We are in 2015. Spring’s first flowers are bursting with colour. Marleen and Luc Van Marcke, seasoned explorers of Tuscany, are cruising through the secluded village of Vorno. A magnificent old villa catches their eyes. They halt the car. Without exchanging a word, they gaze at each other and smile. “This is our dream property… we simply have to purchase it!”, they think.

Shortly afterwards, the entire estate and its listed properties are officially theirs. They name it ‘Villa Marie’, as a fond nod to their daughter. Over the next five years – ably assisted by top Italian architects, artisans and material suppliers – the Van Marcke’s fully renovate the Villa and two adjoining properties. Elegant buildings constructed three centuries ago are tastefully updated and fitted out for the 21st-century. Enthusiasm, experience and imagination drive everything… punctuated by some blood, sweat and tears. The couple also devotes much time and energy to the rest of the estate, by substantially designing the large garden-park and other facilities.