Rime: Palagio is the very definition of a Tuscan estate. It’s a 400-year-old villa, about an hour south of Florence. But listen closely, and you might hear a rather well-known musician rehearsing.
Sting owns the place, along with his wife, Trudie Styler. And what do they love about the place? “Just about everything,” she said.
For Sting and Styler, it’s a summer house for their growing family. But you, too, can stay here – it’s available to rent for weddings and birthdays.
Even the honeybees at Il Palagio (where the chestnut groves foster the bees’ chestnut honey) are living the high life.
Sting was born Gordon Sumner in a ship-building town in Northern England. One day, in 1961, royalty arrived to christen a ship, and Sting got a glimpse of the outside world.
“I lived right next door to a shipyard. And I would think, as a kid, ‘Is this what I will do when I grow up?’ The yard was a terrifying place – noisy, dangerous. So, I had this other fantasy that I would be a musician.
“And down the street comes the Queen Mother in a big Rolls-Royce with some motorcycle outriders, and everybody’s waving their flags. And she caught my eye, or I caught her eye. And she did that royal wave that they do, and she just kept looking at me. And I must have been waving my flag really vigorously! But I thought, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever been seen!'”
As for Styler, who grew up in central England, her father expected her to become a typist. But her dream was to be on stage. “This came as a big shock to my family, because nobody in our street were actors. Most of the people in the street worked at the Ford motor factory, or they worked at the local brush works where they made paintbrushes.”
Her father gave her an ultimatum: Get a job, or leave the house. So, at age 18, young Trudie lit out for the birthplace of William Shakespeare. “Packed my tiny, little suitcase and headed towards – where else? – Stratford-upon-Avon. ‘Cause if you’re gonna be an actor, let’s go big!” she laughed.
The gamble paid off; by age 25 she had landed leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Sting was equally ambitious. With a series of worldwide hits (including “Roxanne”), he was married with two kids when he met Trudie Styler.
“It started to dawn on us, a year into getting to know each other that we sparked in a way that friends don’t spark, let’s just say,” laughed Styler.
They married 27 years ago, and after a long search found Il Palagio. “It was very dilapidated,” Sting said. “And we bought it for a song, maybe two songs, I’m not sure!”
Once the house was in order, they turned to the fields. “I’m a farmer’s daughter,” Styler said. “I love the idea of having a lot of land around that could be cultivated in some way.”
With the help of experts and locals – some who had worked the land for generations – they brought back the olive groves, the vegetable gardens, and the vineyards.
“Now you see the fruits of your labor, literally,” said correspondent Alina Cho.
“Yes,” Styler replied. “And it’s a good feeling. And the wines get better.”
The wines’ names are straight out of the Sting repertoire: Roxanne, Message in a Bottle, When We Dance. “Sexy name, sexy wine,” Sting said.
There’s wine, but then there’s work. Styler is a movie producer, director, and still acts.
Sting has recorded four albums at the villa. He has a new one coming out this week, “My Songs,” with a world tour to follow. At age 67, slowing down his tempo is not an option, even though he’s is now a grandparent.
“I’m a grandfather seven times – serial grandparents,” he said. “I never anticipated it, stupidly. Even though I’ve got six children, never thought they would have children. That’s how dumb I am!”
This summer, the family will gather once again at the villa. James the butler will show off the spread. And the 400-year-old spirit of Il Palagio will live on.
Sting said, “We’re not really the owners; we’re here to make it work, and make it better.”
Cho asked, “Are you proud of what you’ve built here?” “Hugely proud. And the locals coming said, ‘You brought this place back to life. Grazie.'”