Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1444: La Bella Toscana, Villa Maretta
5bed/4bath house near Colle di Val d'Elsa, Tuscany West
May 4 - 18, 2005, 11 days
Villa Maretta is located about five miles the town of Colle di Val d'Elsa in the Siena region of central Tuscany. Florence was about 1 1/2 hours (in traffic time) away by car. It is on the estate of a working farm; the owners live in the nearby villa and are busy with their own affairs. The area was like a painting; everywhere you looked was a beautiful vista. The small village of Casole d'Elsa can be seen from the property (and vice versa); one can walk uphill to it, but the path is somewhat difficult. One can certainly drive there on a good road, and it certainly is a charming village. Excellent gelateria.
The nearest place for provisions was really the town of Colle. The Coop supermarket was excellent, but it didn't take credit cards. There is an ATM machine near the parking lot. One could get some things in Casole, too, but the markets were, of course, small there. You COULD walk there; we didn't.
The villa has been beautifully restored in traditional Tuscan style. The attached one-bedroom apartment did not connect with the main house but had easy access from several other doors. The floors were tiled, the kitchen modern and convenient, with dishwasher and anything you would want in the way of cooking ware. All the rooms were very large and airy, with white walls, brick arches, lovely dark wood. The inside shutters on the windows were particularly well-designed and attractive. It was amazingly quiet and close to nature - the birds provided any music you could want. We even heard cuckoos - we had never heard them before.
One could sit around the large pool (not open yet because of the time of our visit), open the umbrellas if it became too sunny, use either of two patio areas near the apartment, use the pergola for shady visits. Plenty of outdoor furniture was available; the areas were not shared. One could also sit under a tree on the grass - plenty of places to wander and select.
The house was comfortably and amply furnished, perfectly clean in every respect. Two fireplaces were available; we used the one in the upstairs lounge because it was a cozier space for evening gatherings of our group.
All the beds were firm and comfortable in large, airy bedrooms. The bathrooms were well-designed, attractive, clean and numerous. The supersized downstairs bathroom (there was no downstairs bedroom) contained a large tub with jacuzzi, which our group enjoyed taking turns using.
We cooked many of our meals at the villa. It had a gas stove, good oven, lots of cookware, serving pieces, dishwasher, toaster, automatic coffeemaker. Yes, it was a very good kitchen for cooking whatever one wanted. The instructions for the stove, however, did not contain any English translations, so that was a bit awkward till we figured out how to set the oven dials properly.
Problems or Bonuses
The villa was much larger in every respect than we expected. It was truly lovely and most comfortable. We would love to return sometime.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Teresa and Gaynor looked after our rental process with La Bella Toscana. They couldn't have been more helpful, right down to the detailed directions to our villa. One is always operating on a bit of a leap of faith with internet bookings; we were treated exceptionally well; the property we selected exceeded all expectations. The owners did not speak English, but we managed to transact our business with a variety of gestures and a smattering of Italian. They took care of whatever we wanted them to almost invisibly.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Absolutely, we would stay here again. I can't think of a better location, a more lovely place to stay. We thought it would be nice, from the agency descriptions; we had no idea it would be that nice.
Things to do in this area
We loved the hill towns nearby, took day trips to Siena, Volterra, Colle di Val d'Elsa, Casole, several other towns farther afield: Montalcino, Montepulciano, back to Florence several times.
The Columbiano Restaurant in Casole was very special and memorable, but we found the food generally to be good everywhere. We particularly liked the gelato at the Acropolis Gelateria in the Colle town square, found any excuse we could think of to drive by there.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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