Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1120: Colle Lungo, Leocorno
apartments on an estate near Castelina, Tuscany Chianti
Sept 20 - 27, 2004, 1 week
We stayed, with another couple, in Sept 04, and loved the location. Our apartment was called "leocorno", which I think means unicorn. It was directly across from the shared common room/bar/drop off for morning croissants, which meant that it was not as private as other apartments. It also had an outside sitting area, which was right on the main steps to the common room, pool, bbq area, etc., so not the most private. That was, however, the only drawback.
The location is very conventient to many local sights (although if you go into Florence, DO NOT follow the hosts suggestion of parking under the train station - park at the city walls, and walk in - it will save you over an hour in rush hour traffic). The decoration of the rooms is plain, but the bedrooms are very comfortable, and the bathrooms very clean and spacious. The living room furniture is a bit small for 4, but you are unlikely to spend much time there anyway.
There is reasonable grocery shopping in Castelina, but you will likely get more choice in Greve, or some of the other local towns on market day. The views are nice, but the "possible" walk to town is a killer, and should only be undertaken by the nimble and hearty.
What we enjoyed the most was the hospitality. Gabrielle, and her husband Marco, are on sight 6 days a week, and really provide all the services that a hotel concierge would offer. She made reservations for galleries in Florence for us, which involved many long telephone calls, as well as restaurant reservations. She had good advice on local markets, restaurants, drives, and where to go for train tickets. Plus, the house wine is fabulous, and the fact that we could just step across the alleyway to the wine cellar (honour bar style) probably meant that we drank far more wine than we would otherwise.
The pool area is very nice and peaceful, but in September the water is FREEZING! There is also a great barbeque area, with lots of wood to start the fire, and we enjoyed 2 barbeque dinners there. While I commented on the lack of privacy in the outdoor sitting area, there is a lovely covered dining area by the barbeque, and there is also a covered sitting area above the pool, (which is down a small hill), which is good for reading if its too hot to sit in the sun. The other guests are friendly, and meeting them in the common room when choosing wine, or getting the croissants that can be ordered every morning but Sunday was nice.
I would definitely recommend it, but be aware that there is a 1 km twisty gravel road from the main road, (not treacherous, just slow), and there are lots of stairs at Colle Lungo, so for the elderly, or handicapped, this might be an issue. The setting is lovely - no big vistas like in some parts of Tuscany, but very pretty, especially in the evening.
I did walk into town once, but would not recommend it. The walk is through fields, woods, over a small stream, and up and down some challenging hills. It is especially hard carrying groceries, which I did, even more so since you will likely be swatting at mosquitoes and bigger flying bugs at the same time. Also, don't try, as my sister did, to walk in the dark - you will most likely get lost.
Nearest grocery, and lots of choice for restaurants and gelato is Castellina, which is only a 5-7 minute drive. There is a small co-op store, several "green" grocers, at least one butcher, and a store selling good bread. Also, many, many wine stores.
There are a serious of buildings, on either side of steps coming down a slope, which have been converted into apartments. Our's was on the ground floor, but there are others on the second floor, and at least one 2 storey unit. I think there are about 9 units in total. The buildings are all in good shape, probably converted from farm buildings - soft yellow stone on the outside, tile floors, comfortable beds, reasonably well equipped kitchens (making coffee for 4 was a bit of challenge), and large and very clean bathrooms.
See above. Many outside sitting areas, some more private than others. Nice pool area, with separte seating, lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas.
See above. All furnishings clean, reasonably new, in good shape. Simple design (sort of like my rec room furniture). Everything is very tidy.
Beds were comfortable, although "Italian style" king size beds, eg, twin beds together. One bathroom had a shower, bidet, toilet and sink, and the other had bath/shower, toilet, bidet and sink. Good lighting, and towels were changed mid-week, which was a surprise.
Adequate set up in kitchen. Ovens are not hooked up, but 4 working burners. No microwave, but we ate very well with the set up, and there is no shortage of pots, pans, plates, glasses, etc. Also, the laundry room has extras if you run short.
Problems or Bonuses
The biggest surprise was the onsite help from Gabriella, who is enormously helpful. She is not the owner, and I hope the owners treat her well - she really made a difference for us.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Booked through owner. They were very patient with many changes in dates, numbers and length of stay.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes. See comments above.
Things to do in this area
Tons to do. Visit Florence (it might be easier to stay there a couple of days, since driving in and out was a challenge), Siena, but mostly the little towns -Radda, Castellina, Montereggiano, Montalcino, San Gimigniano, Greve, on market day, Pieve, etc.
There are a number of recommended drives suggested in the welcome guide. We took several, and the scenery, especially south of Siena, in the Crete area, is unbelivable. If I was to go again, I wouldn't be so shy about going to local wine festivals. We passed a couple, but don't know enough Italian, and I think we missed a fun opportunity to see a town fair. Maybe next time. Driving takes a lot longer than you will expect, so don't try to do too much - 20 kms. can easily take an hour.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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