Over the centuries, many of the medieval abbeys scattered among the ancient
villages of Provence have been transformed into fine country homes. The estate known as Pierredon, a
former Cistercian abbey founded in 1205, is just one such example of adaptation and survival.
Today the well-preserved chapel is nearly all that remains of the original Abbaye Sainte-Marie de
Pierredon, although the eight-bedroom house was constructed on early foundations in about 1602. This
magical preserve of 1,600 acres of forest, vineyards, goat pastures and beehives is hidden in a secret
valley. After a two-mile drive along a dusty country road that passes through fields of lavender, one sees
the top of a bell tower and comes to an allée of majestic old plane trees that leads to the chapel walls.
“For us, this project was quite an achievement,” says the Italian owner, Lorenzo Pellicioli. He and his
wife, Mariarosa, had vacationed in the region for years and decided that their dream retreat would be
a vineyard near the sea. “The idea was to plan ahead for retirement, allowing time for the vines and an
organic farm to mature,” he says. “We didn’t find anything we liked at the coast, so we decided to look
inland. We saw Chateau Miraval, which was later bought by Brad Pitt, but then we came to Pierredon.
Although it was miles from the sea, Mariarosa said to me, ‘This is it.’ Two days later, we made an offer.”
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