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Review 1043: Le Maribelle, Le Maribelle 2

www.lemaribelle.it

Recommended
Review by sarahnwalker from WA & Germany

1bed/1bath apartment in Monticchiello, Tuscany South


When

July 10-17, 2004, 1 week

Location

This small but cozy apartment is located on the bottom floor of a two-storey building. There is a larger flat for rent upstairs. It has a private entry and is located on a small street less than one minute from the town gate to Montichiello, so right in the heart of the medieval town. The small street comes to a square end, so there is room in front of the building for about 6 cars - quite convenient for you if you have one. There is a nice terrace in the back which is the edge of the town. You have a view onto orchards. Although the building is butted up to other ones, you feel like you are almost alone among grass, trees and the setting sun.

It was very peaceful and more or less quiet. We did hear a young child in one of the neighbor houses and, on occasion, a light sound of footsteps above. I was not disturbed by such sounds. And while there is a small road out front with parking, we never heard cars at all while inside or on the terrace out back. The town itself is not only charming, it is beautiful. We found the locals to be extremely friendly, welcoming and helpful. Overall we were very excited to be in Montichiello and not at all disappointed by the choice.

Nearby Amenities

You can easily walk to one of the two or three restaurant/bars in town, one of which being La Porta (see other peoples` reviews), which is a superb place to have a coffee and cornetto in the morning on the terrace (or ice cream after a daytrip!). Many locals from Pienza and Montepulciano make the trip up to Montichiello to have dinner there. We are, in fact, just up the street from said restaurants.

Supposedly there is a small Alimentari just beyond the main gate, but we never managed to find it, despite receiving directions from two locals. That was not a problem for us, however (more a mystery than anything). We drove to Pienza, which is about 10 minutes away and did our shopping in the various supermarkets (such as COOP) which lie outside the old center and right off the road that leads into town from Montichiello.

There is a telephone booth about three small curvy blocks from the apartment.

The House/Apartment

This is a very old building. It is a classic Tuscan stone structure, recently restored and reconverted into two apartments, each with their own separate entrance and outdoor area. Our flat was the ground floor one, which, according to Barbara, was the former stall for donkeys and other animals. You would never know it now, but there are some original wood beams and cutouts that hint towards previous use. The walls are thick, so the place is cool and quiet.

The best part (everything was great, though) was the furnishings. Barbara's family put a lot of thought and care into the restoration and interior. Everything, except the antiques, of course, is only about two years old and in good repair. The kitchen had beautiful stone/granite? countertops and a nice wide sink. Plenty of space to prepare food and most all the kitchen equipment you would need. The bathroom is nice porcelain, the furniture is mostly antique, stemming from a store in Sovana (I learned this from Barbara after raving about that town). The linens (bedclothes, towels and curtains) are of high quality and are lovely. We felt very at home and a bit spoiled, even, because some of these items seemed very unique and special. As said above, there is one apartment above, which has its own entrance, but which is larger and also featured on the Le Maribelle website.

Garden

The outdoor area was probably about 6 feet deep by ten feet wide (?). It was more than sufficient for the two of us. The table is wrought iron with a marble top. The two matching chairs have cushions. There is one other chair near the plants which is a wooden picnic-style chair. There were flowers for a nice added touch and a very fancy, good quality umbrella, which we did not end up needing. The terrace is private and has low walls (waist high) enclosing it. We never saw anyone but two lizards and a couple of cats. The sunsets are gorgeous. It is a very relaxing and potentially romantic place to have dinner.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

The furnishings consisted of new (2 years old) furniture and many beautiful wood antiques, including a lovely mirror, sideboards, chests and a women's make-up stand with chair. They were not only comfortable and solid, but stylish. There were plenty of seats to choose from, whether outside on the terrace (3-4 of two styles), in the bedroom (2), in the kitchen (2 plush chairs and benches).

The apartment was very clean. As cleanliness is a priority for my peace of mind, I can assure you that this aspect should not be an issue at Le Maribelle. This was perfectly clean. Not a hair on the bathroom floor, no grime in the kitchen. You can walk barefoot in there and not regret it!

Bedrooms/Bathrooms

There is one large, wrought iron queen size bed. I found it to be quite comfortable. There were extra linens in one of the (beautiful) wooden closets, so we were able to add or remove weight and cover as we pleased. There is also a small stereo in the bedroom, so it is possible to listen to music.

The bathroom was fantastic. Although there could be a larger stand next to the sink to put toiletries, we were very satisfied. The porcelain is good quality and shiny new. No difficulties with the plumbing either. The shower head has two or three streams of spray that spray up backwards, thus wetting the wall above the shower a bit. From what I could see, it doesn't seem to be affecting the paint nor the stone underneath.

Kitchen

Yes, the kitchen is well-equipped. We did not find a can opener, so we bought one in Pienza and left it there. The pots and pans were of good quality, thank goodness, and I cooked full meals on at least three occasions. We also tended to eat our breakfast there, so we made coffee, tea (there is a good teapot), toast in the tramezzini/panini grill and had the refrigerator and counters well stocked with food. The sink is really great. I imagine it is traditional Tuscan style, but the large size was really convenient.

Problems or Bonuses

I was surprised at just how lovely this town and area is. I had heard, seen, read... etc. But it is really a spectacular part of Europe. I think Montichiello is better than Pienza and Montepulciano, as a base. You can enter the town with your car and park near your place, walk everywhere, get a real feel for all the little nooks and crannies, and then be glad that there are far fewer tourists to bump into while doing it.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

The photo gallery on the website is 100% accurate. You will not be surprised upon arrival there. You can read about the furnishings. They are of high quality, and you won't be disappointed.

Barbara was absolutely lovely - what a charming and interesting person. We enjoyed talking with her the two times we saw her. She has very good taste and is quite an easy person to deal with. She is also very welcoming, open and enjoys meeting people from other countries. Her English is quite good.

While researching, I wasn't sure about the place. It seemed too perfect for me and my mom and the price too reasonable (520 Euro, July, high season, no other fees). I thought that there must be a catch. After asking Pauline for advice, I asked Barbara (the owner) for reviews. She was willing to put me in contact with previous (and repeat) guests. When I got the email, however, I was only given a list of names and no contact information. So I really thought she was trying to avoid giving this information. Actually I was wrong, and she just didn't know how to insert that information into the email. She then had an American woman contact me, who was very positive about Le Maribelle and explained why she was returning for her third time (for a whole month). I was convinced at that point and having now been there myself, I can understand why this woman felt compelled to come back.

In the flat there is a book with comments from past guests. Plenty of people have stayed there, some even have returned, and there are many very generous and positive reviews in this book.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

I wholeheartedly recommend Le Maribelle 2. I would return there in a second. I was debating which town to stay in before my trip, and I was unsure whether Montichiello would be big enough to be convenient for me and my mom. I fell in love with the town. It is darling and the landscape around it is paradise. This is the center of Cypress roads leading up and down golden hills sprinkled with hay rolls and teeming with singing crickets. Montichiello is such a pleasant town, a perfect place to take an early evening stroll. Le Maribelle is just as charming.

Things to do in this area

There is far too much to do... But here are the things more or less that we did. I would even suggest going for more walks or bike rides, but probably not in the heat of summer...

Shop for fun food: Pienza, Montalcino (great cheese, pasta, biscotti...)

Visit beautiful hill towns nearby: Pienza, Montepulciano, San Quirico d'Orcia, Montalcino, Buonconvento, etc..

Visit towns a bit further out: Siena, Cortona, Chiusi, Pitigliano, Sovana, Sorano, Roccalbegna, (Monte Amiata towns), Montemerano, Castiglione d'Orcia, Semproniano....

Climb up to fortresses in many towns and look out over the countryside: Castiglione d'Orcia, Rocca d'Orcia, Radicófani, Roccalbegna....

See and test out the thermal baths: Bagno Vignoni, Saturnia, Bagno San Filippi, Chianciano Terme

Search out Etruscan Burial Sites and Roads: (near) Cortona, Chiusi, Pitigliano/Sovana, etc..

Visit the abbeys and cloisters: Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Sant'Antimo, Santa Anna

Go wine tasting: all over! Montepulciano/Montalcino, especially.

Eat well: all over!!

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

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