Accommodating four guests, Casa Valdeste is a beautiful late 14th-century, terrace-style two-bedroom cottage on three floors, 60 metres from Montone's centrepiece, Piazza Fortebraccio, the main square in the medieval village of Montone.
The walls are of stone, about one metre thick and buttressed on the south-western side. The house features huge oak and chestnut beams on all ceilings, double-glazed chestnut windows, world-renowned Cotto d'Este floor tiles and exquisite ceramic wall-hangings.
Casa Valdeste seats six to dinner.
Owned by Australians, Stephen Jones and Michele Day, Casa Valdeste is managed day-to-day by our English-speaking agent, who lives nearby in Montone.
A short recent history of Casa Valdeste
When Stephen Jones and Michele Day bought Casa Valdeste in late 2001 it had been abandoned for about 40 years. The owner at the time, a builder from Rome, had made a few improvements - new roof, rendering of the external walls and a skylight in the main bedroom - but he wanted to move on, to do something else. After a shake of the hands and an anxious wait, the sale went through without a hitch and there followed several months of renovations during 2002 under the watchful eye of Montone geometra Paolo Montagnini.
The front door was a couple of hundred years old and unsalvageable. The stonework surrounding the door was in good condition and is still there to greet you on arrival.
The original stairs were very old and very worn, unfortunately far too worn for safety. Only part of the walls had been rendered at this stage so you can see roughly what the walls looked like when we bought the house. The walls in some of the other still-unrenovated houses in Montone are in far worse shape than those we had to deal with.
The early stages of the bathroom on the 2nd floor. Still no windows. The sloping slab of concrete has been transformed into a window seat, with a great view over the valley of the Tiber.
The pictures were taken in July 2002, a few months into the renovations. Even those taken a few months later - in October and November 2002 - make it hard to believe that we actually moved into the house on 17th December 2002. The work wasn't quite finished but the house was habitable. The ground floor bedroom after the first render of the rough stone wall. The protruding bricks supporting the beam against the wall are called a "beccatello" or corbel, in English.
Beams in houses such as Casa Valdeste normally last 150 to 200 years. We were lucky as we only had to replace two. The replacements came from second-hand stock. The beams in Casa Valdeste are of oak and chestnut timber. Although they are more than five metres in length and 300 x 300 millimetres they are surprisingly light. Two men can carry them; three can manoeuvre them into place. The beams have since been sand-blasted and coated.