Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 125: Owner, Villa Luciano
7bed/6bath villa in Londa, Tuscany North
June 2001, 1 week
For my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary in June, my brothers and I went with them and our spouses (12 adults total) to Tuscany and stayed for one week at Villa Luciano. I can’t remember how I originally found out about the villa, but we rented it through its website.
It was a beautiful place to stay, and we had a great time. The villa is located in Londa, which is a 35-minute drive northeast of Florence. This was the only villa we found which was big enough for our group and also walking distance to a town. We loved being able to walk into town, especially for morning coffee and dinner. We didn’t relish the idea of driving the winding roads after consuming all that good local Chianti! (I refer to dinners, not breakfasts.)
The villa was very clean, well equipped, and had plenty of room for all of us. It has the charm of the 18th century villa it is, with beautiful grounds and views; but also has modern bathrooms and kitchens (2!). The kitchens had everything we needed, including a microwave, plenty of pots and pans, and staples such as salt, pepper, sugar. The refrigerators were small, but we had two of them. There was also a small washing machine in the basement, although no dryer.
The bedrooms varied in size, and there was one very small one we didn’t need to use. They were comfortable, but in some of them we had to be creative about putting away our clothes. Also, some did not have a bedside table for eyeglasses, clock, or book. The beds were fine, although my mattress was a little lumpy. Some couples shared a bathroom, but I think there were 5 bathrooms, plus toilets on the main floor and in the basement.
We had a gorgeous dining room with large, arched windows, and a great patio with table and chairs. There was also a very pleasant pool, which was refreshing on hot days. There were lots of pots around with flowers, and jasmine grew around the doorway, and smelled heavenly! There was also a cat who lived there. He obviously expected to be fed, but never came inside the house.
The grounds were beautiful, and quite large. There was a formal hedge garden, and some terraced lawn areas, including what looked like a lawn for playing bocce. There was a wooded area going uphill behind the pool. We had enough seating outside for all 12 of us, and there were chairs and an umbrella table at the pool. We were not far from other houses, but it was very private. The way it's situated on a hill allows it to be close to other houses, but feel very private. We often heard cars beeping as they came around the hairpin curve in front of the house, but it wasn't a problem. There was also parking available for our 3 rental cars.
The town of Londa is very convenient to Florence, although a bit of a drive to often-visited towns such as Siena, San Gimignano, and Cortona. In order to go to Florence, we drove to a train station 5 minutes away, and then took a 35-minute train ride. There were interesting towns nearby, although we felt we couldn't miss places like Siena, Arezzo, and the Chiantigiana, so we didn't explore as much nearby. We did visit the Nippozzano winery near Pontassieve. (I hope my spellings are right!) That was nearby, and a great side trip! Of course being 35 minutes from Florence was great too.
Londa is a smallish town with some interesting shops, at least 2 cafes, and couple of restaurants we really liked. We especially liked Roberta e Carlo, which was just at the bottom of the hill we walked down to get into town. People were friendly everywhere, but not many people spoke English. Here is a website for the town: www.terraditoscana.com
One thing that may be important for people to know is the villa is uphill from the town. We loved walking to and from town, and my parents in their seventies were able to make the walk, but one in our party had a heart condition which made the steep hills difficult for her. The villa had 4 floors, and as soon as we walked into the house we faced a long staircase. We also had to walk uphill to reach the pool. By the same token, driving was not always easy on the narrow, winding roads in rented cars with standard transmission. However, the steepness also gave us beautiful views of the town and surrounding hills.
There was a local caretaker who showed us around and was available for help and questions. She worked in an office next door, and was very pleasant, but we did have some trouble understanding each other. Checkin and checkout was all done with the caretaker.
We did have one disappointment. We were hoping to hire a local person to cook simple dinners for us. We had to arrange this through the caretaker. We did this one night and paid $60 per hour (it took her 4 hours), plus the cost of the food. It was fun to eat together in our beautiful dining room, and the food was good, but it cost us more than what we would pay in the nearby restaurant where everyone could order what they wanted. (We also did our own final cleanup, though the cook cleaned up the cooking mess.) We wondered how much of that $60 per hour the cook actually receives. We decided not to do that again.
One other minor problem was that apparently blackouts are quite common. They had emergency lighting, and I was either asleep or gone both times the electricity went out, but it did happen to us. We were able to flip some circuit breakers and get it on again.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience for all of us. We loved being together in this fantastic setting, and we highly recommend Villa Luciano.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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