Idyllically located in the Gulf of Porto Ercole, the former fish factory, Cirio, is set to see a major investment by Erqole, a company of the Swedish Qarlbo AB group, with the help of Invest in Tuscany, the regional structure that partners the venture with the support of the Tuscan Region and the Municipality of Monte Argentario.
Fabriqa: a luxury tourist accommodation project in southern Tuscany
Titled Fabriqa, the project aims to create luxury tourist accommodation, renovating the industrial area that has been left abandoned for almost 40 years. A radical overhaul will see it turned into a five-star hotel, with about 50 rooms overlooking the sea, a wellness centre and a dock for mooring boats. The existing building will be demolished and reconstructed according to the shape of the former factory with attention paid to environmental sustainability, an aspect that has characterized Erqole since its foundatio
The financier of the project is Conni Jonsson, founder of Erqole SRL and president of Eqt Partners. Speaking about the project, Jonsson said, “It’s been a long journey and we’re not at the end of it yet. We are a Swedish entrepreneurial family. I grew up on a farm, the youngest of four sons, working on that farm every day until I was 18 years old. Today, I’m working as an international entrepreneur and we invest all over the world. My kids are involved in the project, so this is a family venture. The whole family fell in love with the Porto Ercole-Argentario region when we were looking for a second home about 10 years ago. We love nature, we love the sea, but on top of that, we really like the community and the friendliness and welcoming nature of the people.
“This area has huge potential,” continues Jonsson. “We have a mission and we have a dream of what this region can be developed into. We would never do something that doesn’t respect the community or that wouldn’t be appreciated by all those who will be impacted by the project. We understand the huge support given by the community. But it is complicated to develop real estate in Italy. We bought Cirio in 2016 and have been working on this mission ever since. We are long-term, we are very committed to this direction and this dream…In terms of the bigger picture, it will also inspire others from other places and hopefully lead to further investments in this beautiful country…And finally there’s one aspect that’s most important for us and that’s respect for nature. It really is absolutely one of our guiding principles in whatever we do and it’s not only environmental, it’s also social.”
Investing in Tuscany
Created in 2010, Invest in Tuscany provides solutions to those who are already in Tuscany and want to grow, and also to those who are not yet in Tuscany but are seeking to invest, providing support in terms of the required bureaucracy. Jonsson commented, “We have been working for some time with Invest in Tuscany and any difficulties that were experienced in the early days of the project have been much easier managed with their collaboration. We think there is a very strong commitment and they are providing us with great guidance and resources.”
A further investment in Porto Ercole by Jonsson saw the 60 rooms of the historic Don Pedro hotel renovated into a four-star establishment called La Roqqa that’s set to open in summer 2023.
Mayor of Monte Argentario, Francesco Borghini, stated, “We are following the procedures for the project in order to meet with the needs of the Regione Toscana and Invest in Tuscany who pinpointed this investor in the Argentario as a key to developing further investments, not only with him, but also with other investors who will take inspiration from these entrepreneurs and will want to invest in our marvellous region.”
For the regional councillor for tourism and the economy, Leonardo Marras, “This agreement is a perfect example of collaboration between institutions and individuals for the development of the territory. The Erqole project maintains the main objectives that we ourselves have set: sustainability, through the redevelopment of an existing and unused structure, and growth, with the construction of a new hospitality structure that will create jobs and strengthen what the Argentario offers tourists, and, more generally, Tuscany, by entering into high-end tourism.”
This was also underlined by the President of the Tuscany Region, Eugenio Giani. “Tourism is a natural fuel for the Tuscan economy. It’s usually worth 10 per cent of GDP and 11 per cent in terms of jobs. It’s an important sector that has been heavily affected since 2020 given the containment measures imposed due to the health emergency: a tourism that we want to be widespread and that becomes an opportunity not only for a trip, but to experience Tuscany in an authentic way.”