Who we are
Montalto Castle has long been family owned, first by the Berardenga family, then by the Palmieri, and finally by Diana Coda-Nunziante and her late husband Giovanni, a Neapolitan nobleman who acquired the castle from a cousin in 1970. (See Montalto’s History for more details on the castle’s rich past, going back over 1,000 years).
Diana was born and raised in San Francisco but has lived in Italy for over 50 years. She speaks fluent Italian and English and fairly fluent French, some German and a very little Spanish. She likes to invite our guests to tea in the Hall of Arms on Monday afternoons (when possible), to see the frescos, meet each other and hear the history of the castle. Diana lives here all year round, with more space than she needs – space that she is happy to share with our guests.
Who you will meet on your arrival
Diana is assisted by Chiara (pronounced Keeah-ra), a knowledgeable, generous and enthusiastic young woman who will look after all your needs, and by her helpers who prepare the houses for our guests’ arrival and can be engaged to cook and clean for you if desired. Chiara was born in this area and knows it like the palm of her hand; she is happy to offer suggestions for things to do and recommend the best tours and the restaurants with the best local cuisine.
The grounds are maintained by Luciano, the farm hand. And there are many others on call, to cook or give lessons, guide tours or coach seminars, baby-sit, cater for parties and solve any problem.
And of course, as in all self-respecting castles, there is a ghost: la Dama Blu (the Blue Lady) — she might deign to visit you... if you believe in her.
The farm and its producs
Montalto Castle is in the center of an estate of 270 hectares, about 650 acres. While two thirds are woodlands, the rest is planted. Annual crops include wheat, sunflowers, alfalfa, canola and others, depending on the year. A portion of the land is planted in olive groves. There is also a vegetable garden and a chicken coop, and a bee keeper sets out his hives on our land.
The farm is certified organic. No pesticides, chemical fertilizers or weed killers are used.
Tenants of the houses at the castle can buy our extra-virgin olive oil, honey, eggs and garden vegetables in season, at cost.
Also available at a discount are good Chianti wines produced at the Spalletti winery belonging to relatives of the owners, in the Chianti Rufina area near Florence. (read more about Chianti wines)
In addition to these agricultural products, we often have ceramic and porcelain objects for sale, hand-decorated by local artists.
We enjoy this life, not only because the income helps to maintain the estate, but especially because the people who choose to come out to the country to spend their vacation in beautiful surroundings in an historic context, who welcome the simple life and the opportunity to visit the famous and less-known art treasures of this incredibly rich area of Italy, are people we like. We enjoy the opportunity to invite them into our home, to show them our collection of ancient weapons and to recount the history and legends of the castle, and we enjoy talking to them. Many have become our lasting friends.