For the first time in my life I slept in a medieval castle in Tuscany thanks to Vacations Abroad, that offers unique vacations rentals in Tuscany and Italy!
In 16th century the Palmieri family took the castle and Montalto became then an independent hamlet with the only obligation of loyal alliance to Sienese Republic. Palmieri owned the castle for over 400 years turning it into a residential manor when it became part of the Gran duchy of Tuscany. The beautiful frescoes inside the Arms room depict perfectly how was life in Montalto: hunting and agriculture where the main activities.
The hamlet was a real community with its own school and church, counting more than 100 inhabitants until WWII. In 1970 the castle was sold to present owners, the Coda Nunziante family, relatives of the Palmieri family. Actually Diana still lives in the castle, where she moved with her husband Giovanni leaving her native California. She’s such a nice lady and I love how she manages the castle. As a matter of fact you can easily see her taking care of the flowers, or talking to guests making Montalto alive and different from other holidays accommodations.
The legend of the Blue Dame
Legend has it that in Montalto Castle lives a ghost of a woman, locally called the Blue Dame. The story dates back to 17th century when one of the Palmieri men had an affair with a beautiful woman. When the wife discovered the love affair, she decided to poison her husband’s lover. When Palmieri found it out he was desperate and didn’t want to leave his beloved. He decided to cut her head off and placed it inside his private studio on a column on which he wrote in Latin “Sum Quo Deris” i.e. I’m what you’d be.
Actually a skull was really founded inside the studio located inside the castle’s tower. Diana decided to give it to the local priest to bless and bury it. She has never seen the ghost of the Blues Dame, but few years ago one of her guests, who was reading and drinking a glass of wine in the garden felt like someone was sitting on his legs, but he saw nobody. And of course we don’t know how glasses of Chianti wine he drank before that feeling ;).
Holidays and dolcevita in Montalto
Nowadays the Castle of Montalto is the private residence of Diane and her family, but also a charming holiday destination in Siena. As a matter of fact some of the buildings inside the hamlet have turned into large and independent apartments for a dreaming vacations in Tuscany. The property has also a swimming pool, a playground, a tennis field and a bowling ground. Everything you need for the perfect Tuscan holiday!
My apartment was the Voliera, that used to be the pheasants’ nursery. It’s a large apartment for 2 people in a perfect vintage style with a well equipped kitchenette, with a small private garden where I loved to spend my time writing. I also loved the large common areas located inside the former stables. Breakfast was not included but you can book it for 8€ and get a rich breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, ham, cheese, jam, chocolate, bread, pastries and cakes.
In addition you can buy some fresh and 100% organic vegetables at the reception. There is a small vegetable garden and every morning you can find season vegetables on your disposal. I found this a very nice service for guests. Last but not least the castle can be rented for weddings and special events. Actually when I was there a young English couple got engaged (he proposed and got her a huge ring) and chose Montalto as the location for their wedding next year. That was so romantic!
- Keep calm and enjoy dolcevita! – If yu’re going to stay in Montalto forget about rush vacations. Don’t struggle to see everything. Just take the time to enjoy the slow life within the castle and its stunning surroundings.
- Book your breakfast – the rich buffet for breakfast is really worth the money. Everything is fresh and delicious.