Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1420: Castello in Bisticci, The Lemon Terrace
apartments in castle near Florence, Tuscany Chianti
18 March - 29 April 2005, 6 weeks
We stayed for 6 wonderful weeks from 18 March and through April 2005. Castello in Bisticci is located on a hillside about 20 km. south of Florence. It is in a beautiful and quiet area surrounded by vineyards, olive grove and forest and with magnificent views over the Valdarno valley. Very private but not too remote.
The nearest village (down in the valley) is Cellai, with an alimentari (local shop). But we used to drive about 10 minutes through a beautiful landscape to Rignano sull Arno a small town with a COOP – supermarket and other kind of shops. There is a very good restaurant (Nouve Ranch) about 10 minutes drive from Bisticci, and a pizzeria in Rignano and Cellai and restaurants in Incise and Figline (ca. 10 - 15 minutes drive). We loved to cook at home so we did not go so much out in the evenings.
When we went to Florence we left the car in Rignano sull Arno and took the train to Florence. The main train station is in the center of Florence and we did not have to worry about finding a parking place.
The house is old and charming - it's more like a manor than a castle. The house is from the 16th century built on the ruins of a castle from the 9th century. We stayed in "The Lemon Terrace" apartment and just loved it. The house is on a steep hill and there is a narrow, winding road leading up to the house and other houses in the area. There is a small parking place beside the house and the apartment is on the other side of the house. There are two other houses nearby, and the neighbors are very friendly people with two dogs, one of them became our best friend on four legs.
The surroundings are charming. We had the use of a private garden with magnificent views over Valdarno valley. We loved to sit there and read and relax. From the apartment there are two stairs down to the garden which is situated on the old castle-wall.
Because of the stairs and the situation of the house it can be difficult for old or handicapped people and small children but in general the stairs are good for people of all ages.
The apartment we stayed in is called "The Lemon Terrace" and is newly renovated and surprisingly larger than we expected. It is all painted white and the high ceiling is original woodwork. The apartment is carefully designed and the interior charming old furniture in original Tuscany country style.
There are beautiful old stone-steps leading up to the apartment, every step with a lot of history. We miss those steps back home because they kept us in good shape during the stay.
We arrived late in the evening, hungry and tired but Cid (the owner) brought us some spaghetti and homemade pesto. That was our first meal but certainly not our last because we love cooking and the kitchen was perfect for our experimental Italian cooking. The living area, with the huge dining-table of rustic wood and the big fireplace, is very comfortable, in the area there is also a TV, Cd-player, furniture and a lot of space for dancing. In the evenings the fireplace became the heart of the house, we loved sitting by the fire and talking and listening to music.
There are few steps from the living area to the tower room, a wonderful working area for writers and artists. Few steps down from there lead to the lemon terrace. Sitting by the open windows in the terrace was fascinating because of the stunning panorama view over the garden, the hillside and the valley beneath. On the terrace there are three lemon trees, with lemons to use.
One master bedroom with very good beds, and another bedroom that we called the hippy-bedroom because the bed was low and on wheels, made for flying into dreamland. The third bedroom is with the smallest bed - too small for adults - with a larger bed this small room is just perfect. The bedrooms are without windows but with French doors opening to the lemon terrace. It surprised us at first but it was easy to regulate the fresh air into the rooms and we slept very well the whole time.
On the terrace there is a washing machine and door leading to the bathroom, which is not big but comfortable. On the terrace there is a table and two chairs, we liked to sit there at the open window eating breakfast or working at our PC. It is easy to get ideas for writing in that kind of surroundings.
Problems or Bonuses
It is a big bonus to have the owners living in the same house. They are warm and very helpful people and did everything in their power to make our stay enjoyable. Cid is English and the family is all English speaking. Cid lent us books about Florence and the surrounding area, told us about markets and places to see. We had the use of WIND-modem for our PC and where able to work on the Internet and we also got Italian telephone-number for GSM so we could phone inexpensively home to our family and friends in Iceland.
Although the owners live in the same house, we were very private as the flats are on opposite sides of the house. When we left they were expecting a craftsman to put up more lights outside the house because the only thing we could complain about was that it needed more lights outside after dark. The owners also helped us to rent a very inexpensive car and assisted us in many ways.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
It was very easy to correspond via email with the owner who is English. The apartment is inexpensive, but heating is expensive in Italy. We paid 2500 euros for 6 weeks rent and 600 euros for heating and electricity those 6 weeks, we are used to warm up houses inexpensive. The apartments in Castello in Bisticci are not lent on one week basis and if you stay 4 months the rent is 1000 euros for a month which is very, very inexpensive, one month is 2000 euros. The owners website has photos and information.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We highly recommend this place to anyone that are looking for a quiet country retreat. There is good access to main roads and highways and trains, and many places to visit in Tuscany, with its stunning landscape, lots of historic places and unbelievably beautiful art.
Things to do in this area
We visited Florence many times and just loved it, specially the places where tourists do not visit. We also visited Pisa, Siena, Greve and drove about in the Chianti mountains. There are many small villages to visit, such as Radda in Chianti and San Miniato and we also visited many villages in Montagna Fiorentina. We can also recommend a visit to the villages Pienza and Bagno Vignoni that are south of Siena.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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