About Montefiori

Memories at Montefiori

The main and most popular venue, Michelina's is situated adjacent to the Montefiori Falls and pond. This pavilion offers guests magnificent views, a romantic setting and is the perfect choice for any celebration. Featuring two waterfalls, the enclosed pavilion seats up to 300 people. Your guests will be able to relax on one of our four secluded patios near the stream or take a leisurely stroll over the rustic wooden bridge.

Where Memories are Made

Your band or DJ can perform inside the pavilion and project sound throughout the gardens outside. The ambience at Michelina’s lends itself to weddings because of the many beautiful spots for intimate moments and one-of-a kind photos to capture your special day.

Let us help with every aspect of your wedding planning.  Michelina’s provides 5-star menu packages, custom AV and sound, adjacent parking and more.

Our History

Montefiori has been a tradition since 1982, when Paul and Stefano Marchetti hosted Una Festa Campagnola in honor of their father, Giuseppe, who founded Chicago's legendary Como Inn Italian Restaurant in 1924. Montefiori's unique venue has evolved more by chance than by design, bringing to mind Giuseppe's often-repeated phrase, “da la forza del destino,” the force of destiny.

In the late twenties, Giuseppe bought his first acre of land, a steep rocky hillside considered by the farmer who owned it as unsuitable for cultivation. This farming community was then known as Sag Bridge. Near the intersection of routes 83 & 171 at Main Street, there stood three handsome limestone buildings: a one-room schoolhouse with a bell tower, a two-story general store/post office, and a two-story house with an imposing front porch. That's all there was to Sag Bridge, Illinois! Although St. James, the oldest Catholic Church in the county, was within walking distance, the nearest town, Lemont, was five miles away. For the industrious Italian immigrant it was a dream fulfilled; a place in the country reminiscent of his native Tuscany, where he could establish roots and raise a family

At the top of the hill, Giuseppe dug a deep well and built a two-room cottage. He then reshaped the nutrient-rich clay soil into broad terraces, like stair steps. Employing cultivation methods learned as a boy on the Tuscany hillside farmed by his family for generations (methods known today as organic gardening), he improved the dense clay soil one terrace at a time. And so it began, the creation of his country retreat.

By 1933, when Giuseppe married his cashier Yolanda Mucci, his enterprise in the country had already become successful. The terraced land provided the Como Inn with farm-fresh vegetables, while the restaurant supported the land, making his dream possible. Yolanda shared his dream, and she soon became the driving force behind him. Together they found fulfillment of their dream in their work and in its rewards.

Yolanda's mother, Letizia Mucci, also became a significant influence in Giuseppe's life. She bestowed upon him a wealth of knowledge of “la vera cucina Toscana,” the subtleties of seasoning in the preparation of food and style in its presentation. She had learned all this in the hill towns of Tuscany at the turn of the century. Both the preparation and style were elegant in their simplicity, yet nutritious, wholesome, and joyously delicious!

While Giuseppe and Yolanda managed the restaurant in the city with enthusiastic devotion to their work and one another, Letizia, eventually known simply as "Nonna," managed the house in the country as if she were still living in 19th century Italy. She spoke an archaic Tuscan dialect with authority, rarely resorting to English. It was an Italian household, and her kitchen was its heart. She was an excellent cook and tended her own garden, growing wonders from seeds shipped from her sisters who still lived in Cozille, the ancient walled town of their birth, high in the hills above Lucca.

As Giuseppe's family grew, so did the “house in the country,” with room additions in every direction. He had acquired land upon which he began construction on a larger house when WWII forced a delay in his plans. The family's residence was an apartment above the restaurant in the city until 1949 when the “big house in the country” was fi nally fi nished. The space presently occupied by the main pavilion was a fruit orchard at that time. Other than an ancient oak tree that shaded the cottage and a wild cherry tree near the well, no other trees, lawns, or fl owers existed until the end of the war. When the farmer who leased the fields retired, the last seeds sown were of native grasses, and with the arrival of spring, the fi elds would transform into beautiful meadows. Giuseppeʼs frugal mindset, however, did not allow him to feel comfortable owning 28 acres of nonproductive land. Thus, he planted thousands of seedlings of various pines and hardwoods throughout the meadows. As the seedlings grew into young trees and the meadows matured, native wildflowers began to appear in masses and with them butterflies and songbirds.

By the mid-fifties, Yolanda was happy to at last be living in the country, and early morning walks in the meadows and through the woods became one of her favorite pastimes. Yolanda's resourcefulness and innate sense of style made their gracious lifestyle possible. “Make do with what you have,” Giuseppe would say. But Yolanda's way was to make the most of what she had, and she did so effortlessly. She was not an avid gardener, but she grew fabulous roses and magnificent peonies. She was not a proficient cook, but she was a superb hostess and a brilliant businesswoman. She was not necessarily thrifty but was generous with her resources, generating progress and priceless goodwill with every endeavor. Under her direction the restaurant soared to greater success, and “the house in the country” became the gracious place it is today. Her charming verve and determined enthusiasm, tempered by her mother's Tuscan toughness, perfectly complemented Giuseppe's courageous vision. They were a formidable team!

When Yolanda turned her attention to landscaping, Giuseppe executed her designs with enthusiasm but with one reservation. He believed that too many trees in the landscape would smother the refreshing summer breezes that swept across the meadow from the south. The house was landscaped in the fashion of the time with clipped yews and small areas of lawn defined by rose-colored cement walks. Ever-blooming climbing roses were planted on the south-facing walls, and peonies were planted along the drive

Although the restaurant in Chicago demanded most of their attention, Giuseppe and Yolanda managed to spend enough time at their country retreat to enjoy its pastoral ambiance and to share it graciously. On Sundays Nonna would ring the dinner bell at noon, calling everyone to the table from their game of bocce or from their walk in the woods. Then “al tocco,” at the stroke of one, all would enjoy “un bel pranzo al fresco,” a fine lunch at tables set in the orchard, which had become the principle feature of the landscape. After years of pruning in the Italian manner, open in the center with low, wide-spreading limbs, the trees were quite impressive! Not only did they produce beautiful fruit and attract birds by the thousands, they created a delightful shade environment. Under their canopy, the air was always cool and fragrant and the flattering dappled light inviting. The orchard became the summer “salotto,” the preferred location where meals were taken and guests were welcomed, often greeted by Giuseppe who could be found happily sitting under a cherry tree, enjoying the summer breeze. He often reminisced about the taste of peaches in red wine shared with a departed friend or loved one. “Benvenutti,” he would say with a broad gesture of welcome. Then, with his eyes closed, he would admonish, “Si deve godere la vita!” We must savor life!

Montefiori became a reality as a venue when Stefano, director of Como Inn's off-premise catering, produced a black-tie dinner party “out in the country” for a client who wanted to surprise her husband with something extraordinary on his 40th birthday. Knowing that the tent to be used Saturday night would not be dismantled until Monday, Stefano planned to use it Sunday for a celebration of country life, honoring his father. With a few bold strokes, Stefano transformed Saturday's ballroom into Sunday's Italian market, and Montefiori (mountain of flowers) was born! Una Festa Campagnola was so well received that Stefano produced another, La Festa del Giglio. Others followed, each a smashing success. They generated major interest and good will, resulting in newsworthy editorial features in both of Chicago's major newspapers, giving Montefiori a face, and a handsome face at that!

In 2005, Stefano Marchetti retired and passed on his family's legacy to the award-winning property development firm, Lifescapes Development LLC. Realizing that Lifescapes shared Giuseppe's original vision, with plans to improve upon it and carry it to the next level, Stefano was comfortable with his decision, believing his parents would feel that the sale was meant to be, once again reinforcing his father's phrase, “da la forza del destino.” The Montefiori grounds are in the process of being enhanced with gently flowing creeks, lush waterfalls, secluded walking paths, private seating areas, spectacular gardens, and cozy outdoor fireplaces. The original trees, vegetation, and meadows remain intact. Staying ever mindful of Giuseppe and Yolanda's original dream, Lifescapes intends to maintain the Montefiori tradition for generations to come.