Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1753: La Bella Toscana, Il Leccio
2bed/2bath apartment on a farm, San Gimignano, Tuscany West
July 2005, 1 week
The location was ideal; within walking distance of the tower town of San Gimignano and a grocery store, but isolated enough to feel you were in the country with a scenic view of cypress trees and vineyards as well as peace and quiet. The villa was surrounded by 10 acres of farmland so we were not too close to other buildings although we could see them dotting the landscape. The area was very central for sightseeing in Tuscany.
We could walk to the grocery store and restaurants (1/2 km) but we usually drove to bring the groceries back. There were several restaurants in town where we ate but we usually had lunch out in some village and then made dinners at home.
The house is very old but has been restored with all modern conveniences. There were several old implements and baskets around to connect the modern with the old. We found it bright and airy and roomy for 4. Each bedroom had its own bathroom, one with a tub and 1 with a shower. The eat-in kitchen was large with a marble table and lots of cupboards and there was a living room opposite the kitchen with book shelves, a TV and a fireplace. Outside we had a laundry shed and a swimming pool. There was one other apartment in the villa but we were rarely aware of the family there and we enjoyed falling asleep to the country sounds. A smaller villa has just been completed on the property.
There were several outside seating areas. There were tables and chairs on the front and back lawns close to the house. Then there was a large patio area around the large-sized pool, with chairs and tables and umbrellas.
The furniture was comfortable and colourful. The apartment was immaculate and the owners were proud of that. There was ample seating even when two additional friends arrived for lunch.
The beds were comfortable and relatively new. The bedrooms were spotless with large armoires for clothing. We each had a modern bright bathroom with lots of hot water.
The kitchen was very functional and big enough for us all to make dinner together. The large marble table served both for working and eating and there were lots of cupboards. There were plenty of pots and pans which we used often. The gas stove performed well but the refrigerator was less ideal. We spent a lot of time sitting around the table at mealtime with the window open to beautiful fields.
Problems or Bonuses
We were surprised by the exactly-as-advertised quality of the villa and the interest in us the owners showed. San Gimignano was a jewel!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We had problems with e-mailing at the beginning and the people in the English office went out of their way to forward our messages. When we finally got that problem solved the Italian representatives were most helpful about narrowing our choice and seemed personally interested in making our stay a treat. We also had initial problems sending money through Mastercard and again they were very patient and accommodating while not really knowing us. The agency and the owners who met us all spoke English. The place was exactly as advertised and really even better. I believe we paid about $2000 Canadian dollars for 4 for the week in mid July.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would definitely stay here again and definitely book another villa through this agency. Although we stayed in central hotels in Rome and Florence the villa experience was the highlight of our first trip to Italy. We have already given brochures to several friends. We found this agency through a recommendation in a travel magazine, and they found us a place that filled all our expectations.
Things to do in this area
We explored the walled town of San Gimignano with shops, art galleries and churches on several days. We headed north to the coast and to Pisa (which is overrated in our opinion) but loved Lucca (with a summer music festival) and Greve in Chianti. Volterra, a centre for alabaster and the oldest Etruscan town was one of our favourite places as was Siena. We also loved wandering around Monteriggioni, another small walled town. Just sitting in a cafe having a cappucccino mid-morning or a wine mid-afternoon in any small village was like a dream.
We found one restaurant just a few kilometres from our villa which was a restaurant for Italian families and that was an amazing experience to be with locals. Everyone should seek out that chance. We did not do a lot of shopping but the glass jewellery shops in San Gimignano were lovely. All Italians seem to have the friendly gene and encouraged us to try the language but laughed with us at our attempts.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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