Scandalous past of the villa that hosted Succession's Tuscan wedding
Scandalous past of the sumptuous villa that hosted Succession’s Tuscan wedding: Villa Cetinale was built for a pope, beloved by rock stars and home to a Conservative MP caught in bed with two women smoking pot
- Villa Cetinale was chosen by producers of Succession as a filming location
- In the show, the Roy family fly to Tuscany for a wedding which is held at the villa
- The villa was once home of Antony Lambton who resigned government in 1973
How very apt. Producers of the hit TV series Succession, about a mega-rich, feuding media family, have chosen to film in a sumptuous Italian villa with a scandalous history.
Not only is it in the land of the Borgias – a family who are a byword for sin and immorality – but the property itself was home to a Tory politician whose shocking affair with a vice girl almost brought down Edward Heath’s government.
What’s more, his death triggered an internecine family feud as rancorous as anything seen in Succession, involving three bitter sisters going to court over an inheritance battle with their brother, whose third wife’s sister is a close friend of the Duchess of Cambridge.
Villa Cetinale, which can be hired for around £50,000 a week, is described in Conde Nast Traveller as Tuscany’s ‘ultimate party place’.
How very apt. Producers of the hit TV series Succession, about a mega-rich, feuding media family, have chosen to film in sumptuous Italian villa with a scandalous history – Villa Cetinale
It was used in the concluding episodes of the current series of Succession, which ends tomorrow on Sky Atlantic.
Members of the super-rich Roy family fly from America, where their media empire is based, for the wedding of the ageing-but-ruthless boss’s former wife, Lady Caroline, to a dodgy Englishman.
Sadly, there is no mention, amid all the sniping and scheming, that Villa Cetinale was once the home of Antony Lambton who resigned from the Tory government in 1973 as Minister for the RAF after he was photographed naked in bed with two women and smoking cannabis.
He was exposed when the husband of one of the women, a call-girl called Norma Levy, tried to sell the pictures to the News of the World. With fellow Ministers fearful of another Profumo scandal, Lord Lambton quit and subsequently told TV interviewer Robin Day that he had used ‘whores for sex’ because ‘people sometimes like variety. It’s as simple as that’.
Pictured: Succession stars Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook
He also admitted the pressure of work made him seek out prostitutes and implied that ‘the futility’ of his job as a Minister was one of the reasons he had got up to mischief (‘idle hands’).
Villa Cetinale, near Siena, is beloved of British royalty, aristocracy, models, rock stars and the kind of politicians who love to consort with them. The guestbook includes Prince Charles, and Mick Jagger.
For the £50,000 rental – with a dedicated staff of chefs, cleaners and waiters to cater to your every need, apart from food and drink which are extra – you have access to 13 bedrooms, swimming pools, gardens, secret grottos, chapels and extensive woods.
The villa was built in 1680 for Pope Alexander VII. According to the property’s website, its history has a dark side. The English traveller Joseph Forsyth wrote in 1800: ‘Cetinale owes its rise and celebrity to the remorse of an amorous cardinal who, to appease the ghost of a murdered rival, transformed a gloomy oak plantation into a penitential retreat, and acted there, all the austerities of an Egyptian hermit.’
CALL-GIRL: Norma Levy, who was pictured in bed with Lord Lambton
Reaching the retreat requires going up 200 steps – the Santa Scala (Holy Stairs). Legend has it Pope Alexander VII ordered the cardinal to climb them on his hands and knees.
Today, it’s owned by Lord Lambton’s 60-year-old son Edward (Ned) Lambton, the 7th Earl of Durham. The Old Etonian was the lead singer in a short-lived pop band called the Frozen Turkeys.
His first wife, Christabel, went on to marry musician and TV presenter Jools Holland and his second wife Catherine Fitzgerald is now with actor Dominic West.
Lord Lambton originally approached his third wife, Marina, a model 22 years his junior, by sending her a Facebook message declaring: ‘I know I am way too old for you but I love you.’ They were married just over a year later.
Marina is the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge’s friend Rose, who is married to David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley.
NOTORIOUS: The former Lord Lambton outside the luxurious villa
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