Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 107: Green Florence, Casa Bertini
3bed/2bath house near Florence, Tuscany Chianti
June 9 - 16, 2001
We rented the house Casa Bertini for one week, June 9 - 16, 2001. We booked directly with the owner, Andrea Bertini, through his web site.
The house is located in Lastra a Signa, a tiny hamlet at the top of a hill about 20 minutes outside Florence. It is easy to reach via the FI-PI-LI Highway (Firenze, Pisa, Livorno) which heads west from Florence. The house is outside the town. We went to Pisa in less than an hour, to Siena in about an hour and to San Gimignano. in about 30-40 minutes. It was a great location!
The road to the house is very narrow. Along the road are vineyards and olive groves and lovely estates. It definitely is above some of the pervasive smog of the area. It is a pretty area, and we felt more "Italian" than staying in a place closer in to Florence. Last year, we made the mistake in France of being TOO far in the country, so this was perfect.
Next door to the house is a fine dining establishment, called Edy Piu. They are well-known in the Florence area, especially for their grilled meats. We ate there several times, and we had a lot of fun with the owner. In fact, we parked our car in their parking lot and walked up the hill to the house - not a great distance. There is a narrow lane by the house, but maneuvering it in a rental car would be nearly impossible, as the road is quite narrow there. Andrea, our landlord, told us that there was a small grocery store just down the other side of the hill from us, but I am ashamed to admit we never went there. We shopped instead for groceries at an IperCoop in Lastra Signa, a place not unlike Wal-Mart here in the U.S.
The house is historic. Andrea said that parts of it date to the 13th century. It is in excellent shape. I will try and detail the rooms here.
DownstairsLiving Room: There is a good-sized living room with a large fireplace, television and stereo. The room has two comfortable couches, upholstered in a bright red tasteful print. Covering the couches were sheets, which we left on, but I don't think that Andrea would mind anyone removing them. The coffee table was glass topped with several interesting pieces of old pottery inside. There were two end tables with lights, as well as a floor lamp. The living room has no windows of its own - natural light in this room comes from the back patio through French doors via a small mud room. The thick walls made this room cool on even the hottest day we were there. The doors to the outside were huge, thick slabs of wood with wrought iron bar locks as well as modern keys. The room had a several lovely decorative touches, including art on the mantle and walls. It was definitely homey.
Laundry Room: To the back right of the living room is a large laundry room with a washing machine (no dryer). I used it several times, and it worked well. Off the hallway to this room was a bathroom that had a shower on one end. There was no shower curtain since there was a drain in the middle of the floor. The room did not get musty or rank at all in one week, and it was the preferred bathroom of our teenagers, largely because it had a shower and not a tub.
Study/Third Bedroom: The study is off the living room to the left. It doubles as a third bedroom, inasmuch as there is a brass twin bed there. We initially had our daughter there, but she preferred the comfort of another bed in the bedroom upstairs. This room has (in addition to the bed), a desk, an easel with a Santa Fe Opera poster on it, and some other lovely pieces of furniture.
Kitchen: The kitchen is a square room also to the back left of the living room. It has a 6-burner (gas and electric) cook top with a great ventilating hood. There is a working oven beneath that which we even cooked pizza in. There is no dishwasher, but there is a double sink, and dish drain. The pots and pans in the kitchen were lovely heavy gauge stainless steel. All the extras we needed in terms of utensils were there, too. There is a toaster and electric American style coffeepot, although we had some trouble getting it going right.
The room has a marble topped table for prep area as well as a cabinet for utensils. On one wall is an attractive wooden open shelving unit for pans. There was salt, sugar and a few spices there. We left what we bought, as I think others have done. I love to cook, and I was not bereft in this kitchen at all --- I could do a fine job in it. Off to the side of the kitchen was a narrow hallway to the dining room, and in an alcove, there was a small refrigerator. By small, I mean it fit enough for us for a week, but it was smaller than American-sized units ... about five feet tall and about 20" wide. The freezer worked, and there were ice cube trays!
Dining Room: Probably my favorite room downstairs, the dining room had a big fireplace - the same size as the one in the living room. There were French doors from here outside onto a lovely geranium-laden patio. The table was old and probably chestnut or oak - plenty of seating. There was a lovely antique looking wooden china cupboard with plenty of dishes, some of which were really lovely. Glassware was also stored here. The phone for the house is in this room, too, located next to a neat antique wooden bench.
Outside: The house has a long narrow yard. At one end, there is a table and chairs, again with pots of beautiful geraniums all around. There is a lovely view of Florence from here as well as from the other end, which is grassy and has a lawn chair. I loved the herbs growing in pots. The back of the house is covered with vine here. We could hear neighbors, but it was not objectionable. There is a peacock somewhere in the neighborhood that you can hear - likewise some roosters.
UpstairsMaster Bedroom: The master bedroom is very large --- probably 20 x 15 feet. There is a window with an outside shade as well as a pull down screen. We were comfortable at night with just a fan. The bed is very very comfortable, and it is large -- not much different from an American king. It is a four poster, hung attractively with sheets. The bedding was lovely - angel printed sheets and a very attractive bedspread. There was a large bureau in the room as well as a big armoire. Also, a comfortable velvet chair was in the corner. It definitely was not a utilitarian, sparse rental - very homey and nice.
Bath: The upstairs bath was lovely. It was blue tile floor with white walls and white fixtures, including a huge tub with a nice hand-held shower nozzle, a toilet, bidet, and sink. There was a glass-fronted cabinet near the sink that easily held all of our travel toiletries. Towels were lovely with long fringe, and everyone got a different color.
Second Bedroom: Our children had this room. It was a bit smaller than the master, and they had the beds split into twins, but I believe that he also makes it up into a matrimonial sized. The room was darker than the master, but it had lovely furnishings, and was very comfortable. Again, the beds were great!
All of the furniture was in good shape. None of it seemed like something I would want to put in a rental for fear others would ruin it!
Surprises? Well, I think that we were surprised that the house was as nice as it was for the price!
Although the house does not have its own pool, there are "pool privileges" at a nearby agriturismo home down the road about 1/4 mile. We drove by there, but we never could convince our children that it was swimming time. In fact, we were so busy, it was probably just as well.
The owner, Andrea Bertini, is a rep for some agencies. He was VERY good to us, and he gave us lots of advice about where to go and what to do. He is a true gentleman!
Note from SlowTrav: This property does not seem to be represented any longer by Green Florence. You can rent this property through summer leases though: Casa Bertini
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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