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Review 1042: Umbrian Garden, Il Gelso


Review by metaherb from VA

5bed/5bath house near Todi, Umbria


June 12 - 26, 2004, 14 days


Il Gelso is well located about 7 minutes south of Todi, overlooking Todi and the Tiber (Tevere) valley. Very private - the owner's house is nearby but is not intrusive. Very peaceful, with good accessibility to Orvieto (A1), as well as towns up and down the Umbrian valley (Assisi, Spoleto, etc.). Paved road to the house (this is our 4th rental in Italy and most require some driving on a "strada bianca" - but not this one). The house is surrounded by olive trees, with vineyards nearby. It was just the perfect location for day trips (Arezzo, Montelpulciano, Pienza, Rome - all were less than a couple of hours).

Nearby Amenities

Nothing is walkable for groceries, supplies or dining. But everything is a short drive away (less than 10 minutes). Plenty of options (4-5 supermarkets, consortium for meat, a good number of fine restaurants within 10-30 minutes). With 2 small children (ages 2 and 5), we like to eat breakfast at the house, lunch out someplace, then dinner back at the house.

The House/Apartment

The house itself was essentially "moved" a few meters from its original location when it was rebuilt in 1996. For all intents and purposes, although the house looks "old" it is really only 8 years old. The property was bought and developed by a prominent British architect and his Italian wife in the 1990's (they live nearby) and it has been laid out very functionally.

The house contains 2 kitchens, 2 living/sitting/dining rooms, 4 bedrooms each with its own bath, plus 2 half-baths. The house is designed to be "divided" in half for smaller groups if needed. There is also a cottage with a kitchen, bedroom, sitting room and bath for 2 more people. This property works very, very well for any size group up to 10 people. Everything is in top-notch shape and the amenities (well-stocked kitchens, linens, towels, robes, etc.) are terrific. We really liked the entrance piazza with its olive tree, and the terraces around 2 sides of the house -- we would eat breakfast on those.


Very private house, with lots of outside sitting areas and good furniture. The pool was great, with large rocks/garden sitting it off nicely. Everything is well-maintained and cared for.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

The house was immaculate, and everything is in good shape. Plenty of seating for everyone at meals, around the fireplaces, etc.


The beds were comfortable and large (compared to most european beds we've encountered -- there is a king-sized bed in one of the master bedrooms). Bathrooms were clean and well-designed. They included hair-dryers! Good water pressure and we never ran out of hot water.


There are actually 2 kitchens in this house and we used both. They each had top quality cooktops/ovens and included dishwashers. Refridgerators were of good size. Good quality pots, pans, knives, dishes, utensiles, etc. Plenty of everything. The owners are great cooks and know what is needed in a kitchen.

Problems or Bonuses

The only real surprise was just how nice this place was. We considered about 12 different properties for this trip, and we are so glad we chose this one. It is by far the nicest house we've ever rented in Italy. We would come back. With 2 small children, we are very particular on layout of the house and grounds - but this met all our needs. We had various friends come by to stay a few days (the most we had at one time was 9 people), and everyone loved it. Another nice surprise was being invited to the owner's house for cocktails one evening, then we happened to have them (Michael and Gabriella) over for dinner on our last night and had a great time. Very lovely people.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

The agency was great -- they were very, very flexible and accommodating. Kimberly from Umbrian Garden (the local representative in Todi) is American. They did some pre-shopping for us (since we were arriving at an odd time) and had the kitchen stocked and lasagna ready to eat! We stayed the last 2 weeks in June (2004) and the rate was about $3000 per week.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

We would stay here again, and we recommend this house to anyone without reservation.

Things to do in this area

This house is near Todi, and I don't think I can add much to the information for this area that is already on the Slow Travel web site.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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