Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1723: Tuscany Now, Villa L'Istrice
4bed/3bath villa near Vagliagli, Tuscany Chianti
Sept 17 - 24, 2005, 1 week
Villa L'Istrice (Porcupine House) is locally referred to as Il Campo. Location is about 3km from Vagliagli and around 5km from Castellina in Chianti. It's very private, on the edge of a hill top with fabulous views of hills, village/towns in the distance. There are no buildings close to the property. Villa has a private pool. Past the pool, there is a guest house which is rented with the villa. In otherwords, you will not have others staying in the guesthouse when you have rented the entire villa. The property has olive groves and vineyards on a terraced land.
Property is on a stretch of white road (strada bianca). Road is a bit windy and has some steeps up and downs and sharp bends. Nearest shops are in the hamlet of Vagliagli which is 3 km away. Car is required in this location.
Villa is very charming. We found it exactly as in the pictures on the agency site. It's beautifully furnished with antiques and has a very old nice world feeling. All authentic stuff, nothing cheap. Villa has a split level with 3-4 steps. Center portion has a living/sitting area on both levels. Upper sunken living room has a fireplace. The bedrooms and bath are on 2 wings to the left and right of the living area. There is also a dining area on the lower level and a beautiful well equipped kitchen adjacent to it.
There is a little outside sitting area with views. It's completely private. Nice shaded loggia with a large dining table and barbeque/oven. There is a large pool away from and to the side of the villa wich is also private and has lounging area to one side. Pool has ladder. If you have small children, steps might be better.
Furniture is in good condition. Mostly antique. Very comfortable. Apartment was clean. We were a small party of 3, but there is sufficient seating for larger parties of 8 or 10.
We only used the bedrooms in one wing of the villa. Very comfortable beds. bathrooms are clean, everything functions well in all bathrooms. There is bath and shower in 2 of them. No shower curtains.
I absolutely loved the kitchen. It opens out into the loggia. It has everything one would need to cook full meals or even bake (we didn't do any baking). Pots and pans, a great set of knives and cutting boards, coffee maker as well as a little espresso pot, a big refrigerator, dishwasher, gas stove and a large sink. There is a large wooden prep table in the middle where you can also eat your meals.
Problems or Bonuses
Good surprises - the kitchen was very well stocked with olive oil from the villa, all kinds of spices, baking flour, several different teas, 1 tin coffee, butter, 1 litre milk, 1 loaf of bread, some potatos, tomatos and onions and garlic.
The villa has floor to ceiling glass windows in the living/dining area so there is plenty of light coming in and even if it rains (which it did when we were there) you can see outside and feel part of the beautiful countryside.
Bad aspects - I would have preferred slightly more space in front of the villa for my daughter to play freely. There is only a small grassy area and after that some bushes beyond which there is a steep slope to the terraced land. I was constantly worrying that our daughter would drop down through the bushes.
The pool's shallow end is nearly 5 feet deep. I am not much of a swimmer but still I wanted to take our daughter and let her splash around, but I would not have felt comfortable doing that if the water is that deep. Of course, we never got to use the pool because weather was too cold for that.
This may be a good or bad point - there are 4 cats. Our baby loved them. I am terrified of cats!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Agency has some very good agents who give lot of objective information. Some are not that good. I did most of my own research and narrowed down on the villa. One thing they did not tell me and it was not published information at the time that I booked my villa - the depth of the pool in the shallow end. Later when I saw new information added in their 2006 brochure I asked them and they said its standard in Italy. Well, I didn't know that and I would have expected them to tell me since I had mentioned baby and just wading around in the pool etc.
We paid $4100 which was priced for 8 people. When I did our booking they had either 8 people or 10 people pricing. Now they have better pricing options starting from 4 people which would have been ideal for our small party.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would definitely stay here. We all loved the villa. I will unhesitatingly recommend it to my friends. The owner is very, very friendly and helpful. She was away in Milan, but called us everyday to talk about our plans, recommend places to see etc. Very pleasant to deal with.
Things to do in this area
The location is fantastic. It is in the heart of Chianti. Castellina in Chianti is real closeby and it is very interesting town with lots of shops and restaurants. Plan to spend a day here. You could plan to visit the Saturday market here. Vagliagli is even closer and charming. I would recommend a visit to Dievole estate in Vagliagli. Its a beautiful setting. Also Castello Fonterutoli winery which I understand has some excellent wines and the newly discovered Etruscan Necropoli enroute to Fonterutoli (we didn't get to do these two, but our owner highly recommended them).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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