This small, charming palazzo is located in the medieval hilltop village of Monforte d'Alba, in the heart of the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont UNESCO World Heritage zone. The villages in the region - Barolo, La Morra, Grinzane Cavour, Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d'Alba - are surrounded by a unique landscape of Nebbiolo vineyards, famous for the production of the iconic red wine. Visitors from all over the world are attracted to the unsurpassed wine-making traditions of the area together with the wine bars, restaurants, trattorias and boutique hotels that they have inspired. The nearby town of Alba, famous for its annual truffle festival, can be reached within 15 minutes, while the international airports of Turin, Genoa and Milan are 60 to 90 minutes away.
The Palazzo is located near the highest point of the town, at the edge of a pedestrian-only zone of alleys and passageways - it is therefore very quiet and peaceful. However, it is also easily accessible by car, and includes some parking facilities.
The foundations of the building are around 1000 years old - grottoes from that period are still intact, and used today for wine storage. The Gothic arches visible at steet level also serve as clues to its ancient provenance. The lower floors were originally simple alcove warehouses, used for storage of wheat and other cereals. In 1794 a municipal prison was established on the second floor. Around this time a large comunal bread oven was also installed, which was still in use as late as 1963, although much of the building was abandoned following a partial collapse in 1928. The building remained a ruin until it was acquired in 2012 by a private investor.
Since then, the ancient building has been meticulously repaired and rebuilt stone by stone, brick by brick. The three-year renovation project was approved by the Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo (the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, in Turin), which has made every effort to ensure that the appropriate vernacular style was maintained. Today, an authentic medieval façade serves as a gateway to stylish and luxurious 21st century accommodation within.
The living area is now distributed on 3 levels, and the property has 4 separate entrances. All of the reception rooms and bedrooms can be heated independently, all windows are double-glazed, and an innovative LED lighting system provides subtle lighting effects in all the rooms. The result is both ingenious and exciting: medieval stone vault meets designer stainless steel, while antique Barolo oak barrels, dismantled and reassembled as wooden ceilings in the Piedmontese style, act in counterpoint to a muted yet intense color scheme that recalls vineyard shades from spring to autumn. The overall effect is both rustic and contemporary, and fits perfectly into the historical context.
The main entrance from the alley leads into the reception area with a breakfast kitchen, a living / breakfast room, and a guest bathroom. From a second entrance at the side of the building, a few steps lead up to a junior suite with a bathroom and access to the living room. This entrance also leads to the working area and to the grottoes, which - due to their constant temperatures - make ideal wine cellars.
The third entrance from the alley provides access to the second guest suite: it has a bathroom on the ground floor, an internal staircase, and a living room and a spacious bedroom on the first floor.
In addition to the living room and bedroom of the second suite, the third guest suite, with living room, bedroom and bathroom, is also located on the first floor. It is accessed from the second entrance area on the ground floor via a curved staircase with an LED light column.
The two larger suites were designed to accommodate mini-kitchens if required - connections for the necessary utilities are already in place.
The main accommodation is on the second floor: it is accessed via a small portico, and is independent from the rest of the house. Built on the remains of the historical structure, it now comprises a chic apartment with sensational views over the village, the vineyard landscape, and the French Alps to the west. The accommodation here includes two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large reception room with a well-equipped Gaggenau kitchen area. If required, it would be possible to create a small outdoor terrace here.
Services: Mains water, gas and electricity with independent supplies to the 4 units.
With a few small modifications, the palazzo is suitable for purely private use, but it would also be possible to create a small boutique hotel with 3 or 4 luxurious guest suites. The existing domestic help is also available to a new owner.
Our personal opinion: with contemporary design, a thousand years of history, and excellent craftsmanship together with attention to detail, this jewel of a property is truly unique. If you are looking for something extraordinary, versatile, immediately habitable, and in the very best Barolo location - here it is!