Machiavellian Adventure in Tuscany


When Glynn Cohen was shopping for a Tuscan estate, he wanted vineyards, beauty, history and a nearby airport.

In 2001, the globetrotting Zimbabwe-born businessman and philanthropist bought all that in Villa Mangiacane—a deteriorated estate that was the 15th-century country home of the Machiavelli family. 

Revitalizing it "has been a personal growth journey," says Cohen, 57, toned, tanned and wearing shorts and polo shirt. It's late summer when we chat, and he sits on the villa's loggia, which is decorated with Renaissance frescoes and offers views to Florence's Duomo about eight miles away. 

Cohen fell in love with Tuscany in the 1980s while doing business there with his Africa-based textiles group. He made a fortune with a sub-Saharan African trucking and logistics company that went public in the late 1990s and invested part of his earnings in Mangiacane's villa and vineyards in the town of San Casciano, between Florence and Siena. 

"After doing relatively well in business, it was a question of what to do next," says Cohen, who became Mangiacane's fifth owner. 

"When I arrived," he says, "the place was a ruin." During World War II, the villa served as a German military command and later as an Allied hospital. The owner prior to Cohen cared little for aesthetics and sold wine from the Chianti Classico vineyards in bulk along with tomatoes from a roadside farmstand.

"He white-washed over the original frescoes." Cohen shakes his head. "He was raising the full blog (free) at