Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1252: ABV-Arte del BenVivere , Borgo Scopeto Fornacino
apartments in Vagliagli, Tuscany Chianti
November 6 - 13, 2004, 1 week
It is located in a beautiful area on top of a hill. We could see Siena a few kilometers away and another estate was located on the next hill, but far enough away not to be of concern. The facility was set in the middle of the olive orchards and vineyards.
The complex is 3-1/2 km off the main road on a good quality gravel road. Vagliagli was about 4 km from the apartments. There was a small grocery store, a bar and a restaurant. Also, the ABV Italia office is located there, so we got to meet the person I had been communicating with -- Martina.
The Saturday afternoon we arrived nobody was in the office, so I called the emergency number shown on my rental agreement. I thought that the woman who answered the phone was a bit distracted and rather curt. She cut me off and I had to call back again. When I met Martina at the office, she said everybody was out helping with the olive harvest and it was very, very cold. She was up in an olive tree and the emergency number was her cell phone. When she tried to get to her phone, she was indeed very distracted and dropped the phone. We all got a good laugh out of that.
We stayed in the "Lisa" apartment in a building with 3 (I think) other apartments. The second building had 2 or 3 apartments. When we were there, we were the only guests, so I'm not sure how noisy it would be with other guests there. The handyman was in the apartment upstairs making repairs, and it was fairly noisy, but maybe he was making more noise than renters would.
There were 2 buildings. The one we stayed in was 2-storey and fairly new. Everything was in excellent condition.
A swimming pool is located down a grade from the main houses and an open building with a table tennis setup and the pizza oven was in front of our building. The courtyard area was paved with brick and there was outdoor furniture stored in the pool table area. When we were there, it had turned rather chilly - in fact, one morning it was 1 degree below freezing - so we didn't sit around outside. We walked around the area, which is very expansive, so I think that in the summer time it would be very pleasant.
The furniture was in good condition and comfortable. The apartment was very clean. We were three, but the apartment could accommodate six, so there were plenty of chairs and sofas. A kitchen table was located between the kitchen and the living room under an arch. My daughter, who is very tall, whacked her head the first time she walked through the arch, but being a quick study, that didn't happen again. There was a room located off the kitchen with an ironing board and an iron. We had a washing machine, a full size refrigerator/freezer, a dishwasher, and a stove with oven.
The master bedroom had a full sized bed and ensuite bathroom with a tiny little shower but a jacuzzi tub. The second bedroom had a full sized bed, which was very comfortable but it was extremely low. Since I have kind of bad knees, it was a little difficult to get out of it so I moved to the third bedroom with twin beds the next night. The one that I slept in was not comfortable at all. I moved back into the full sized bed and just had to be creative in getting out of bed (glad there was nobody with a camera present!).
The second bathroom was across the hall from the second and third bedrooms -- quite roomy with a good sized shower with a well-constructed glass enclosure. There was plenty of room to put stuff out on shelves, etc. There were plenty of towels (of course, it was outfitted for 6 and we were just 3).
The kitchen was very people-friendly. Two or three people could work in it at the same time quite comfortably. There were sufficient pots and pans and plenty of dishes. The dishes were all in good condition - no nicks or chips. Plenty of glasses. We had lots of deli food from the alimentari in Vagliagli, but we also cooked 2 full meals (a pork roast and baked fish). I used different pans than I might have used at home, but I managed to cook without a problem.
Problems or Bonuses
I asked about heating charges and was told that it could be "up to E100" for the week plus wood for the oven outside. However, when we checked out, it was the full E100. We had been careful of our use of heating making sure to turn it off when we weren't there, so that was a bit of a surprise. However, the heating was nice and didn't take long to warm the apartment up.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
My communications with ABV Italia were very satisfactory. They answered all of my questions thoroughly (except about the heat). They all spoke English and were very helpful -- Martina was very patient and pleasant in answering my many questions. The keyholder, Beatrice from Borgo Scopeto, was very nice and spoke English very well. We had made arrangements for her to come to the apartment on Friday night since we had to get to Firenze to turn in our rental car and catch a train to Napoli. However, her mother came instead and she didn't speak a word of English. That was no problem for me because I got to use my Italian 2020 skills (with the help of my big dictionary) and we could communicate OK, but if somebody didn't speak any Italian, it could have been difficult. (But does anybody go to Italy to live in the country who couldn't speak at least some Italian?) Anyway, she was a thoroughly delightful person and I'm always happy to get an opportunity to use my Italian.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would definitely recommend it to others with the reservations noted about the quietness of it. It was wonderfully peaceful and tranquil for us, but then we were the only ones there. I would stay there again. It was more beautiful and spacious than the pictures showed. I got ***** from my daughter for selecting such a great place to stay.
Things to do in this area
Vagliagli is very small, but absolutely beautiful. There is an enoteca which we didn't go to because it seemed to attract a young clientele, but there was an absolutely first-rate restaurant -- La Taverna di Vagliagli. There is an art museum near the apartment, but it was closed for the season in November. We drove around the area one day, which was very pleasant, but I didn't see a whole lot of things to actually do in the vicinity. However, it was convenient for driving to other towns. We didn't try to take in a hill town a day (after all, this is Slow Travel), so we only went to Siena (which I found to be terribly expensive), San Gimignano (we got there on market day and it was thoroughly delightful), Monteriggioni, and Radda in Chianti.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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