Montelifrè is a village in the municipality of Montalcino, in the province of Siena. Numerous archaic tombs have been found in this area; in Belsedere, Porrona and in S. Stefano in Cennano. The necropolis of Poggio Pinci is only a few kilometers away and a centuries-old path, starting from Asciano, connects Montelifrè to a dense network of roads leading to the Etruscan areas of Sovana, Sorano and Saturnia, north of Vetulonia and Populonia.
In ancient Roman times the first defensive ‘castrum’ was built here. It would have begun life as a simple fortification on top of a hill but during the Early Medieval period it developed into a shelter for wayfarers, as it was on the road that was used by those travelling from Rome to defend Christianity in the centre and north of Italy. It connects the centuries-old baptistry of Santo Stefano in Cennano (CastelMuzio) and Sant'Andrea in Malcenis (Trequanda), easily reachable from Montelifrè. Continuing southwards, the monastery of Sant'Anna in Camprena and the Pieve di Corsignano (Pienza) can also be reached.
In the Middle Ages, MonteRanfredi became a castle while under French ownership. It was then repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. It seems that the fortress was very similar to that of Montalcino, which can be seen in the distance. Formerly a fief of the Cacciaconti di Asciano, in 1323 Monterifredi became a small rural municipality. The census carried out by Siena’s Government of Nine in that year reveals that the castle and its feudal estate consisted of a church (re-built in 1600), houses, farm houses, an olive press, a furnace, coal shed, mills, olive groves, fields, pastures, woods, chestnut woods and small farms.
The last heir of the Cacciaconti, Ildebrandino, in 1328, sold almost all of the houses, squares and land located in this Curia ("castrum, fortilitium et palacium" included). They were sold to a merchant from Siena called Spinello, of the Tolomei family. The family subsequently sold the property, land and all their possessions to Betto di Martinozzo, a merchant from Montepulciano following the terrible black plague in 1348 and the bankruptcy of the Banco di famiglia. The Martinozzi family continued to buy in the area and subsequently centralised the properties in Montelifrè, ending the relationship with the municipality in 1400. The family were close supporters of the Pope and had links with the Medici and then also the Lorena family. The fortress was destroyed in 1527 by the Sienese but the houses and fort were rebuilt. A silk spinning factory was added at the turn of the nineteenth century and a brick furnace was put in place at the end of the nineteenth century.
The hamlet and its surrounding woods still belong to the same family. They have turned it into an Azienda Agrituristica (an Agricultural Tourist Business) and it’s possible to visit the San Biagio Church, the fortress, a twelfth/thirteenth century tower, the villa, the farm houses and the rich surrounding woods where there are still old mills and ruins of old farm houses and the castle remains buried under the moss and broom.