Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 142: Parker Villas, Casa Rustichella
2bed/1bath apartment in hamlet near Castellina, Tuscany Chianti
Fall 2001, 1 week
My husband and I rented Casa Rustichella for a week on October 13-20, 2001. We enjoyed our stay at Casa Rustichella. It was what we were looking for on our first trip to Italy. We wanted to enjoy the wine area of Chianti and see the lovely villages of Central Tuscany. We enjoy being away from the city. We are very active and typically spend time touring instead of lounging. Casa Rustichella is very centrally located for touring Chianti but close enough to Siena to also be able to visit the areas both to the west and the south.
Casa Rustichella is a new rental from The Parker Company (year 2001) Reference #804. We selected and rented the apartment over the web from the Parker site. We were the third renters. The apartment has recently been renovated and the owners are a wonderful young couple who has equipped their apartment with the American renter in mind.
It is located in a very small hamlet of Pornano which you will probably not find on a map. It is located between Castellina and Radda on a white road that runs south between the two towns. The apartment is in a stone building and has 5 individually owned apartments with one available for rent. There is an English-Italian couple who lives permanently in one apartment and the other apartments were not occupied when we were there. There is another house near by. Below the apartment is a working farm, which is currently planting the opposite hillside with olive trees. There was some associated noise during the day from tractors and bulldozers but it was very interesting to watch the progress. From outside the apartment are views of the oak-covered hills and in the distance the village of Lecchi.
The apartment is accessed on a dirt road (white road). The distance is about 5km after the turnoff on S222 outside of Castellina. It is about the same distance on the white road to Radda. The road is in good condition, wide enough for two cars and takes about 10 minutes to drive to the main road. This may be a consideration if you are looking for more of a village experience and may seem isolated to some. But if you are looking for quiet country experience in Chianti, this is a great option. The closest facilities are in Castellina which has great options for restaurants, ATM, Coop and other grocery stores and gas station. The area is very wooded and the roads are windy in Chianti. I think that was our biggest surprise. We had expected more of the rolling vineyards but found it more wooded in oak. But it is gorgeous especially in the early morning light of Autumn. Most of the towns you want to visit in Chianti are within a 30 - 45 minute drive. It is about 30 minutes to an entrance to the SI-FI (main highway from Siena to Florence).
The owners met us in Castellina Scalo where they live and we followed them to the apartment. Stephano and Roberta speak a little bit of English and took time to show us around the apartment. It is located up two sets of stairs, 18 to a small open shared gravel area and another 15 stairs to the door of the apartment. The living/dining room is a large tiled room. It has a fireplace that we did not need to use. There is a table for 4 people and it is decorated in a Tuscan Country style. Copper pans decorate the shelves, coordinated botanical print on the chairs and window and dark wood furniture. The pictures are photos of Tuscany, botanical prints. Other furniture was a small sofa and two barrel chairs. There is no TV but there is a radio. The window is a large wood window that opens up with a view of the olive farm. It does have screens, which Stefano was proud to point out.
The kitchen is well equipped. It is narrow but there is enough room work in. There is a 4 burner (3 gas, 1 electric) range top, an oven, the typical European refrigerator and a large double sink and area for draining dishes. It had full set of dishes (plate, bowls, saucers) for 6 people, mugs and espresso cups, plastic glasses and bowls for using outdoors and 6 glasses which were a little big for wine but worked. It has an American style drip coffee maker along with an Italian coffee maker. We're from Seattle so we choose to use the Italian coffee maker. It also has a toaster. There were two large pans for cooking pasta and a fry pan. No smaller pans but this worked out very well for us since we usually made pasta and salad. It also had a nice platter and large pasta bowl. All the dishes and pans are new. It was also equipped with kitchen linens (towels, tablecloths, floor mat).
The apartment hot water was provided by an on-demand hot water heater which was located in one of the cabinets in the kitchen. We always had lots of hot water. There was dish soap, cleaning equipment, paper towels, paper napkins which was probably left over from previous renters.
A hall led to the bedroom and bath area. One bedroom had two twin beds with a built in closet. The window opened but the cypress trees next to the building restricted the view. There were lights next to each bed and small shelves. We did not use the room. The other bedroom had a large comfortable bed (two twins together). It had both a nice warm blanket and also a comforter in addition to the bedspread. It was still warm for us in October so we removed the comforter. There is an armoire, rocking chair and small shelves. The mirror and armoire were accented with stencils on the wall. There was a non-working fireplace and the window opened up to a view similar to the living room.
The bathroom was between the two bedrooms. The apartment had recently been remodeled so the fixtures and tile was new and bright. The window had probably the best view. The shower was between the sink and toilet. It was an Italian style shower. The drain was in the bathroom floor. There were folding doors that enclose the shower area but as usual, a long shower would end up getting the whole bathroom wet. Each person is provided with a nice towel set; one large bath towel, almost a sheet, another smaller bath towel and a hand towel. They were very nicely presented. Each set was folded and wrapped in a ribbon and bow.
Outside, there was a small folding picnic table for two, a hammock and lawn chairs. A BBQ was also available. There were no laundry facilities.
We had no problems while at the apartment. The shower was a little slow draining and one light burned out but Stefano had showed us where the extra light bulbs were stored. It was very clean even though it had only been occasionally used.
We usually had a small breakfast in the morning and a nice strong Italian coffee. We left each day around 10am to tour the area or visit a site. Some of the places we visited were Chianti Wine towns of Greve, Castellina and Radda, Volpaia, San Gimignano, Siena, Voltera. We usually ate our main meal at lunch and for dinner we would cook at the apartment. The longest day was a trip to Montalcino, Sant'Antimo Abbey and La Foce Garden. Even that day we were back by sundown which was 7:00pm in October.
The owners made us feel very welcome. They run a bar and tabac in Castellina Scalo. They showed us how everything worked and the location of the electricity. They provided us with a welcoming bottle of Chianti wine from the local area. The apartment had brochures from tourist bureau on places to visit in Tuscany. They also had written up a small brochure welcoming us to Tuscany and it had recipes of some Tuscan specialties. They also offered us the use of their computer to access the Internet so we could check on the world activities and access email. This was very nice given the events happening in September and October 2001.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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