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Review 134: Cottages to Castles, Villa La Porticciola


Review by Andy from PA

4bed/4.5bath villa near San Gimignano, Tuscany West


September 2001, 1 week


Rented a 4 bedroom 4 1/2 bath villa from 9/15 - 9/29, 2001 from Parker Co. Name is Villa il Quadro or if renting from Cottages to Castles the name is La Porticciola (why?).

This villa is the closest villa except one to San Gimignano about 1/2 mile away and easily walkable. The location is perfect not only for San G. but for traveling to Chianti, Florence, Siena, Lucca, Volterra, Montalcino, etc. The villa was very peaceful with a beautiful view of San G. and the surrounding countryside with its vineyards. While we were there they started picking the white Vernaccia grapes which was a treat. The villa is not part of a farm but we felt like we were part of the process.

The villa has 4 bedrooms each with a queen size bed and each with its own ensuite bathroom. Both were a prerequisite when we were looking to book a place. It does not have a full size swimming pool but a soaking pool that none of us used anyway. But we are all over 50 and maybe a family with children would find that a drawback.

The kitchen has a full size refrigerator and a 3 burner stove and plenty of plates, silverware, etc. to provide decent cooking if need be. There is a satellite TV and the TV room has 2 couches but the living room has old, old furniture that we did not use anyway.

The surprises included an old fig tree with ripe figs, a pomegranate tree, an apple tree and the driveway lined with many olive trees which will be picked in a few weeks. The only deviation from the brochure was the definition of a dryer - a rope is NOT a dryer for 8 people.

The owner was a very amiable 30 some year old male who spoke passable English and helped us with our broken Italian. We had a problem with the hot water a couple of days and he came right over to help and at the end gave us a 50% discount from our electric and phone bill without our asking. He put in an application to build a large swimming pool next to the patio outside the kitchen looking at San G. and was turned down because it would change the landscape of those people looking down from San G. towards the valley. That’s my kind of government. He intends to put the pool in next to the driveway so it won't be seen from the city.

All in all a great experience and a large thumbs UP for this place. If anyone has plans to visit or stay in the San Gimignano area a fun restaurant with good food and very reasonable is Chiribiri which is right inside the main gate and then a left at the first opening.

One caveat: when you rent a car make sure you ask the agent if it is regular gas or DIESEL. I got a diesel and did not know it - no signs on it except inside the gas door - and naturally I put unleaded gas (sensa piombo) in it and broke down in Castellina in Chianti.

When I went back to Avis with my sad story they said it happens to Americans all the time - really? - and would not reimburse me the 190,000 lire for the tow and drainage of the tank. I intend to pursue this a little further including litigation if necessary.

But all turned out OK anyway as we had a delicious meal in Castellina, met a lot of interesting people including the tow truck driver. We went back the next day to finish our tour in Chianti and had a marvelous lunch at Lorenza D'Medici's Badia il Coltibuono on the other side of Radda in Chianti - many great meals over a 2 week period.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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