in the summer to go to the beach and also to play golf, which is available all year round,” says Vila, adding that there are 20 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Pego.
The beach near the town is located at the northern end of the famous 200 kilometer Costa Blanca, full of stunning coves and charming coastal towns. “Here we have a kind of Miami Beach,” says Vila. “Twenty kilometers of flat sand, very good.” The tourist town of Dénia is 15 minutes away by car.
“In summer, the house is very cool; we use the air conditioning only once or twice a summer,” says Vila. “Normally the windows are open and the sea breeze comes in. Everyone who arrives says that the house has a kind of spiritual peace: positive energy. It is the place where I have had freedom to create, a place where you can live without problems. “Pego and this house are always a paradise.”
Between festivals and street parties, Pego is famous for passionately celebrating Carnival, including a crazy race:Baixada del Riu Bullent–which consists of costumed locals rowing homemade rafts down the river.
Vila says that the people of the town are “very open, they welcome everyone as if they were born here. “I know everyone in the restaurants.” Pego has three Michelin restaurants, two one-star and one three-star, with many others within a short drive.
In winter, Vila lights the fireplaces on the first floor or reads in the library on the top floor where “you have direct sun in winter, which is very nice.” He listens to music in a lounge he created in one of the towers, and given the house’s excellent acoustics, the music he plays on the first floor can be heard clearly throughout the house, “although I don’t have the best speakers,” he says. .
“I play Bach,” he continues. “Why would you play anything else? The people of this small town believe that a pianist lives here. They tell me: ‘Ah, you’re playing very well, we love your music.’ And when I go out to dinner, he leaves the music on so that when he comes back the music welcomes me. That and the naps on the first floor while the music plays: it’s an incredible moment, something wonderful.”
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