Arrived!!! Montepulciano is just as I remembered it, only now I am staying at the highest and oldest part of town between the XII century Fortress and the monastery of Santa Maria dei Servi, in the Politian Apartment. The houses in this part of Via del Poliziano were built in the first half of 1800 on previous settlements belonging to the monastery. This particular property was bought in 1889 by William Stuart, a British Royal Army Captain and his wife Anna Camp, who left Edinburgh in 1850 and came to live in Tuscany. They renovated several small houses on the monastery property into a palazzo for the family and servants, including a beautiful garden. The great grandchildren of William Stuart still live in the palazzo and have divided the main building into four large apartments, preserving the original features of the building and adding modern comforts with up to date plumbing and electrical work. The result is an extraordinary villa that makes you feel like you are living in a palace with a big shower and a fantastic kitchen, difficult things to find in the countryside of Italy.
For the decor Giacomo and Maria (sister/brother hosts) have restored the furniture, paintings, cabinets and armoires taken out of storage. I asked Giacomo about the furnishings and paintings one day and he told me all the furnishings presently in the house were deemed “too good, we must save them,” by his mother and had been in storage for many many years. When she passed, Giacomo decided the furnishings had stayed in storage long enough and they would be used. They even found his Great Great Grandmother’s trousseaux, tapestries, bedsteads and hand embroidered linens that had never been used. The tapestries and bedspreads were produced on a hand loom in Prato and some in the convents of Siena and Pienza. All are made of silk, linen, cotton or hemp. The embroideries were sown by “woman of the family,” mothers, aunts and grandmothers for the bride. Every Saturday when Maria and Jane (Jane is Romanian and that is what she is called in English, I can’t begin to pronounce it in Romanian) clean and I do mean clean, Maria asks me to pick my sheets for the week from a selection of great great grandmother’s antique linens that are pure white, pressed and starched. Unbelievable!!!!
Nearly all the paintings depict rural landscapes of Tuscany or seasides of Scotland. Except, my favorite painting in the large, large bedroom, that of Santa Lucia, painted in the late sixteenth century by Sienese artist, Domenico Beccafumi. The ceramic vases in the villa came from local workshops (that continue to make fine pottery) and the garden restoration included re-using all the old bricks and tiles made in the late 1800’ s. All the tiles on the floor in my apartment are original. They are a rusty red in color, some are squared and some are brick shaped. Giacomo said the garden bricks are the same bricks as the house floor bricks, just with a glaze and fine polishing added for house-use bricks. The ceilings are fourteen feet tall and the windows are five feet tall, narrowed and shuttered. To open the window there is a long rod/bolt affair from the top of the window to the bottom of the window. There are no screens and no bugs. The window casings are marble. There are working fireplaces in every room! I am sending a picture of the ceiling in my bedroom and will continue more tomorrow. Ciao!
If you are interested in the Politian Apartments, your home away from home contact:
Via del Poliziano 34
Montepulciano Siena, Tuscany
Tel. +39 0578 716624