Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1336: Appartamenti al Poggiolo, Apartment
apartments in Montepulciano, Tuscany South
March 12 - 19, 2005, 7 days
As other reviewers on this board have noted, there are 4 apartments in a large stone house attached to the family palazzo "about halfway up the hill" in Montepulciano. Ours, number 4, was a two-storey unit with the kichen and sitting room upstairs under a high beamed ceiling. It has open views over the countryside and a private entrance from the street. Hence it could not be quieter or more private. The owners have also recently converted another building in an adjacent street; for these smaller studio apartments, the view is not quite so open. Still perfectly quiet, though.
The nearest restaurant was also our favourite and, we would argue, the finest dining in Montepulciano -- a town well stocked with restaurants at all levels of price and quality.
There are small food shops on nearby streets -- but remember, everything in Montepulciano requires a climb or a descent. For larger volume purchases we took the car to the local Conad, an UPIM affiliate. We also walked there (or rather: "descended", then "climbed back") for smaller purchases. It is a mid-sized supermarket with a rather decrepit exterior but fine selection, especially for meats and wines.
"Historic" describes everything in Montepulciano and this house was no exception. It was impossible to date the stone building precisely, though I would judge the adjacent family palazzo to be 17th century. Inside, the total and very sucessful renovation has preserved (or renewed) beams and stone stairs but with the addition of complete modern comfort: double-glazing throughout, efficient heating and boiler, total re-wiring, dishwasher, microwave, heated towel racks in the modern bathrooms. Where new materials were required -- such as the Tuscan "cotto" floors -- faithful copies of old materials have been used.
We also had the chance to see other units, though the kindness of other guests. They enjoy the same consistently high level of finish.
No pool but the handsome terraced garden, shared by all tenants, is directly acessible from two units and was reached by a common corridor by the rest of us. No-one else was there when we used it. The flagstone patio and benches, stone steps and retaining walls must have cost a fortune to install or renew.
The garden is gated at one end -- far from the sitting area -- and guests may park there. This is a major plus for Montepulciano, in which parking space is severely limited. (Generally, all over Tuscany, much dangerous improvisation takes place: cars on sidewalks or butted up against each other in too-tiny spaces. We felt opulent having this space and a key-controlled gate into the bargain.)
Our apartment was meant to take up to four people and all accommodation reflected that: adequate seating for that number; sufficient hanging storage for four; two smallish but sparkling bathrooms; two modest-sized but perfectly adequate bedrooms. Lots of light everywhere: in one bathroom, the owners had even glazed three tiny arched openings to thet outside (Dovecote, perhaps??) in the shower! (Don't worry, no-one can see in.)
Did I mention the handsome fireplace in the snug but well-lighted sitting room? Or the fine botanical pencil-sketches lining the walls? -- I deciphered a family member's name and the date 1905 on them.
The kitchen lacked an oven but had gas cook-top and micro-wave -- more than enough for our needs as we were determined to eat out whenever possible. Double sink, dishwasher, loads of counter-space but no upper cabinets. And the common expedient of curtaining the under-counter storage has been used. But who cares? It was spacious; it had high beamed ceilings; it had cotto floors; the backsplash was in beautiful ceramics; and everything sparkled.
Problems or Bonuses
No unexpected negatives: we knew Montepulciano was hilly when we rented. Others less fit might find they ache a bit at the end of the day. And of course you do not have to go sprinting about as we did. Everything in Montepulciano is in fact reachable by car: just a bit of a bore to drive in narrow streets.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked with the owners. Everything was as represented. They can be contacted by phone or e-mail if you wish to discuss arrangements with them in advance. We e-mailed them a few times to coordinate arrival times et cetera.
Note though that the website gives only their Montepulciano phone numbers and they are there only at weekends. One of the two sisters, gladly gave me her Rome land-line number - ask for it when you contact them.
Margherita and Giorgio took us on a quick tour to see the main sights, on our arrival. They are highly civilized people -- that is my highest accolade -- who clearly love their town.
We paid 500 euros, their low season rate for 2 person occupancy. That is about 71 Euros per day. If you are questioning the wisdom of a March holiday: It was cold just before our arrival but by the end of the stay I was worried about sunburn, in the 70 degree (21 degree centigrade) sunshine.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes: In fact, I e-mailed an office colleague while in Montepulciano, to urge him to consider this for a planned family trip to Tuscany in two months.
Things to do in this area
Le Logge del Vignola is a very fine restaurant with attentive but not cloying service. It is 3 minutes away in via delle Erbe. We had one big blow-out dinner there, then went back for lunch a few days later. Lunch is a good deal, as you can have two courses (with an amuse-gueule, plus house aperitif plus a glass of wine) for 18 Euros -- this is really a steal for a dinner-sized meal of high, high quality.
We also ate at recommended places in Montichiello, Montefollonico and elsewhere in Montepulciano -- but none of them really impressed me as this did.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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