Boutique apartments in undiscovered Tuscany. Pure, understated Italian style, in a late middle ages into early Renaissance "palazzo". Tucked away in a heaven of a location on a silent, castled hill top. In Maremma Tuscany. With a view. Oh what a view.
The building first came into being in the middle ages, built with stones taken from the crumbling castle above. On top of an Etruscan residence! And was then extended up and over the ancient city gates in the early Renaissance. To become a three storey property.
When Gabriella first brought her home and the rooms below it, the large apartment on the floor above belonged to somebody else. It was Maria's. The old lady who liked to read literature and whose bedroom window opened onto a view that would make any heart sing of a morning.
It took my breath away when I looked out of those windows for the first time. And has done every single time since.
But destiny in this case knew what she was planning. Gabriella set about restoring her new home under the arch and what was to be her first holiday apartment. Along the path, downstairs. Months rolled into years and things were nearing completion when, sadly, Maria passed away.
And then the next part of Gabriella's life story was played out. A story that you can tangibly feel in the vibes between the walls on either side of the tiny, twisting, medieval street called Via di Corte. A story written in the stones long ago.
Maria's home was put up for sale and, eventually, Gabriella managed to purchase it. Bringing the whole palazzo back into one again. The way it was meant to be.
It was a huge undertaking, for she knew the apartment needed a lot of loving attention and restoration. A lot of restoration.
But what she didn't know, was that it had been hiding secrets for years. Secrets it revealed as surprises - like a child returning home with bunches of wild flowers to make mum smile, with a lizard tucked inside - when the time was right. The kind of surprises that halt work the moment they are found. That blow budgets and project plans out of the roof. And lead to many sleepless nights.
But which, in the end, in true Italian style, leave their owners penniless but pleased with the outcome!
The view from the dining room window.
The panorama from "Maria's'" bedroom.
The apartment is a large one, extending over 100 m². It has two double bedrooms. The second of which, Maria's room, has a light-filled adjoining day room/studio. Also with that stunning view. The remainder of the accommodation comprises of a spacious dining room, separate kitchen. And a bathroom.
The first double bedroom is accessed from the dining room and connects - via a lockable door - to the second bedroom.
The second bedroom is also accessible via the internal corridor that links the dining room to the day room.
The frescoes - which have been dated to around the 13th or 14th century - were found under many layers of paint when the builders had just started work and were channeling new electricity cables from one room to another.
All worked stopped until Gabriella could get a professional in to preserve them.
And what started as only half a visible arch, turned into one magnificent full one that clearly once joined two rooms of importance. So opened again it was. As it deserved to be.
The floor in the day room is the original "cotta" - terracotta floor.
Maria's bedroom. Restored to its full glory.
Wit its original wood-burning stove.
When Gabriella isn't home in Maremma, amongst other things, she owns and runs an international art gallery. So the art work on the apartment walls isn't just any art work!
You'll find a a revolving display of operas from famous photographers and artists. Many of whom she knows personally. Plus the occasional gold shoe!
The kitchen comes fully equipped with an electric oven and gas hob, and full size fridge-freezer.
NOTE. If you'd rather not have to think about shopping for supplies for your first dinner or breakfast in Montemassi, then Gabriella will happily arrange for whatever you need to be purchased and left for you in your apartment.
There is only one bathroom in the apartment, but it is an ample sized, fresh, sparkling, brand new one.
The second of Gabriella's apartments is located three floors down. With it's own entrance from the stone-paved medieval street that once was the main entrance through the ancient city walls, this studio apartment is the perfect romantic hideaway for two.
The third and very spacious apartment occupies the level between the other two and is Gabriella's home. Which, with sufficient advance notice, she also rents out.
Especially when a group of friends or a family need more space than the studio apartment offers. Because it connects with the apartment below. (The access is locked when the apartment is rented.)
Every time I take the drive to Montemassi and see it for the first time from the road below, I want to stop the car to take a photo. But can't, as you aren't allowed to park along that stretch. But on this day, when a summer storm was in the air, I did.
And captured just a little of its magic.
Montemassi castle - the Castello di Montemassi - is a wonderful place to explore and then just sit and stare. Just feet away from your apartment, it is the place to take your bottle of wine and glasses to watch the sunset over Maremma.
If you are brave enough and the ladder isn't locked, you can climb (it is a vertical one) inside for the view from the top of the tower.
The view to Gabriella's apartments - the building immediately to the left of the church bell tower - from the castle walls.
And on a hazy day across Maremma's metalliferous hills.
To check on availability, price, and to ask any questions you may have, contact Gabriella directly via the email form below.
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