A female role model

RESTORATION: A new year, new opportunities. 17 years ago, Charlotte Horton left the UK for Italy, where she’s devoted her time to restoring Potentino castle. We meet to discuss the ecological attitude to life, local traditions, democracy and micro-politics.
Truls Lie
Editor-in-chief, Modern Times Review
Published date: March 5, 2018

Visiting great castles in Italy isn’t exactly an everyday affair for Modern Times. So why travel all the way to Tuscany, with a cameraman in tow, to interview the woman who’s restored the Castella di Potentino?

Castello di Potentino

We’re seated in the private wing of the castle, where at least five metres separates the ceiling above us from the enormous stone floor under our feet. Our conversation is accompanied by the snoring of a giant dog lying on the neighbouring couch. I try to get an understanding of what prompted Charlotte Horton to take on the restoration of what, 17 years ago, was a complete ruin, rather than continuing her modern life in London. She had worked at Vogue Magazine and at Warburg Publishing House; she was, in other words, a well-established figure on London’s cultural scene.

By way of an answer, Horton cites her background as a roaming journalist. She bought the 3000-years old ruins of the castle by persuading the 20 families who collectively made up the heirs. “Nobody really knew what I was up to, especially because I was a woman, and so they couldn’t stop me.”

Horton wanted to create a winery. “I was already making wines that were winning awards. There are many creative, dynamic women involved in winemaking, but only up to a certain level; over this you’ll find the men controlling the market. But surely the wine that was drunk by the wine god Bacchus was made by a woman? Many seem to think that the concept of being a strong woman is a modern one. And unfortunately, too many women are still worrying too much about getting married. It’s something that both Meryl Streep and I’ve had enough of.”

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