Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1078: Villa Palagi, Apartment
apartments on an estate outside of Florence, Tuscany Chianti
2004, 7 nights
Villa Palagi is an estate in the Tuscan hills above the Certosa (a large stone monastery), with views of Florence and the Duomo from this spot south of the city. The owners, the glamorous Piccini family, have converted some small stone buildings on the property into apartments. We stayed in the largest, a two bedroom, with eat-in kitchen and sweeping views of Florence and the Tuscan hills. The setting is wonderful, quiet and sublime.
The Villa is up the road (a narrow, winding road not for timid drivers) from the small village of Bottai, which has two or three restaurants (decent local cuisine) and a small shop. Florence is only 15 - 20 minutes by car, and there are several other larger villages within 5 - 10 minute drive from the Villa, with street metered parking (save your coins), and good grocery shops, wine shops and local markets. We shopped at these local shops for fabulous fresh pasta, local cheese, prosciutto and bread; local markets for fruits and vegetables.
The Villa itself is over 100 years old, the buildings which house apartments probably the same, with renovations over the years. The large apartment was in good working order, with all amenities. I believe there are 3 or 4 apartments on the property. Heat is not operational in May, so Mrs. Piccini brought us space heaters for a cold night in early May.
Lovely outside setting; our apartment had its own small garden, but guests are free to use all of the grounds. There is a pool with views of Florence from the hills. Iris seem to grow wild, there are some citrus trees, lots of grass.
Apartment was nicely decorated with some antiques; furniture was comfortable, with couch and chairs in the living room. Very comfortable apartment (not super luxurious, but relaxing and comfortable).
The master bedroom had a queen sized bed which was comfortable, and was nicely decorated. The smaller bedroom had bunk-beds (good for kids), which was servicable. One bathroom, which was serviceable, tub rigged for shower with shower curtain. Everything was clean and comfortable. There were enough blankets, sheets and towels.
The eat-in kitchen had a table with four chairs. Kitchen was serviceable with pots and pans, sufficient for the cooking of simple meals. Quality was fine, but I'm not sure a full, complex meal would be easy to prepare. Ask for directions on how to use the stove. There is a washing machine available for use by guests, but make sure Mrs. Piccini shows you how to use it; we (including the maid at the Villa, who kindly washed our clothes in the main house laundry room for us) couldn't figure out how to work the machines. Clothes dry outdoors on clothes lines.
Problems or Bonuses
If you are willing to drive up a narrow, winding road, you will be rewarded with the wonderful views from the Tuscan hills. You can enjoy the delights of Florence, but stay in a beautiful, quiet setting and take off for day trips to Siena and other hillside towns in Tuscany.
Your hostess could not be more charming; she has a shop on the Ponte Vecchio and you can always stop into the shop during the day with any questions you may have.
Get good driving directions to arrive at the Villa; our hostess sent us directions by email (with photos of major intersection points!), which helped immensely. Usually rented by the week, from Saturday to Saturday, check with the owners to make other arrangements.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked with one of the agencies that advertise on the internet, but had great difficulty communicating by email and phone. There was great confusion about the dates we requested, payment of the deposit, cancellation policy, etc. These apartments appear to be listed on a couple of websites with listings for Tuscany. Eventually, we corresponded directly with the owner, which I recommend. Her English is passable; she also has staff at the shop with good English skills.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would definitely recommend this apartment and would visit again. We really liked our hosts and felt very cared for -- had a great experience. In May of 2004, we paid Euro 1,250 for seven nights. You will need to send money for the deposit, the owner does not accept credit cards; we mailed a California check (not at a good exchange rate, but it worked easily), or you can wire the money for the deposit.
Things to do in this area
Florence is about 15 - 20 minutes by car from the Villa. You can park your rental car in a metered lot right outside the city gates (you will be on the Altra-Arno, near the Pitti Palace). You can pay at the meter for up to 24 hours, just make sure you have enough coins (save those Euro coins!); it seemed to cost 2 Euros for the first hour or so, and then 1 Euro for each hour thereafter. We simply walked into the center of the city across the Ponte Vecchio (15 minutes), but you can get on the bus if you don't want to walk.
The museums in Florence take reservations now (check the internet) -- highly recommended for the Uffizzi (where there is always a line), and the Accademia. You can easily drive to other sites in Tuscanny for the day.
For gelato, we recommend Gelateria Carabe, via Ricasoli 60/r (near the Accademia). For lunch or dinner in Florence (make a reservation), we loved Trattoria Angiolino, via S. Spirito 36/r (055-239-8976)not far from the Pitti Palace, and we enjoyed Ristorante La Maremme, Via Verde 16/r (055-244-615) behind Santa Croce.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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