Montecavallo is a stately villa in Montepulciano that was originally owned by the Contucci wine family. We are currently in process with renovation of this grand old lady so it can hosts families and groups in the future.

Montecavallo means “horse mountain” in Italian and it sits just outside Montepulciano.

We met in March to begin the first phase of renewal, which is focused on the exterior gardens that need some pruning and replacement of dead trees. Montecavallo is a historic monument, so this work must all be planned and approved by the governing body in Siena.

The family left us several things in the house that we can use after the renovation including some rugs, art and antique pieces of furniture. Some things were too modern for our vision of the house, so we contacted a local charity and they hauled away the items so other families can use the furniture we don’t need.

No heating inside the house, so we made a fire to keep warm.

I loaded up the dusty rugs and hauled them to the cleaner. My back is not happy!

All the remaining items are stacked in a room. They’ll get covered before work begins.

On our last trip, we made some interesting discoveries about Montecavallo. First, we knew there was an Etruscan tomb under the house, but we mistakenly thought it was a part of the cantina. Then, under a door that covered the hole, we found the real tomb. Explore it with us through these videos.

Our second discovery was to find frescoes under the paint in the main hall of the villa. What is a fresco? Fresco is a technique used by artists to paint murals on fresh plaster so the painting is actually in the wall instead of on top of it.

An Italian friend told us how to carefully look for those, and sure enough, Jess found some! Now the work will be turned over to a restoration expert so they can be properly uncovered and preserved.

The professional restorer arrived to do an initial discovery of what frescoes might exist. We were surprised to find they are far more expansive than we originally thought. Here are some pictures:

A vivid blue is exposed in an ante room adjoining the great hall.

They even found a fresco that resembles marbling in the doorway.

These go all around the window in the great hall.

In the room next to the great hall, the fresco goes onto the ceiling.

While this discovery is exciting, it does delay the work a bit as we need to make sure these areas are carefully uncovered and preserved. In the end, the importance of the house and its history will be preserved for many years to come.

What happens next? We are waiting on approvals from the governing body of Siena on plans for the house and gathering bids for the areas that need restoration. Sometimes the waiting can go a long time in Italy since many boxes need to be checked before permissions are granted.

Check back for more updates in 2024!