Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1768: Owner, Casale Sonnino
5bed/3bath villa near Frascati, Lazio
August 2005, One week
The Casale Sonnino is located in the hills surrounding Rome and is part of the Castelli Romani, a delightful area rich in history, beautiful hill towns, lakes and the bustling, bright little city of Frascati. The Casale is a working farm, producing grapes and olives situated on the hillside with a commanding view of Rome and the Appenine mountains.
It's location is so convenient to many sites: 30 minutes from Tivoli, Hadrian's Villa, 2 hours to Assisi, Todi, Spoleto; one hour, 15min. to Orvieto; 20 minutes to Castel Gondolfo and its' crater lake, Lake Albano; and many, many more wonderful places. We have even taken day trips to Siena, Florence, San Gimignano, Montepulciano and Pienza.
Frascsati has a lovely train station with a spur line that takes you directly to the heart of Rome in 30 minutes! (Rome may also be driven in 30 minutes and there is public parking) The A1 Autostrada is but minutes away.
It is totally private - you feel you have gone back in time, eating under the grapes in the pergola, walking through the vineyards or olive groves. My husband and I have been returning to the Casale since 1995. We have rented in all seasons, bringing both family and friends. I have rented the Casale for the purpose of bringing art groups with me. It is perfect for the artist who wishes to totally immerse her/himself in the surroundings of the most beautiful landscape.
A car is a necessity, but access to the hilltown of Monte Porzio where there are alimentaries for small grocery needs and a wonderful restaurant, I Tinneloni, is but 5 minutes away. Frascati is but 10 minutes away with wonderful boutique shops, piazzas, bustling markets and two supermercatos for all and any grocery needs. There are numerous restaurants, from small trattorias to upscale cuisine - all delicious, and reasonable. If one wishes to walk to Monte Porzio, it is not impossible. One daughter loves to take her morning run to the town and back.
The Casale Sonnino itself is, I believe, over two hundred years old, but it sits on top of the remains of a Roman Senator's villa. It is steeped in history and is architecturally quite beautiful. Under the villa are caves from the Roman times that stretch for a 1/4 mile or more. Georgio Treves gave our grandchildren a wonderful underground tour just last August. Artifacts from Roman times are apparent in the house and along the stone walls.
The House itself is quite spacious. An incredibly large eating and living room space is on the first floor. A private salon, small bed room and luxurious bath, country farm house kitchen complete the downstairs. Upstairs are four double bedrooms and two full baths. An anteroom to the terrace also can sleep two others. The terrace is large and offers just incredible views of the countryside. Often at night fireworks can be observed from various towns, celebrating one event or another. This is a perfect spot for quiet reading, or for children, pingpong tournaments before bed. Last August we arrived with two of our daughters, their husbands and six grandchildren from age 13-5 (12 in all) and we never felt crowded.
Our favorite spot for breakfast coffee, a long leisurely lunch, wine in the evening, or just to sit and read (or paint) is the pergola just steps from the main door. All extremely private. Here you sit under the grape vines and enjoy the breezes of the seasons. We have been at the Casale twice in August, each one very hot and dry. It has always been comfortable.
A town pool is available a short distance from the Casale. But for fun the crater lake at Castel Gondolfo offers a volcanic beach and paddle boats, just 20 minutes away. Nemi with its lakes are adjacent to that.
Everything about the Casale is kept in very good condition and extremely clean. A housekeeper, Elvira, comes when needed. Our laundry is always immaculatey done and presented each evening in the large hall, neatly ironed and folded. My husband is always extremely spoiled. His pajamas and underwear are ironed! There is a huge table in the dining room that would seat 12 comfortably. A lovely seating arrangement in front of a huge fireplace in the living area is perfect for relaxing with a good bottle of wine. We have even roasted chestnuts in the fire!
The beds are quite comfortable - the bedrooms simple, but nicely appointed. There are three full baths in the Casale. Two upstairs, one down. We have been there with as many as 12 people, and have never had difficulty with sharing the baths. Amazing.
It is a charming farmhouse kitchen. Not too large, with a small table in the middle used for working or just sitting with a cup of coffee. It is well equipped, and fun to cook in.
Problems or Bonuses
It is no surprise that we fell in love with the Casale Sonnino and have continued to return year after year. It is our Italian home, and as soon as we leave we are planning our next trip. The owner, Clotilde Treves and her son Georgio are warm and welcoming and incredible sources or information and history. Their love of their home is apparant.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Clotilde and Georgio are often present as this is a working farm. They are the spirit of the Casale. The Casale is Clo's ancestral home, although she has lived in the US for many, many years. Both Georgio and Clotilde are extremely helpful as, of course, they are both fluent in Italian and English. We have needed medical help on occasion, and they have been invaluable. Claire Trevel Brezel represents the Casale in the US and is extremely helpful and responsive to any questions or details. The reality of the Casale exceeded the information and photographs we were first given.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We not only would recommend, we have, on several occasions. And since we have been returning since 1995 almost yearly, I think that is a recommendation in itself.
Things to do in this area
Besides just relaxing at the Casale there are myriad places and things to do. Our favorite is to enjoy the passagiata in the evenings in Frascati. The entire region seems to appear around 6pm and everyone is out enjoying the promenade with its overlook of Rome and greeting their friends. Occasionally there are puppet shows, entertainment or festivals.
Frascati also has the Aldo Brandini, a large villa imbedded in the hillside overlooking the town. A walk through their grounds is enchanting. Frascati is also the site of many villas used during Roman times. Some are still intact and wonderful to explore.
Tuscolo is a park high on a bluff where there is a Roman amphitheatre and ruins of a settlement, perhaps from Etruscan times. Here you can take walks or hike the hills or collect chestnuts in October. Also a fabulous resource for artists.
I have talked about the proximity of other towns: Castel Gandolfo, Orvieto, San Gimignano, Siena, Montepulciano, and Pienza.
There is also Palestrina, a small hill town that has one of the best Etruscan museums available, just 15-20 minutes away. Etruscan ruins remain above the town in Castel San Pietro. Subiaco, where St. Benedict built his monastery into the hillside. Two hours south is Sperlonga, a lovely seaside town; Naples, and not-to-be missed, Pompeii and Herculanium.
Restaurants abound. One does not need to cook. You can eat out every night and not exceed your food budget. From Albicocca, the best pizza and homemade lasagna ever just down the road, to Locandieri in Grottaferrata, excellent food is available. We eat at and recommend Capeletti's, a family restaurant with a full menu, I Tinneloni in MontePorzio, which is excellent, and Locandieri, a former monestary on a hillside where one can eat outside on one of their terraces or inside by the fireplace. All good food, and there are many, many more.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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