Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1790: Vacanza Bella, Villa Molinazzo
villa, sleeps 10 + 4, Guardea, Umbria
September, 2005, 1 week
Villa Molinazzo is located on a gorgeous piece of property in the countryside of Southern Umbria. Orvieto is about 20 minutes, Todi 40 minutes. This is a good location to see these towns, the smaller towns of Amelia and Narni (that we never made it to) and Lazio. It is not however, the best location from which to see the other "name" towns in Umbria that we were interested in visiting such as Assisi, Perguia, Spello, Spoleto, Trevi, Bevagna and Montefalco (all at least 1 hour away) which made for a lot of driving.
You need a car in this location, as nothing is walkable. The nearest town, Guardea, is about 10 minutes or so away and has a good size grocery store and other shops where you could find anything you would need. There were a few restaurants and bars but we only shopped for grocereies there.
I had wanted to stay in this villa, ever since reading RG Diamond's stellar review in 2002. It definitely lived up to it's reputation. It was absolutely beautiful in every aspect. A totally renovated farmhouse, every room looks as if it should be in House Beautiful and is decorated in suberb taste. Antiques abound, but it does not feel untouchable or sterile. It is a totally independent villa, neighbors are too far away to even be seen when you are sitting in most of the outside areas. It is incredibily peaceful and serene.
The main villa has 5 bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms, plus another 1/2 bathroom off the kitchen. There is also a detached guest house with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths, so that a total of 14 people could stay here. The detached house is not rented out if you are not using it. This is a great house for a group, because the bedrooms are more or less equal (the master suite is a bit more grand), so that no couple would feel unhappy in any of the bedrooms. We ended up with the master suite as the couple who had first choice wanted a bedroom with a balcony view of the countryside.
The ground floor includes; a large, very well equipped eat-in kitchen, a huge dining room that comfortably seats 16 and has a fireplace, a large living room with a picture window that shows off the panoramic countryside views and also has a fireplace, and a TV room with a library and desk. The master suite is downstairs with a sitting room that contains a sofa, TV and computer that provides internet access for a minimal fee.
The outside areas of the house were almost nicer than the beautifully decorated inside rooms. I have never seen so many beautiful outside sitting areas, each more beautiful than the last, in one place. Outside of every door on the first floor was a spot to take in the stunning views. These ranged from a small patio with a table and 2 chairs outside the master suite, to a lounging patio under the picture window in the living room, to a an outside covered living room - I kid you not! This was a great spot to watch sunsets. There was also an outside eating area and barbeque.
Up a path was a good sized pool and tennis courts, neither of which we used as it was a bit too cool. The views from this elevated area were also spectacular.
As this is a totally refurbished villa, all of the furniture was new and comfortable. There was more than enough seating for our group of 8, and could have comfortably handled 16. The house was spotless and the villa came with 2 hours of house cleaning a day by the friendly Mariella. This was great if we were in a hurry in the morning we could leave our dishes and she took care of the garbage for us on a daily basis. We also requested a towel change mid-week that we were not charged extra for.
All the beds are relatively new, this being a refurbished villa and as such were very comfortable. And of course all of the bedrooms were spacious. The bathrooms, as well as being beautifully decorated, were fabulous and in top notch working order. The antique mirrors in the bedrooms and bathrooms were so pretty. I kept imagining an interior decorator having a ball decorating this place, each nook and cranny was more exquisite than the last.
The kitchen was huge and had every cooking utensil you could ever think of needing. It was a great kitchen for cooking full meals and we had 3 dinners at "home". The only complaint was that the refrigerator had a hum to it that sounded like a phone was off the hook. It also did not not have a large supply of "stock" items such as spices, olive oil or vinegar. It had some, but not enough to get us through the week.
Problems or Bonuses
No surprises. The villa was all that I expected and more. The website pictures are beautiful but not as beautiful as the villa is in the flesh.
Mariella, the housekeeper was very nice and between our poor Italian and her English we got by. We had arranged for her to make dinner for us our first night and it was a very good caprese salad, baked chicken, pasta with mushroom sauce, green salad and tiramusu. She left it for us and we warmed it up.
Another lovely touch was that the owners left me a beautiful coffee table picture book "Umbria Land of Harmony" by Giancarlo Gasponi as a thank you for renting their villa. Luckily, it was addressed to me so I got to keep it!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Daniel Morneau of Vacanza Bella was very professional and nice to work with. I did not need to be in contact with him too much as I was sure this is the villa we wanted to rent and it was available for the dates we wanted. As we reserved, a year in advance, he split the payments into 4 segments. Our $750 security deposit was returned in full within a week of returning. Mariella met one of the couples on site at a pre-arranged time and showed her how everything worked. We saw her briefly on a daily basis but really did need to much help from her. She arrived promptly at 8am on the day of departure to check utility use which was negligible.
This is not an inexpensive villa, but split with 3 other couples it was affordable and the quality of everthing about the villa was worth every penny.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
If I was part of a group that wanted to explore Southern Umbria and Lazio, I would stay here again in a heartbeat. This was truely a luxurious and magnificant villa!
Things to do in this area
Orvieto with it's beautiful Duomo, interesting caves, many great restaurants and some of the best ceramics in all of Italy are nearby. A bit further out are the wonderful hilltowns of Umbria; Assisi, Bevagna, Perguia, Montefalco, Trevi, Spello, Spoleto and Todi, to name only the ones we managed to see. I have reviewed the restaurants we ate at in Umbria on this site.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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