Nestled within the sprawling Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the 11th-century Marco Simone Castle stands as a timeless symbol of Italy's rich history. As the world eagerly awaits the Ryder Cup, the castle, which shares its name with the golf course, offers a glimpse into the past while hosting this prestigious event. While the castle itself remains a private residence, it provides a majestic backdrop to the tournament, offering spectators a taste of Italy's historical heritage.
Owned by fashion designer Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, the castle has been in her family's possession since 1978. To complement this historic gem, her parents decided to create the surrounding golf course, which recently underwent a $12 million renovation to prepare for the Ryder Cup. While maintaining a thousand-year-old castle is a constant endeavor, Biagiotti Cigna views her role as a guardian rather than an owner, emphasizing the importance of preserving its layers of history.
The Marco Simone Castle boasts approximately 50 rooms, many adorned with Renaissance-era frescoes. It derived its name from Simone dei Tebaldi, a 15th-century owner who oversaw an extensive restoration after centuries of invasions. The castle's historical significance is underscored by its former resident, the renowned astronomer Galileo Galilei, and the presence of prehistoric fossils dating back 300,000 years in the dungeon.
One room holds immense sentimental value for Biagiotti Cigna—the second-floor office, where her mother, Delia, originally founded the family's fashion house. Delia started as a dressmaker in the 1960s and went on to design the uniforms for Alitalia's cabin crew in 1964. Later, her daughter, Laura Biagiotti, further expanded the brand into an international fashion powerhouse, making her mark as a pioneering Italian designer. Today, Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna continues this remarkable legacy as the third generation of her family in the fashion industry.
Intriguingly, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club features a female superintendent, Lara Arias, a 33-year-old Spaniard who is breaking gender barriers in the golf world. This aligns with the Renaissance spirit that Biagiotti Cigna feels the Ryder Cup embodies, rejuvenating the club's historic ambiance.
Despite the challenges that arose during the preparations for the Ryder Cup, including delays caused by the pandemic and a change in captaincy, Biagiotti Cigna is proud to host this prestigious event. Alongside her duties at the golf club, she manages her family's fashion house, Laura Biagiotti, which continues to produce women's fashion, accessories, home collections, kids' collections, and fragrances.
In addition to the castle and the golf course, Biagiotti Cigna has also overseen the restoration of a first-century Roman villa adjacent to the 10th hole. The villa, discovered during the original course's construction, boasts stunning mosaics and offers a unique glimpse into the lives of those who lived there 2,000 years ago.
While the castle and fashion house remain closed to the public during the Ryder Cup due to logistical challenges, they will welcome visitors in the future. Biagiotti Cigna envisions Marco Simone as a place where visitors can savor a blend of golf, culture, fashion, food, and archaeology—an invitation to embrace a new experience and explore Italy's rich tapestry of history and innovation.