Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1554: Parker Villas, Villa Fra Angelico
8bed/8bath villa near Sarteano, Tuscany South
September 4 - 11, 2004, 7 days
Villa Fra Angelico is located in the southeast area of Tuscany as part of a series of villas dotted accross the Val D'Orca hills. With uninterrupted views of the mountains, the villa's private seclusion is enhanced by being situated in the middle of a nature preserve. The 5 mile, 20 minute journey along the private drive to and from Fra Angelico takes you past families of wild boars, pheasants, rabbits and a whole host of natural Tuscany. The villa is five miles from the Abbazi di Spineto, a restored abbey as well as the welcome center for the villa collection.
A quick 15 minute drive from the Abbey puts you in the small town of Sarteano with a choice of several small grocery stores, a winery and olive press, a few local type restaurants and a gas station. Sarteano is only a few minutes drive from Chuisi, the nearest exit on the highway between Florence and Rome.
The villa has been restored beautifully leaving bits and pieces of the rustic charm one expects in Tuscany. The villa has a large main building that houses the kitchen, larger and smaller living rooms, 6 bedrooms, 6 ensuite full bathrooms and a common half bath. There is a small covered walkway from the main house to the dining house where a large dining table for 12 and a small living room looks onto the hills. There are also two smaller out-buildings toward the front of the house each containing a bedroom and ensuite full bath. These two small buildings share a private sunken patio area. The pool is located behind the house, up the hill about 40 feet and offers lovely views over part of the house to the hillsides.
Although the villa is situated in a nature preserve, there was a small olive grove attached to it. The landscaping has been allowed to grown naturally with dozens of wild rosemary bushes, fig and lemon trees. The private pool was large and clean and had enough lounge chairs for everyone to fall asleep in.
The furnishings were modern and casual and were very comfortable. The common areas fit our group of 11 comfortably. There was maid service three times a week and if needed inbetween we had access to a washer and dryer. Burnt light bulbs where changed without us even knowing and large baskets of villa grown grapes and wine were left for us to enjoy.
There were 8 bedrooms, 2 of which had queen beds, 6 with doubles. The bedding was excellent, the towels were very good. The villa was very clean and kept to a very high standard. There were 6 in a half baths and they were very clean and modern. Two of the showers however needed minor cosmetic repairs.
Our group consisted of several fine cooks and we used the kitchen for a few large meals during the week. The kitchen was a large galley style with granite countertops, a good quality stove, stacked ovens and a larger refrigerator. The dish washer broke our first day and the Abbey sent extra maids to clean the dishes until it could be repaired two days later. The first night we also had the Abbey arrange a chef to prepare us a traditional welcome meal. It was inexpensive and was prepared by an local Tuscan woman. She also cleaned up afterwards.
Problems or Bonuses
The long road to the villa was a surprise. We read several reviews of it and decided it couldn't be as bad as some people complained about nor as refreshing as others described ... it was both. The road is very rustic and there are several places you are told to "drive fast and don't stop" otherwise you'll never make it up the hill. At times it was a little jaw breaking. It is something our group still chuckles about.
A huge surprise? THE SUNSETS FROM THE VILLA! Absolutely stuning!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The Parker Company was excellent. Their guidebook was well written and accurate. The photos were also excellent. The welcome staff at the Abbey was very friendly, spoke English and gave us a lot of information about the area. They also gave us a private tour of the Abbey and the modern art galleries of the owners home.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Absolutely! We were a group of three gay male couples and five single women ranging in ages from 35 to 60 and it was the perfect place for us. We all had our own bedrooms and own bathrooms and agreed we would love to stay at Fra Angelico again.
Things to do in this area
The olive oil in the Sarteano mill is considered by locals to be some of the best in Tuscany. I bought oil from all over the region and have to agree with the locals. While we were at the mill a man drove from 4 hours away and bought 20 litres of oil ... enough to last him 6 months I guess :) The off-the-beaten-track area of Tuscany we stayed in was still close to everything we wanted to see but allowed us the breathing room to feel like we really got away.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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