Spain’s Medieval Find: A Pego Santuario Where One “Can Live Without Problems”
First constructed more than 200 years ago, Franc Vila’s manor house in Pego, Spain, is an irreplaceable find. Graced with palms, terraces and two medieval towers, the six-bedroom, six-bathroom, four-story home is a timeless sanctuary just 5 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea.
Fully modernized, the light-infused interiors are at once stately and comfortable. The home 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 muralla medieval–are showcased in the home, which includes four fireplaces, a wine cellar and a rooftop terrace with views to the mountains and sea.
The 883-square-meter home is accessed through either street-facing double doors inset into a wall (large cut-outs reveal the interior courtyard)–or a carport that accommodates three vehicles.
“It’s been my santuario,” says Franc Vila, an accomplished watchmaker who purchased the property 15 years ago. His artisanal timepieces are sought after internationally, selling from about €130,000 to nearly €400,000.
After buying the home, Vila promptly gave it a €400,000 renovation, including revamping floors, ceilings, walls and adding new windows, along with electrical, heating and cooling systems. An earlier 20th century renovation included combining three existing houses into one.
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“I love antiquities–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’s quite difficult to find a house with origins in the 13th century, and impossible to recreate. The Arabs were here of course, but even the Romans were here.”
Windows and arches throughout the home reflect deep history–the nearly 800 years that medieval Muslims ruled over Spain and Portugal. Moorish arches and windows rise above terra-cotta tile flooring. At nearly every turn there’s access to an outdoor terrace, lending the property a breezy unbuttoned feel.
Indeed, living in Pego is an al fresco experience given that coastal Spain possesses a rare Mediterranean climate, one of only five in the world. Additionally, Pego (population 10,000+) is protected on three sides by mountains, and it’s open to the Mediterranean Sea; the town is ideally situated in the province of Alicante. Pego is a one-hour drive from either Valencia or Alicante, each with major airports.
The property’s ground floor is easily navigated between a lounge with a fireplace, a kitchen with a central island and two dining rooms, formal and informal–all connecting to leafy courtyard areas with total privacy. “We use it as a summer salon at night,” Vila says of the outdoor spaces. The floor also includes two bedrooms and a bathroom, ideal for either guests or private staff.
Ceilings are 4-meters high, many with beams and a Catalan-vault design, lending further distinction.
Rise no farther within the home’s other three stories via a marble staircase and, already, the property’s entertainment possibilities are considerable. “On the first floor you can have 100 guests,” says Vila, who was born in Valencia. “The biggest sitting dinner we’ve had was 30 people on the terrace, without any problem. And on the back you have a patio, also for dinner if you want.”
The second floor has three bedrooms; two are ensuite with Juliet balconies.
The third floor is set with a comfortable living room and fireplace, along with an ensuite guest bedroom and an office/study.
The top level has two additional bedrooms with a guest bathroom and a claraboya set into the floor before one of the windows. The skylight, built with safety glass, permits foot traffic and allows ample light and views to the floor below.
The home’s pine wood, from doors to cabinetry, dates to between 1880-1930 and hails from the American port of Mobile, Alabama. The Gulf of Mexico port was a global trade powerhouse in the early 20th century, shipping natural resources to the crowns of Europe.
Vila has filled his home with 500 works of art, including renowned Spanish and French painters.
The adjacent San Lorenzo chapel once belonged to the house, but was donated to the church in the 19th century. Doors from the property still lead to the chapel.
The roof terrace, with views of the medieval town and anchored by the home’s own 13th century towers, provides additional entertainment options–along with the home’s wine cellar. Pego originally had 16 medieval towers; the home’s pair are the only that have remained intact.
Located at the bottom of one of the towers, beneath the first floor, the cave-like wine cellar is temperature-constant. It can accommodate hundreds of bottles amid its rugged stone and brick walls. The two chambers are perfect for hosting small gatherings. Ceilings were constructed using the bóveda catalana technique, as are other ceilings in the home.
With the home’s abundance of spacious rooms and bedrooms, Vila has drawn up renovation plans a future owner could use to convert the property into an eight-bedroom (all ensuite), boutique hotel.
The property is ideally located for such an enterprise. “A lot of people come here in the summer for the beach, and also for golf, which is year-round,” says Vila, adding that there are 20 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Pego.
The beach near the town lies at the northern end of the famed 200 kilometer Costa Blanca, which is strung with stunning coves and charming coastal villages. “We have a kind of Miami Beach here,” Vila says. “Twenty kilometers of flat sand–very good.” The resort town of Dénia is a 15-minute drive away.
“In the summer, the house is very very cool–we use the air conditioning only once or twice per summer,” Vila says. “Normally, the windows are open and you have the breeze coming in from the sea. Everyone who arrives says the house has a kind of spiritual peace–positive energy. It’s the place where I’ve been free to create, a place where you can live without problems. Pego and this home–it’s always a paradise.”
Among festivals and street parties, Pego is famed for passionately celebrating Carnival, including a wacky race–Baixada del Riu Bullent–consisting of costumed locals paddling homemade rafts down a river.
Vila says the townspeople are “really open, they welcome everyone like they were born here. I know everyone in the restaurants.” Pego has three Michelin restaurants–two one-star and one three-star–with numerous others within an easy drive.
In winter, Vila lights fireplaces on the first floor, or he reads in the bibliotheca on the top floor where “you have direct sun in winter, which is very nice.” He listens to music in a salon he created in one of the towers and, given the home’s excellent acoustics, music he plays on the first floor can be heard clearly throughout the house “even though I don’t have top speakers,” he says.
“I play Bach,” he continues. “Why would you play anything else? People in this little town think there’s a pianist living here. They tell me, ‘Ah, you’re playing very well, we love your music.’ And when I go out to dinner, I leave the music on so when I return, the music welcomes me. That and siestas on the first floor as the music plays–it’s an amazing moment, a wonderful thing.”
Victoria Kabisova of Inmobiliaria Rimontgo has the listing. The asking price is €1 million.
Inmobiliaria Rimontgo is an exclusive member of Forbes Global Properties, a consumer marketplace and membership network of elite brokerages selling the world’s most luxurious homes.