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Review 147: Country Cottages, Villa di Castello

Review by Jules from FL

6bed/5bath villa near Traversa, Tuscany North


September 2001


We booked our trip, including the villa, through Elite Escapades, a travel group in Clearwater, FL (email address travelit@tampabay.rr.com). It was originally a group of 22 but 13 actually went (because of the situation in the US).

TRIP REPORT: A VILLA IN TUSCANY October 13th - October 20th Our first stop was London for two days then off to Bologna via British Airways. From Bologna Airport, we traveled south to a small town called Traversa (north of Florence and Borgo S. Lorenzo, just east of the autostrada from Florence to Bologna). Here we found "Villa di Castello", a delightful villa with a breathtaking view of the hills of Tuscany. (Although, how one could call them hills is beyond me ... they are more mountains.) We stayed in this villa from Saturday to Saturday, exploring the countryside and cities to the south of us. Florence was 1 hour by car and Siena, 2 hrs.

Nearby, was a delightful, family owned restaurant, "Jolanda". It was passed down from a Mother to her own two daughters. Their daughters, sisters and cousins, now work there with the male members of family helping out on weekends. The food and wine was better than we found in cities such as Florence and Rome. True home Italian cooking. We were also treated as celebrities ... being from America and traveling at this time. The whole experience was memorable. They asked for a picture of our group to hang on the wall. The food and wine was also less expensive than in the cities. Average meal for two was $14.00 to $17.00 including wine and a after dinner liquor. We ate many of our evening meals there.

More about the Villa: This truly was a castle in its time ... there was a chapel on the grounds for the visiting priest to celebrate Mass and other religious events. The "key keeper’s" house is located right next to the iron gate entrance. As is usual in Italy, no screens on the windows. And, to our surprise ... we found they are not really needed.

The Villa was very comfortable with 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. I loved the kitchen ... big, bright with 2 stoves and a big woodburning hearth ... a wonderful large marble table to gather around. I always felt we were returning home after all the day trips to Florence, Siena and San Gimignano (Medieval Manhattan with its skyscraper towers).

Barberino di Mugello is a lovely town marked by stupendous views of Tuscan countryside ... 21 miles north of Florence. I would like to return and stay in the Villa .. but it really calls for a group or big family. We were a group of 8 and it was very accommodating. We even had a fire going for the last 2 nights....a nip in the air...felt so good!

We were very pleased with the Villa ... the furniture was very comfortable and in good condition. We would stay there again.

You can find information about the cities in any good travel book. I loved the shopping and the sights. Each town has its own charm. I would like to return to Italy and stay longer. One can only have a taste of this region in one week ... it would take much longer to digest.

I would, however, make one recommendation. Don’t drive into Florence or Siena ... park your car in one of the small towns outside the area and take a train or bus.The train station is right in the center of Florence ... just head south to the river and it will be fine ... you will get lost but you will find your way ... perhaps jot down a few landmarks on your way and look for them on your way back. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I am glad we went. Half of the people scheduled cancelled because of the war and security. If anyone has questions or would like more information, please contact me on the message board.

Note from SlowTrav: The provided website for Country Cottages, www.europvacationvillas.com, is no longer active but you can find this property through Regency Villas at www.regencyvillas.com. You can view the property directly at Villa di Castello.

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

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