THE HOUSE There is Latin expression, “Parva sed apta mihi.” A place that is perfect for us. Dolce Vita is exactly that. Small, special, charming and located in the heart of a medieval village in Tuscany.
Dolce Vita has just been restored and renovated completely to modern standards but restored to fully experience and capture the time and place that is medieval Tuscany. As we peeled back the layers of history, we unearthed the raw stone of the mountain. We recreated the authentic white washed finishes of the beam ceilings to create a light and airy atmosphere. We found the hand-built stone walls and arches hidden under layers of plaster. What we found was a wonderful, rich pallet of the colors of Tuscany. We added handmade terra cotta floor tiles to bring back the rich reds of our local clay. We are both food and wine professionals, so Dolce Vita is designed to high culinary standards – a kitchen to cook in, teach in and a dining chair to settle into for a long, relaxed evening of talk and enjoyment. We both travel widely and consult all over the world, though our home is in Montisi. We have equipped and outfitted the house to meet our own standards and then added antiques, ethnic pieces collected from our travels and some of our books and favorite pieces of art.
Dolce Vita is our family guest room, so we’ve made sure WE love it for our family, too. Dolce Vita is a house so ‘true’ it is meant to be lived in by our family and friends and now, our guests. It is ideal for a variety of dining experiences, cooking classes and tastings. We are specialists in wine and cheese, so Dolce Vita is conceived as a place to showcase the best of Tuscany. The living room with its soaring ceiling (a former painter’s studio) is the perfect setting for tasting, discussing and planning adventures into the mysteries of central Tuscany. The kitchen/dining room with its raw stone, laid stone wall, beam ceiling has a skylight that makes the room glow. It’s designed for learning, tasting and lingering. The area is perfect for pursuing knowledge and experience in art, history, food, wine, cheeses, olive oil, antiques and just the leisure of the countryside and hot springs.
In the center of the 3 great Tuscan wine regions Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Montisi offers a village home base for a wide exploration of the best of Tuscany. Dolce Vita has been designed for our family visits two people, plus the informality of the custom sofa-bed in the living room. If you and friends want to make Dolce Vita the center for excursions, we are happy to arrange a booking into a bed and breakfast inn, just steps away. Since the kitchen and dining and lounge can accommodate up to 8 people, enjoy Dolce Vita for getting together and yet have close-by accommodations, a quiet stroll through the village after a good meal.
THE TOWN AND MAPS Montisi is located between the Val di Chiana, Val Orcia and the Crete Senesi, ideal for exploring central Tuscany and yet with access to major cities an hour or less away; Siena, Perugia, Arezzo, Cortona, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, as well as monasteries and abbeys and castles. Rome is only 2.5 hours away and Florence 1.5 hours away. Even with only 380 permanent residents Montisi is a very active, lively village. Divided into 4 quartiers, or contrade, it hosts each year several festivals that center around its medieval history (Festa di Giostra di Simone in August) and the New Oil Festival in November. The contrade are the life blood of the village and it is often the case that dinners and parties flow out into the street and welcome visitors. Montisi has had a lively cinema since the 1930′s, which seats 100 people. In La Grancia, the last of the historic fortified farms along the pilgrimage route called Francigena, there is the completely restored 60 seat live theater that often hosts village theater performances and other activities.
Montisi has 4 restaurants, a bar and newsstand, a bakery, small grocery, bank, pharmacy and a seasonal harpsichord music school in our castle. Other activities include professional hot air ballooning and numerous painters and sculptors who often open their studios and workshops. Some of our local artists will also teach painting and drawing by reservation. In short, Montisi can captivate you and allow you to leave your car behind or explore actively the elements of Italian life, Tuscany life and the gentle country life just outside the city walls.
HOUSE TOUR The history of the house is really quite special. A trace still remains of the original heart of Montisi Castle and its tower and battlements, circa XII Century. Montisi, as a village, snakes along the narrow spine of the hill, crowned by the old castle and the part of the village called Castello. Dolce Vita is literally built against the native stone of the mountain, a rough sandstone called tuffa. Striated with a wonderful range of warm yellows, grays and veins of white crystals, this raw stone forms the back wall of Dolce Vita, the base of the old castle. The chisel strokes of the ancient masons can clearly be seen as you climb the stairs. Eight centuries of history have passed since those strokes were taken. These rooms originally housed the food and grain stores for the houses along the street as you can see from the loading door sized window in the kitchen/dining room. Sacks, barrels and baskets were winched into these rooms to pass the winter, until needed. As you enter from the street you can see the ancient carved stone. A half story up, on your left is the landing for coats and the entrance to the fun and luxurious bath. With a generous stone shower, soaking tub, vanity, necessaries and even a washer and dryer, Dolce Vita exceeds your needs and can even indulge you a bit. The house main floor consists of a private bedroom with one of a kind painted antique wardrobe, the large kitchen/dining room with beamed ceiling and large French windows overlooking the street. Beyond, is the living room. Living room This room was originally part of a nobleman’s palace. A tapestry of different stones were hidden under years of plaster by the painter who used this room as her studio for years. Arched-head French windows overlook the main street. Dolce Vita is furnished from our travels and local antique markets, like Arezzo and Monte San Savino, sculptures, oriental carpets and other art. You can relax with your own music on the music system, watch a dvd, read, drink a great glass of wine and relive your days adventures. The house has wi-fi throughout for your convenience. Kitchen As you can tell from the size and location of the French doors to the street below, the kitchen was originally a barn. We found an ancient arch in the stones of the back wall and discovered beyond, the raw stone of the mountain. This is the centerpiece of the room, lit from above by a skylight. The space is generous and roomy and the furniture is designed to invite you to linger either to plan an interesting day out or over the last glass of local wine. Given that we both make our living in the world of fine food and wine. We have installed a large island to stage lessons, pull dough and indulge in the pleasure of preparing our fine local products. The kitchen is fitted with a professional ILVE gas cooker. We’ve tucked two refrigerators under the island to keep the room open and spare, but to put all that you need at your fingertips. You’ll find the same professional quality throughout the cutlery, wine glasses (different types to show off our fine wines and grappas) and tableware. Candles and serving ware will complete you table. Bedroom The bedroom has a beamed ceiling with a little studio level for any business you may need to do. The raw stone of the mountain forms part of the back wall and two windows face south, across the street, to the lovely views over the rooftops to the hills beyond. The matrimonial-sized bed (halfway between a queen-size and a king) has a specially made latex, pure cotton and linen mattress, fully appointed with a variety of pillows, cushions and seasonally appropriate blankets and comforters. All this to make your sleep as comfortable as possible. Bathroom To compliment the natural stone of the mountain and the walls, the large shower with bench is paneled with rare Rapolano travertine. The supremely comfortable cast iron tub is indulgent. The charming washbasin is made of Carrara marble in one slab. There is a small laundry adjoining with washer, dryer and ironing equipment.
Services When you arrive at Dolce Vita, you’ll receive a basket with wine, coffee, tea, sugar, olive oil, a bit of all staples. You will need to step across the street to our village grocery once you have settled on a menu or two. We welcome you with a few extra touches and urge you to settle in and make Dolce Vita your home. Linens are in place, soaps in the dish, and everything ready for your stay. The extensive House Book includes all of the information on things to do, restaurants, shops, wineries, courses, sport activities as well as how to use the appliances. Dolce Vita makes available a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and washer, dryer, iron equipment and vacuum cleaner. The house doesn’t have air-condition but all of rooms are equipped with ceiling fans. The house has a broadband Wi-Fi connection that extends throughout the house and we are happy to loan you a small laptop to make your Skype calls if don’t want to bring yours. There is also a speaker systems that you may connect to your iPhone or other MP3 players and enjoy your own music. We also offer a selection of DVDs if you want to watch a movie. Upon request and not included in the price we can provide additional linen changes, cleaning the house midweek, organize cooking classes, lunches and dinners with private chef, hot air balloon rides, massages, transport with experienced drivers, custom tours, painting classes, lessons riding and give you the necessary assistance before your arrival to arrange your perfect holiday, from airport transfers, booking restaurants, spas, events. Of special interest We have enjoyed so much the process of creating Dolce Vita; finding the fittings, designing the spaces, selecting the colors and the handmade floor tiles. Of special note, all of the iron fittings were made by Fabio Zacchei, a local artisan maker. The sculptures are the work of an artist whose studio is down the street, but whose work is seen all over Italy.
THINGS TO DO Antonella, the owner, is also a tourist guide to Siena, the official taster ONAF of cheese and wine expert. It can therefore be suggested itineraries that include art and gastronomy. Dolce Vita is the ideal base for a weekly program with a kitchen with a professional chef and wine tastings and cheese. We can organize cooking classes, lunches and dinners with private chef, hot air balloon rides, massages, transport with experienced drivers, custom tours, painting classes and many more. Please contact us for a proposal tailored to your needs. Leisure Sofa bed Wi Fi audio system for Mp3 or Iphone Ultra flat screen monitor for DVD (not television) Studio Laptop Wireless internet Bedroom Latex mattress Choice of pillows Kitchen 2 refrigerators *ILVE professional hob Gas oven Toaster Kettle Dishwasher Tableware Miscellaneous Washing machine Tumble dryer Iron and ironing board Vacuum cleaner On request Private chef Wine and cheese tastings Cooking lessons Private transfers Trips in hot air balloon Tours and excursions Midweek cleaning Additional linen change 155 In the last