Welcome to a New Retreat Location in Northern Italy

ceiling 2

I love it when people have a vision and are passionate about making that vision a reality.  I also love it when people want to preserve old buildings.


Recently, I was told about a really fascinating project that is being driven by a couple’s desire to save an historic building dating back to the late 1700’s in Mossa Santa Maria, Italy. The building is unquestionably beautiful, but it also has a really interesting lineage that has brought it into the hands of two caring individuals who have a plan to restore and preserve the building and to help artists along the way.


Mikelle Standbridge and her husband, Simone, live near by in the small village.  The story behind the building is as intriguing as Mikelle and Simone.

What started as a philanthropic Nobleman’s residence was left to a nun.  The convent used the property as a summer retreat,  but they later gave it to a local church.

another bedroom ceiling

The church has now passed on the property to A.B.C.D’Arte, a non-profit association founded by Mikelle and Simone.

The vision is to offer vacations at the retreat center to individuals in return for a donation to the association (which they call a vacation-donation).   They have planned for 21 donors, broken into three different giving levels.


Honestly, the levels are very affordable and, even without the wonderful opportunity to stay in this nook of an authentic village, are a great way to save an  historic building.

Each of the three giving levels offers not only privileges to stay at the residence but also unique experiences that go along with it.  Tea and pastries with Mikelle and Simone at their nearby villa, an introduction to Italian, and a tour of Mikelle’s photography studio are just some of the fun and unique offerings.


As a former fundraiser, I have seen many appeals for funds through the years, but this one is so special because it is so personal to Mikelle and Simone.  I don’t think I have ever seen a fundraising effort that offered such personal interaction from the fundraising organizers.

The retreat center is designed to host two groups – donors and artists. The donors have their private area of the ‘Nobleman’s Wing,’ and the artists stay in the ‘Artist’s Wing’ but there are common spaces for dining together and conversation.


The concept of the artist retreat reminds me of those that were offered at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Arizona and Cammie Henry’s time at Melrose Plantation on Cane River in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana.  The phrasing from the informational material that Mikelle provided to me defines the facility as a “retreat center for culture and contemporary art.”

The saving of this Italian piece of history seems like a project that many folks will find interesting.


I can’t wait to follow along on the progress.  Plus it gives the donors a great excuse to visit Italy!

I can not adequately describe this project because there are so many components.  Obviously, my interest is in saving an historic building (and that is why I signed up!), but there is an aspect that will appeal to you and your family be it through education, travel, art, etc.

Best wishes to the folks at A.B.C.D’Arte.  I can’t wait to see what wonderful things come from these efforts.

For more information on this project, please contact Mikelle at standonthebridge@yahoo.com

All photographs were taken by Mikelle Standbridge.

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