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Famiglia Mandosi

La Fontana was part of the Estate of the Mandosi Barcherini family who were large landowners in the Amelia region.
The Mandosi's were the first family in Amelia to rise in the hierarchy of the Roman Papal Curia, with Mandosi appointed as the first Bishop of Amelia.
The Mandosi family built palaces in Amelia and in Rome starting in 1440.
You can visit the Mandosi Barcherini Palace in Amelia in Via Cavour 1. There is also a Mandosi palace in Rome on the left of Piazza Farnese looking at Palazzo Farnese, site of the current French embassy.
Amelia like many of the hill towns of Umbria was a profoundly agricultural community.
After the end of World War II, Italy and its agriculture were decimated by the effects of two occupying armies.
Italy switched sides during WWII on September 8th 1943, after Marshall Badoglio's speech in which Mussolini and the Nazi axis were rejected, and Badoglio sided with the allied army under general Dwight Eisenhower.

The Mezzadria, [Tenant Farmer].

The resulting post war chaos affected all aspects of farming and the countryside. Logistics and infrastructure needed to be rebuilt urgently and the emphasis in the post war years was the concentration on industrial jobs.

Thousands of agricultural jobs were shed. At the end of the war, Umbria's population was in region of 770,000.
60% of the labor force was engaged in agriculture.
In just 7 years after the end of the war approximately 175,000 jobs in agriculture were lost. The main local crops of figs, olive oil, and to a less extent vines just could not support a family.
Today less than 5% of Umbria's population is actively engaged in farming. In the 1950's and 1960's most of those in agriculture were tenant farmers on very large estates, and worked for a share of the estate's production, in return for use of the property they farmed.
When the standard of living of these tenant farmers plummeted and at the end of the War, the Italian government responded to the plight of the tenant farmers who had organized in Unions.
A series of new laws were passed in the late 1950's to 1964 which allowed tenant farmers to buy the land they worked on, at very favorable terms using 30 – 50 year cheap government loans. In 1982 the Mezzadria was officially banned.

Porta Romana - Amelia

La Fontana was owned by a tenant farmer who had bought this property from the Mandosi Barcherini family, as did our neighbour. The farm house is relatively recent, built in mid 15th century. The farm was used mainly for animals (as we have a spring on the property) and the animals could drink at the big fountain below the pool. There was no water other than the spring, so all washing was done in the "Fontana".
In 1984 my mother April was looking for a farm house outside Rome. She found La Fontana in a copy of the Italian equivalent of "Craig's List", or Porta Portese. La Fontana was one of the first she found, and although it was in terrible shape, and had no roof, she immediately saw its potential. The walls were still in reasonable shape, but the house had to be completely rebuilt. She bought the house in 1985 with 3 hectares of land.

La Fontana - Amelia

The Restoration.

Targa Commemorativa

April hired Prince Antonio Ruffo, an architect and a traditionalist who believed that restoration should not alter the true feel of the house.
He and my mother wanted to keep the original "farm house" feel of La Fontana in the restoration. The main problem for the restoration was that the lower level of the house had been used by animals.

The top floor in which humans lived was separated from the lower level.
Antonio convinced my mother to maintain direct access to the garden from all rooms on the lower floor of the house.
This has meant that the house has many steps to join the top floor to the bottom floor.
The pool and the steps were added a year after the house was renovated.
The smallest cottage next to the house used for livestock.
The other two houses were built later so that guests could stay in their own premises.
Now they belong to my sister, and are no longer part of La Fontana.

La Fontana Today.

I try to keep La Fontana as true to the original concept as possible, which was that of a rustic comfortable Italian country home, with an English garden. Every year we upgrade the property in small ways, and most will do with making the garden more livable in as in summer that is where most people spend their time. The furnishings of the house are items collected from travels in many different countries, with many of the paintings coming from Russia as well as from various artist friends of my mother and I.
We hope you enjoy your time in La Fontana, and that you visit the wonderful hill towns of Umbria, Assisi, Spoleto, and my favorite Orvieto. The countryside is wonderful and there are many unspoilt Umbrian towns waiting for a visit, especially is you venture past Norcia and into the Sibillini mountains, a truly wonderful place.
Please feel free to send me comments on any aspect of your stay on click here.



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