Biography of Ilka-Maria Berghoefer

ilka

I was born in Germany in Hamburg. After the maturity at the classic high school (SC English and Art) in Hamburg, I studied law at the University of Tübingen in Germany, where I graduated in 1988. Having passed the second state examination in Stuttgart / Germany in 1991 I became a fully qualified legal councillor and lawyer with the admission to advocacy at the regional supreme court of Hamburg / Germany, valid throughout Germany and in Italy / Europe.
At first as junior lawyer in Rottweil and in Rome / Italy
in a renowned law firm, then fully professionally active
in Stuttgart, Berlin and Hamburg I worked for many years in the field of economic, banking, real estate, insurance, and in particular contract and construction law.

In order to work at the international level, I studied in
the summers of 1988 and 1991 in Siena and placed
my diploma in Italian language. In 1997, I added the study of French in Antibes, Nice and Vichy in France by completing the Diplomas D.E.L.F. and Alliance Française 1° and 2° degree.

Even then I fell in love with Tuscany and I had the dream to live and work here. The very special light of Tuscany, the picturesque landscape of snow-capped mountains and the coast with its Mediterranean flair, with magnificent cities of art, architecture and history, but also the naturalness and the humour of the people with their unique way of life fascinated me from the beginning.

During my work as a lawyer in Berlin, where I was involved with a lot of real estate and construction law, I came up with the business idea, to offer a Complete Service. Since in this law field most of the customers come to search the lawyer only when “the child has already fallen into the pit” – easily understandable given the high values of object – it seemed to me ideal, if the designer was at the same time also a lawyer, as a result many problems could be avoided from the outset.

Besides, I still had my old dream in the drawer: my passion for art, architecture, design, nature, gardens and parks … and my creativity … from a young age I was gifted with fantasy, a particular sense of colour and spatial imagination, have always drawn and painted (in Berlin also with a student of Kokoschka), experimented with different materials and designed.
On encouragement of my friends and an architect friend, I moved to London / UK to study Interior Design at the prestigious Chelsea Harbour Design Centre at the renowned KLC School of Design. There I graduated with top diploma, adding after an internship at the Bernard Thorp Company (finest fabrics and silk production), thus completing my previous training in order to realize my idea of full service. This study has changed my life radically, because I was finally arrived completely in my element. During my design education I have already developed projects for clients of the school from London, both for private clients (apartments, houses, lofts) and for business / contract (fashion model agency in Chelsea, Fashion House Jaeger, up-grade 3 to 5 stars entire Pastoria Hotel – incl. lobby, restaurant, bar – etc.), etc. Thanks to much travelling and many transfers throughout my life, always with a particular interest in history, art, architecture and design, I have during my design education also placed an emphasis on the historical development of the design and have received in 2000 from Brinton’s Carpets Company (famous British producer of carpets) the Award for “The best history style compendium”.

Shortly after, my friends in Pisa asked me, if I wanted to come to Tuscany … So they run into open doors and my business idea began to take shape: to become a BRIDGEHEAD IN TUSCANY offering a complete service with an expert as a contact of reference, with which customers can discuss in their native language their Tuscan dream, and who helps them to realize their project, involving a proven network of local professionals and suppliers.

In February 2001, I then moved to the province of Pisa, excellent logistics location, and have specifically sought a dilapidated, historical property in order to collect at my own risk on-site experience in the renovation of old buildings and to create me a network of reliable professionals, artisans, suppliers, etc. – the prerequisites to be able to offer a qualified complete service with the future Tuscany ProCasa. Accordingly, I have soon after acquired half of the historic Padronalvilla “il Palazzetto” in Santo Pietro Belvedere. The villa had been uninhabited for over 10 years and for over 30 years, no remedial work had been carried out. She looked pitiful and the garden / park was a completely neglected Jungle with over head-high weeds. When I came up the driveway for the first time, I thought “now you’re fat booty of madness, that you’ll never make it …” (which was fully confirmed to me by my family …). But at the same time I knew with certainty: that’s it! And I fell in love with this country manor house. The structure of the building was healthy and there were magnificent old trees and shrubs. The villa was initially extremely spartan with only a 0.80 sqm tiny bathroom in “antiquarian” state under the stairs and completely without heating, but livable … and so I went to work with enthusiasm.
Gradually, I renovated the entire property with the help of craftsmen, but also working on it a lot by myself, ranging from supporting the entire facade on the rocky ground by micro-pillars, the excavation and drainage of the entire ground floor, the restructuring and insulation of the roof, the restoration of the facade and the fixtures, the installation of all electrical lines and water pipes, heating systems, fireplaces, designer bathrooms, kitchens, restoration of the original late 1700s early 1800s wall and ceiling paintings, complete interior design, furnishings including pelmets, valances and curtains in the style of the villa, etc., to the design and recreation of the park / garden, etc. Overall, it was particularly important to me to retain and incorporate the original features of the era, and back it accentuating their beauty, to preserve the special and unique atmosphere of this beautiful Tuscan villa.

Since 2001 I live and work in the villa and have established here in 2003 also the office of ToscanaProCasa, from where I since then with great commitment assist the customers of ToscanaProCasa.
As a special service for my clients, I have converted the former manor steward’s house into a rentable, very nice holiday apartment, which serves since 2010 among other things for my clients as a “foothold” in Tuscany (heading “Vacation Residence” on this site).