One of our full day rides visits this historic villa in the Peccioli region, which lies under Pisan rule. The Villa Monti is part of a large cattle farm and the owners today also have a couple of horses. This is one of my favorite sections of the rides we do. One of the clients last week asked me, “Which is your favorite ride”, my answer was that I have no favorite ride in itself. All rides have parts that are lovely,and other parts that are nice, but nothing special. Some rides have (thankfully) small sections that are not lovely at all.. bud necessary to get from A-B. It is the journey, and sometimes the destination that matters to me. In saying that. The Monti farm is one of the sections that I love. Soft and eye pleasing scenery, that feels almost like it has been frozen in time. Dirt roads wind around cattle fields and ancient stone farm houses. Wildflowers carpet the Hills, and Cyprus trees line the driveway to the villa. Riding up this imposing road, one feels much as the original owners wealthy banker buddies would have felt in the 1400’s. The soft and steady clop of the horses feet. The slightly sour smell of cattle, mixed in with that of lush spring flowers and pine.
The original owner of the huge Villa Monti was a Bardi count. The Bardi’s were relatives of the Medici, and they too were one of the big names in banking during the Florentine renaissance period. The wife of Cosimo di Medici (and grandmother to Lorenzo) was a Bardi.
The Villa monti sits at the heart of the farm, on a panoramic hill that looks over the countryside below it. Historians think that the famous architect Buontalenti created the villa over top of ancient ruins of another building. The villa was originally created as a hunting lodge for the rich and powerful Florentine families. One interesting tale of the villa has it that the Villa is haunted to this day with ghosts, including that of a White horse which gallops at night through the surrounding countryside, and is seen most frequently when there is snow on the ground.
A fitting location perhaps for our horses to visit. There is so much history to these Renaissance homes. So many untold secrets lie within their walls. They were tough times for women, and many wives and lovers met their demise in awful ways, only to be quickly sent off to the family crypt under guise of a ‘sudden illness’. Villa Monti today stands quietly in the shadows of a beautiful landscape, holding these secrets tightly; making it only even more intriguing to visit.