Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room and My New Pinterest Obsession

Laurel Perry's picture

I have a new obsession with Pinterest. It’s a travel photographer's dream!

It’s not what you think. My obsession is actually finding the places I discover on Pinterest.

Pin & Seek- Castello di Sammezzano- outside. Peacock Room: Inside

Castello di Sammezzano

When I first saw photos of a place called the Peacock Room, I decided to create a little game I call Pin & Seek.

It all started with a single photo that I saw of this mesmerizing, polychromatic room. It was simply entitled, “The Peacock Room”. It was gorgeous, stunning - an architectural wonder! It looked like a mosque of Moroccan design, but the photo stated it was in Tuscany.

What? Tuscany? It wasn’t like anything I had ever imagined to be in Tuscany. When I was on pinterest a few days later and saw the same photo, I knew I had to find it.

Game on!

I got online and started looking up “Peacock room, Tuscany.” I found plenty of photos, but very little concrete information on its exact location.

I discovered the name of the place that houses this room, Castello di Sammezzano in Reggello, Tuscany, Italy. That seemed like a good start. I found a page on Wikipedia, but it was all in Italian. My Italian is not proficient enough to understand everything clearly, so I continued searching. I was finally able to find the actual website of the place itself. Again, it was all in Italian.

It was time to pass everything I had found over to Tommaso, my Tuscan partner, who had also never heard of the Peacock Room. We checked the contact page on the site and found just an email, no number. We dug deeper, and eventually found a phone number. We left messages, but no one returned our calls.

I was determined to see this place!

Against Tommaso’s better judgement, and in spite of his lack of desire for a wild goose chase on his Saturday off, we prepared for our adventure.

We looked at the map from the Castello di Sammezzano site and wrote down what we could get from its spare information. I grabbed my camera and we packed the car with the three kids and a typical Tuscan lunch: prosciutto and cheese panini, fresh fruit, and water from our local spring.

The castle was originally built in 1605 and actually housed kings. After going through many residents and renovations, it was abandoned in the late 1990s after being used as a luxury hotel. It is surrounded by almost 500 acres of lush forest, including Sequoia trees - and I figured that if we couldn’t get in, at the very least we could go for a picnic in a beautiful place. My daughter’s name is Sequoia, and she had yet to see one of these majestic trees in person. She could finally get the chance! I had no idea these trees were even in Tuscany!

Wild goose chase… commenced!

We drove to the city of Reggallo, hoping to see signs. There was only one small sign that just confused us even more. Always up for asking for directions, Tommaso rolled down the window and inquired the geared-up cyclist riding alongside our car. I love Italians! Had I known what would happen in this moment, I would have had my camera ready. The kids and I were trying to hold back our laughter as Tommaso drove and the cyclist told us which way to go - without even breaking his pace!

We continued as directed, and still couldn’t find our castle. Pulling into a church parking lot, we thought we might be close. Tommaso walked over to a priest and ask him if he had any information. The priest gave us directions, but informed us that they had done tours the couple of months prior to our arrival, and he was pretty sure they were closed for the summer....which I thought odd, being that summer is high season in Italy.

Driving on, we eventually decided to pull over and ask a man working in his garden. The man told us the only way to visit was with a reservation, however, there was a back way to get on the grounds, where the locals frequently hike.

I convinced Tommaso that we should go for it.

We had to see the Sequoia trees.

The kids were getting restless and wanted to know what was going on. Why was I wanting to go through all of this trouble for a photo I found on the internet? Quite reluctantly, everyone agreed to continue on.

At this point, I had no doubt in my mind that we were going to see something spectacular. I’m fairly sure I was the only one that thought this. We had come so far, and frankly, I was rather enjoying the adventure. I could feel the excitement building, knowing we were one step closer.

We arrived to the gravel road. I looked ahead and saw a metal bar blocking the way ahead of us. There was a small space on the side that looked as if it was for parking. We parked the car and walked over to the gate. It was locked. Discussing what to do next, we went back over to the kids, who were impatiently waiting. Feeling a little defeated, I suggested we grab our food and hike down the road past the gate. It was a hot day and no one was terribly enthusiastic about a blind hike.

Just as we were getting everyone out, a car drove up and the driver stepped out and unlocked the gate.

“Run!” I yelled to Tommaso. “Go see if we can get in! Hurry, she’s getting back in her car!”

Tommaso ran toward her and a few moments later he was telling us to grab our things and that she was going to drive us in.

I knew it!

We got the kids and our bags and climbed into her small car. Tommaso sat in the front, while the kids and I squeezed in the back, my littlest one on my lap.

We rode about 2-3 kilometers until we arrived at the end of the road. Tommaso had been chatting in Italian with the woman along the drive, and was interpreting the conversation for us.

It seems there was going to be a tour group arriving soon and she was meeting a couple of her friends that wanted to join in. I never really understood what her association was with the castle, but she had the keys...and that’s what mattered! She told us it would be no problem to follow along with the group.

We got out of the car and she led us up the path.

I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see.

What lay before us was the most exquisite home - and like nothing I had ever seen before. The architecture, a Moroccan style with a bit of Renaissance and old English flair, left us speechless.

Of course, the first thing I did was grab my camera. Oozing with excitement over this travel photographer’s dream opportunity, I lined up my shot and pressed the release.

Nothing happened.

I thought I must have left the power off. No, that wasn’t it. I tried again, and again, and again. Each time it came up with an error message. WHAT? NO! This was not happening!

After playing with it for what seemed an eternity, I deduced that it was my flash card. I hadn’t brought my camera bag, just the camera, so I had no back-up. In a panic, tears welling up in my eyes, I searched for my iPhone. I quickly remembered that I decided to leave it at home that day.

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I looked over and saw my daughter taking pictures with an old iPhone I had passed down to her a couple of years ago. I prayed it had a full battery. I saw the battery was at 82%. It was all I had - it would have to do. With hesitation, she relinquished it over to me.

So, here it is.

After my first game of Pin & Seek, I bring you my collection of 2009 iPhone 3GS, 3 megapixel camera photographs (with a little help from Photoshop) of Castello Sammezzanno in Tuscany, Italy. There is no electricity in the abandoned domicile, so the low light proved a true test of my photographic ability with such limited equipment. I think I did ok with what I had. What do you think?

Pin & Seek: Castello di Sammezzano - I found it!
Pin & Seek: Castello di Sammezzano - I found it!

Each room with its own exquisite palette.

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany, and My New Pinterest Obsession

Filled with the calm of the natural light.

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

After touring the castle, we followed everyone outside for a tour of the grounds. About an hour into the hike, we decided to separate from the group.

I had a little girl with a personal mission of her own to be completed on this adventure.

She did it.

Sequoia found her Sequoia.

This is the aptly named Twin Sequoia

With a 9 meter circumference and a height of 46 meters, it is the tallest tree in Tuscany.

This was the last photo I took before the battery died.

Sequoia at the Seqouias. In Tuscany. From Pin & Seek: The Peacock Room in Tuscany and My New Pinterest Obsession

You can find even more beautiful photos of Castello di Sammezzano, a true hidden gem of Tuscany, here.



Laurel Perry is an Italy Expert. She shares her passion, tips, and Italy secrets with travelers through her work as a Family Travel Consultant, Italy and Luxury Travel Specialist with Ciao Bambino


All photos courtesy and copyright Laurel Perry