ITALY, TUSCANY, SIENA, PIENZA
The first references to the fortified hamlet of Monticchiello are found in a sales act from 755 and in an inventory of fortifications from 973, but its origins probably extend to the Etruscan times.
Perched on a hilltop reaching 570 metres above the sea level, this medieval village, remains visually almost untouched. Part of the municipality of Pienza, the village is located within the Province of Siena.
The nearest towns are Pienza in the west and Montepulciano in the east, each less than 10km away as the crow flies.
The village is surrounded by a wall with several watchtowers. The crest of the hill is dominated by the keep or central tower of the old fortress. On a clear day, it is visible all the way to Siena. Its rooftop terrace offers a magnificent 360-degree panorama.
The rolling cultural landscape of Val d’Orcia has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
The region is known for its Pecorino cheese made from sheep’s milk and for its wines: the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano and the Brunello of Montalcino, both from local Sangiovese grapes, rank among Italy’s top red wines.
The village still has a post office, cashpoint, a small grocery store and an information centre with Internet access, maintained by the Theater Society.
Furthermore, there are two excellent restaurants and a café-bar for lighter snacks. The terrace of the gate side restaurant, La Porta, was listed by a U.S. travel magazine as one of the world’s twenty most romantic places.
A small shop selling high-quality linen and cotton items, and an even smaller boutique for ladies’ fashion articles have often been mentioned in German and British travel media.
Among the medieval fortifications of the area, only this tower, built in 1256-57, has survived. Never a residence, the Torre was soldiers’ shelter against the enemy and the elements.
In the summer of 1967, the Finnish sculptress Eila Hiltunen visited Italy to see some potential structures suggested by the Italian Castles Association and she felt in love with this little jewel.
It took the following three years to convert the tower from ruins into a home.
The exterior, renewed in 2006, was under strict supervision by the antiquities authorities, but the interior could be designed freely.
There are two entrances: on the ground floor, where there is the technical room and the cellars, through a lift bridge on the first floor.
On the mezzanine floor there is a bedroom with bathroom, while on the first floor there is an office, currently working as a living room.
On the second floor there is the living room with high ceilings (originally the artist’s studio) with kitchen and on the third level, there are two bedrooms with one bathroom.
The tower is habitable all year round and can be easily heated thanks to the thick walls making the house warm in winter and cool in summer.
The roof terrace offers an incomparable view.
The surrounding garden extends for 0.9 hectares and includes 90 olive trees making 150-200 kilograms of oil a year, as well as 12 plum trees, cherries, strong scents of mint, rosemary and other herbs growing wild all over the place.
The oil production could be increased.
The systems were renewed in early 2000s. The boiler and the pump were replaced in 2001.