words by Gabi Logan
Helen Mirren's 500-year-old vacation home near Lecce, Puglia, lies at the centre of a local council investigation launched in late March. Dame Mirren's neighbor, Anna De Giovanni, lodged an official complaint when the Tiggiano council refused to give her copies of plans for renovations to the home.
When Dame Helen and her husband Taylor Hackford bought the Le Matine estate five years ago for £300,000, it was run-down and uninhabitable. The couple has invested nearly the same amount to restore the property to its former regal state and add eco-friendly features like solar-powered heat and hot water.
Formerly the home of a prince, the estate features a dungeon and a fully functional olive orchard within its turreted walls. A sizable sum went toward renovating the wall along the border with De Giovanni's property, causing the current dispute.
De Giovanni requested the building plans for all of the renovations on Dame Mirren's estate, not onlythe shared wall, from the local council. The council provided plans for the wall, but insisted that she did not have the right to see the other plans. Ms. De Giovanni filed a complaint with the local prosecutor that the council failed to hand over the proper official documents.
Piero Nuccio, Dame Helen's lawyer, told the Telegraph that he's "sure the prosecutor will see that this is a complete waste of time and eventually drop the case". Now that the investigation is open, Dame Helen will have to testify in front of the prosecutor in Lecce. It's probably not the Italian castle fairytale she had in mind.