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Review 1065: Owner, Il Rifugio


Review by Barbara (and Art) from Italy who is a SlowTrav Contributor

4-5bed/4.5bath house near Cortona, Tuscany East


August 22-28, 2004, 1 week


Il Rifugio sits on the Tuscany/Umbria border, just outside of Cortona. The nearest small town was Montanare, which has a Post Office and a small grocery store.

The setting is fabulous ... up a winding road through olive groves, and the house itself has wonderful views of the beautiful hills (reminding us of Umbria!) and GREAT sunset views!

Since the house is rented out as one unit, it's totally private ... unless your traveling companions happen to be rowdy, you won't hear a sound!

Nearby Amenities

A car is necessary to stay at Il Rifugio. The road up to the house is long, and farily steep. The nearest grocery is just down the main road a bit, and there are plenty of shops/markets/big Coop in nearby Camucia, about 5 minutes away. Plenty of local restaurants ... in many of the tiny places of this area, as well as Camucia, Cortona, Castiglione di Fiorentino, etc.

The House/Apartment

A fantastic 300 year old stone farmhouse ... beamed ceilings, stone walls inside and out, huge (working) fireplaces in several rooms, including the kitchen. An outdoor pizza oven is also available. The main house has 4 bedrooms, 2 ensuite.

The small out-building just outside the kitchen door houses not only the washing machine/ironing area, but also another double bedroom w/full bath.

The house is in perfect condition and is beautifully furnished and equipped.


The terrace is huge, with three separate areas for sitting and dining. One of these areas is covered. The terrace has shady and sunny areas. The terrace faces west for great sunset views and great star-gazing. As previously mentioned, the house is rented as a whole, so the only people you have to share it with are your travelling companions.

No pool yet, but the owner has appled to have one installed.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

Beautiful furniture ... a nice mix of antiques and newer furniture, all in good condition. Plenty of chairs both inside and out. Everything was immaculate!


All the mattreses are new, and our bed was very comfortable. Extra pillows and blankets were in our closet, as were plenty of hangers. A fan and space heater (in addition to the radiator) were supplied. Plenty of storage space for our clothes.

Our bathrooms was spacious and clean. It had a LARGE shower, and a small shelf beside the sink was handy for all the things I can never find a place for ... make-up, contact lens solution, curling iron, etc. A blow dryer was supplied for each bathroom. Big fluffy bath towels and wash clothes were our first clue that the owner was an American!


GREAT kitchen! Huge!!! Spacious!! But still warm and inviting! This is a great kitchen for cooking, which is why our teacher, Carmelita, rents it for her cooking school several times a year! www.cookitaly.com

There is a huge stove with 4 burners and a center grill, plenty of counter-space, including a center work island, and almost every kitchen utensil and gadget you would ever want or need! A large refirgerator in the separate pantry held more than enough food for the 5 of us.

There are plenty of dishes and glasses of every type, 2 tables for eating in the kitchen, as well as a separate dining room with yet another huge table. and of course, as mentioned previously, there are several tables on the terrace for eating al fresco!

Problems or Bonuses

Just a wonderful house. Since we had previously been to Cortona, we were surprised by the beautiful view! Cortona sits up on a hill but just overlooks a flat plain ... rather boring, in our opinion. Because Il Rifugio is on a hill a few kilometers outside of Cortona, it has views of the surrounding hillsides ... very beautiful, pleasant and relaxing.

There is a clothesline for hanging clothes, and I think there's also a dryer, but since we didn't wash any clothes, I'm not sure. I'm sure the website lists all the details. There is no A/C, of course, but we had wonderful breezes and fan are supplied in every bedroom, and also in the kitchen.

The owner has assembled a book with instructions for every item in the house, from the stove to the DVD player. Local transportation information is given, local restaurants are listed, as well as ideas for things to do in the area.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

Since our stay was a prize (Slow Travel Third Anniversary Contest), we didn't pay anything. The prices for the house rental are listed on the Il Refugio website, and prices for Carmelita's cooking school are listed on her site, both listed above. The onsite person, Terry, is an American girl who has lived in Italy for several years. She's fluent in Italian, and although we had Carmelita to act as our agent, if the house were to be rented by a group or family, I have no doubt that Terry would be able to handle any requests with ease.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

Absolutely yes!!!! The lack of pool didn't bother us at all ... the tranquil location was so enjoyable! For a large family or group of people looking for a wonderful setting, Il Refugio would be great.

The owners of Il Rifugio also have their own olive oil and wine available for sale.

Things to do in this area

We drove to Castiglione del Lago one day and took a boat ride on Lago Tresimeno, one day we drove to Lucignano, a quaint hill town, and one day we took the train to Florence. The other couple who took the cooking class with us travelled to Cortona one day, and into Umbria to visit Deruta, Assisi, Perugia. They also drove to San Feliciasno to buy some of the olive oil that's produced there.

We had dinner at a fabulous restaurant in Castiglione d. Fiorentino one night, but I don't remember the name ... if you go there, ask around ... this place is the sort of place you just don't want to share with too many people, otherwise it might become TOO popular!

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

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