Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1591: Le Manzinaie, Apartment
apartments on an estate near Montepulciano, Tuscany South
May 2005, one week
Le Manzinaie is approximately 5 miles outside Montepulciano. It is well-situated for exploring Southern Tuscany. Siena is less than 30 minutes away. Cortona approximately 20 minutes. Arezzo, Perugia and Assisi are about an hour. In the immediate vicinity are several small villages. 30 minutes West is Montalcino and the spa towns are about 30 minutes South (on the other side of Montepulciano).
We fell in love with Montepulciano and really got to know this little hill town. It's really quite lovely and offers enough food, history and ambiance to fill a couple of days.
We flew into Florence and it took approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to drive to Le Manzinaie. Actually, it took us longer because we arrived at night and got lost in the dark. NOTE: Signs along the road tell you which towns you are heading toward not necessarily which towns you are in. We got within 3 miles of the villa but in the end, couldn't locate it. Alice and Fiore were kind enough to come out to the Gelateria we called them from and lead us to the property.
Exhausted (we had a hellacious experience with Air France ... beware!) and hungry they brought us plates of food and let us handle check-in the next morning. They are truly gracious hosts.
There really isn't anything within walking distance but several small villages are 5-10 minutes away. Aquafina boasts a terrific restaurant (get the name from Marzia or Alice) and Montepulciano has everything you could need.
Our accommodations were wonderful. An old tabacco drying shed had been converted into a two story living space. All the amenities were top notch and the decor was both personal and charming (courtesy of Marzia).
The layout was a small kitchen/seating area when you first enter. To the left, past a series of coat hooks, is a large bedroom (queen size bed) with bathroom (jacuzzi tub). Up the steep stairs is a second large bedroom (queen) with its own bathroom (with shower). Two couples could comfortably share the space and maintain their privacy. Outside was a pleasant seating area for evening supper or sunny lunches.
The property is immaculately kept with a large pool, beautiful grounds and plenty of privacy. Our son loved chasing the lizards, playing with Rufus, the family dog, and paddling around in the pool (though the water was quite cold in mid-May ... despite full sunshine).
While we were there, Fiore was finishing a patio area with outdoor cooking area. It looked terrific.
The beds were comfortable. The water pressure was good. Everything was clean and well cared for. Fiore is an ingenious electrician, using a house key to turn off and on the power so that you never leave lights burning while you are out. There are plenty of electrical outlets and a phone in each bedroom. The rooms were spacious and the kitchen was quite adequate for basic cooking: stove, microwave, fridge (no oven, though).
There is no internet (except dial up in the office) but who needs it? You're on vacation! Can't say much about TV, we never watched. They provide a small 13 inch color set but our advice is read a book or drink some of the terrific local wine and have a satisfying conversation.
Le Manzinaie provided us with a terrific crib/toddler bed for our 3 year old son with a comfy blanket he loved.
If there was one handicap to the villa, it's the lack of common space. It's a small criticism, but it would have been nice to have a room or lounge area, either in the unit (i.e. livingroom) or in the main building, to use as a central meeting place, information depository, etc. (or as a space for our son to play in when it rained).
Otherwise, the grounds are lovely and provide plenty of chairs, lounges & tables when the weather is good. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the sun, a book, a glass of wine or conversation.
Problems or Bonuses
The guest dinner was truly wonderful. The food is terrific, and Marzia's family is warm and welcoming (not to mention good cooks!). We genuinely felt like we were among friends. The assortment of food they provided for us upon arrival was especially thoughtful and the bottle of wine (Fiore gets it from a neighbor) was delicious. We especially liked the red.
Marzia was absolutely wonderful to our son, giving him small treats and gifts during our stay. Fiore took him for a ride on the riding lawn mower that he still talks about 2 months later. Alice put together a helpful handbook about the area and the family, as a whole, is incredibly helpful at giving directions, making recommendations, etc.
Marzia says her dream is to have a kitchen to teach cooking and prepare meals with guests. We can't wait to see her dream come true and be among the first guests!
At the end of our stay Marzia gave my wife a beautiful sunflower dipped in silver. We keep it on our mantel. It was an incredibly touching gesture.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Le Manzinaie is family owned and run. Marzia speaks English well. She helped us more times than I can count. Fiore speaks very little English but more than makes up for it with his warmth and humor. Their daughter Alice speaks English beautifully and has chosen to make it her educational focus in college.
The weekly rate is a bit high but well worth every penny. This is a family dedicated to making their home your home and it's hard to put a price on hospitality like that.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
This is one of those situations where we were afraid to praise the villa too highly out of fear of it becoming so popular we would be unable to return. We think Le Manzinaie is a special, wonderful place run by equally wonderful people. We are already strategizing how and when we can return.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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