The Villa Villa Monticelli is beautifully situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Acropolis and dominates the Valley of the river Rio. The current appearance of the building is the result of numerous building phases occurred over almost a thousand years, which left their traces on the facade.
The first mention of the settlement dates back to the ninth century a.d., when the building was a small castle with its garrison. Around the year 1000 it was transformed into a convent, first Benedictine, then Cistercian: it was precisely the Cistercian nuns, in 1304, to deliver to Pope Benedict XI, at the time living in Perugia, figs poisoned which caused his death. After burying the deceased Pope in a marble mausoleum at the right of the main altar in the Church of San Domenico, the Church of Perugia closed the convent.
It was then sold to captain Francesco Della Rosa, Lieutenant of the Antinori family of Arezzo, which around the beginning of the 16th century transformed it into the Villa we see today, expanding the original building according the style of a Tuscan Medici’s Villa: two wings were added, the gallery and the two terraces that are hosting the Italian gardens.
Villa Monticelli still preserves the structural features of the sixteenth century. After several changes of ownership, in the nineteenth entury the Villa came into possession of the painter and decorator Hannibal Angelini, who was using it for his "vacation", to rest during the summer with his family. Between 1854 and 1876 the artist painted completely the main floor: the aesthetic suggestions that he had gathered in decorating some of the most beautiful palaces of the Country, found a new and original synthesis in the vaults of Villa Monticelli, who became one of the most beautiful and significant aristocratic residences Umbria.
The typical two-wings shape encloses the courtyard of the villa: here the airy loggia of the northwest side opens panoramically on the low Italian garden and on the large orangery, which overlook the river Rio’s valley and prospectively the city of Perugia
On the eastern side, a peaceful garden – almost a secret garden - full of valuable white marble statues, hosts the botanical species and family busts, offering visitors eager to rest angles of serene beauty.
The Villa and its historic gardens are the heart of the estate “Tenuta Monticelli”:
here 75 hectares of olive trees, interspersed with forests and orchards, where roe deer and wild boar live freely, are treated with all the passion of a family business.
The farming in the “Tenuta Monticelli” follows organic agriculture practices, using healthy and high-quality agricultural production methods that protect the environment, the nature and the traditional agricultural landscape of Umbria.
A collection of characteristics and unique landscapes that make Villa Monticelli unforgettable and bear witness to its long way through the ages.
On the first floor - the so-called "piano nobile", where the master and his family lived -, the visitors are astonished by the novelty of the composition and the splendor of the colors which animates the frescos of the parlor, the gallery and the rooms.
The four hundred square meters of frescoes that adorn the first floor of Villa Monticelli, made by the Painter and Decorator Hannibal Angelini, represent one of the greatest figurative expression of the second half of the 19th century. Seven are the frescoed rooms: the entrance Gallery, the Main Parlor and four rooms radiating from it, and the Winter Garden entirely frescoed with Umbrian landscapes, rich in hills, lakes and colourful fauna.
The theme of the painting cycle of the gallery are the zodiac signs, allocated within architectural scans on which are also painted exotic animals and domestic birds.
The Main Parlor captivates visitors with the splendid architectural perspective of the vault, thanks to which the ceiling break arched upwards at various levels of depth.
Along the current decoration on which rests the figurative system of the vault, many figures of gods and mythological animals inhabit the series of lunettes stellate and architectural decorative nineteenth-century-style painted partitions. Around this central space there are four rooms, each of which is decorated with a different theme or style: the Room of the Popes, where in the year XXX also slept Cardinal Pecci - the future Pope Leo XIII - decorated with Pompeian motifs; the so-called "white room" decorated with grotesques and Roman landscapes, the "yellow room" and finally the "red room".
Who for 50 years devoted himself to decoration of these splendid halls was Hannibal Angelini, painter, designer, decorator, Restorer and master of perspective at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome and Naples.
Angelini was born in Perugia on 12 may 1810. After studying with Giovanni Monotti and Tommaso Minardi at the Academy of fine arts in Perugia, he studied in Florence with the historical painter Giuseppe Bezzuoli and in Milan with production designer Alessandro Sanquirico. Husband of Marchioness perugina Esterina Antinori, daughter of Marquis Giuseppe Antinori, Celidora Alfani and Annibal used to stay during the summer at Villa Monticelli with the family, to rest from the fatigue of his pictorial or restoration sites.
Starting from the late 1930s, in fact, for about fifty years Angelini worked intensely in the Roman art world and umbro. In Rome he lived long in the Palace of Prince Andrea Doria Pamphilj and became part of the inner circle of both the Prince and Tommaso Minardi, getting through them many commissions, including the frescoes in the House of Prince Vincenzo Colonna di Piazza Santi Apostoli (1839).
Official painter of the House of Savoy and of the Popes Gregory XVI, Pius IX and Leo XIII, he worked for many noble families: Chigi, Colonna, Torlonia, Massimo, Corsini, Patrizi, Del Drago, Lancellotti and Borghese, working in churches, basilicas and luxurious Roman residences - including the Quirinale Palace, in the Vatican, in the Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia, in residences both in Umbria and Lazio as in the Villa Grazioli of Castelporziano, today residence of the President of the Republic. Still very young, Angelini restored the Vatican’s Third Loggia painted by Raphael and around 1950 he restored Michelangelo's frescoes in the Pauline chapel, while under Pope Leo XIII painted the interior of the dome of St Peter's. He also worked in Genoa in the Doria Pamphilj and Pallavicini Palace and in Paris, where he painted the Italian Pavilion for the Universal exhibition (1863). In Orvieto, together with his team he painted the Mancinelli Theatre (1863-1866), the Palace of the count Claudio Faina (1865-1870) and Fabio Pandolfi in via del Duomo (1863-1866).
Worked very hard in Perugia too, where he restored the Interior of the Cathedral, painted the façade of his palace in piazza Piccinino – frescoes now disappeared – and his beloved Villa in Monticelli. Many were the palaces of the rich provincial middle-class, from the 1860s onwards, that Angelini was called upon to renew with neocinquecentesco taste, typical of the Roman residences of Torlonia’s Family: in these rich dwellings, in Rome and in the Vatican state, he worked until his death in Perugia on 19 July 1884.