Palazzo Museo Bourbon del Monte is one of the buildings that, even visually, distinguishes Monta Santa Maria Tiberina the most. The suggestive walled hamlet, built around the high tower, dominates the territory and the below Tiber Valley at 360° from a height of 690 metres above sea level: this strategic position, along a transversal connecting route between the Etrurian centres to the west and the axis of the Tiber valley to the east, has characterised the history of this settlement of ancient origins throughout the course of the centuries.
In the building the Un feudo imperiale tra Umbria e Toscana historic, archaeological exhibition is staged, dedicated to the territory of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina and to the noble family that governed it for approximately six centuries (1250-1815), the Bourbon del Monte Marquises, one of the most important families from the Medieval period to the modern age. In the archaeological section on display are artefacts discovered in the municipal territory and relative to an extremely broad period that goes from prehistoric to the period of Etruscan rule, up until the Lombardic presence. Also part of the museum itinerary is the underground cellar area, used for the production and conservation of goods and agricultural products, still reflected today by the presence of two vats for the pressing of grapes (XVII sec.). The first floor, also known as the noble floor, was reserved for the apartments of the Marquis family.
Opened in 2011, the building hosts conferences, exhibitions and art expositions.
In 1355 the little marquisate of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina became an imperial domain, independent following consent and privilege given to the Marquis of Monte by the Emperor Carlo IV; this guaranteed concessions and privileges, which were renewed with the successive certificate in 1699 by the Emperor Leopoldo d’Asburgo. Amongst these privileges and rights for a certain period was the liberty to declare peace and war and to stipulate alliance pacts, to exert high and low justice for civil and penal cases, even the death penalty, its own currency, the so-called “fiorino montesco”, and to have a free area for duelling on the territory.
The marquisate survived until 1815 when, following the Congress of Vienna, the decision was made to suppress little feudal lands and the territory was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany monarchy.
The original building, a simple fort with a lookout tower annex (XI sec.), was destroyed in 1198 at the request of Pope Innocenzo III and immediately rebuilt. In 1250 The castle of Monte Santa Maria became the stronghold of Guido di Montemigiano, the first of the so-called Marquises of Monte Santa Maria, and over the course of time, was adapted and expanded often, reaching its maximum expansion in the sixteenth century, with the works initiated by the Marquis Giovan Battista Bourbon del Monte. During the Second World War, the complex was seriously damaged as a result of the bombings that occurred during the liberation of the territory from the Nazi troops; the current appearance is thanks to the restoration works carried out starting in 1989, following the purchase by the Monte Santa Maria Tiberina municipality.
A. Ascani, Monte Santa Maria e i suoi Marchesi, I.P.S.I.A., Città di Castello, 1977.
U. Barberi, I Marchesi Bourbon del Monte S. Maria, di Petrella e di Sorbello, Tip. Unione Arti Grafiche, Città di Castello, 1943.
P. Cerami-Benno Scharf (a cura di), Monte Santa Maria, Lippiano e dintorni, Delta Grafica, Città di Castello, 1986.
C. Mori Bourbon di Petrella, Storia di un Feudo Imperiale. I marchesi del Monte tra la Toscana e l’Umbria, 2017.