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Review 1794: TuscanHouse, La Porta

www.tuscanhouse.com

Recommended
Review by kaydee from TN who is a SlowTrav Contributor

2bed/2bath house in village near Buonconvento, Tuscany South


La Porta (looking down from the top of the hill - the house extends across the street), photo by Kathy Wood

When

May/June 2005, One month

Review

La Porta is a unique village house set in the thousand-year old walls of a tiny village near Buonconvento in the "Crete" area of southern Tuscany. We stayed here for a month as part of our 14-month "Grand Tour" of Europe. We were very pleased with La Porta for our month-long stay. It is a comfortable and very authentic house with some important modern conveniences and is very economical for a longer stay.

The house has an interesting configuration. There's a small outdoor terrace, which provides a nice place to sunbathe, have an evening drink, and hang out the washing to dry. The front door opens into a spacious anteroom (kind of a bonus room). To the left is the living room/dining room/kitchen. The living area has a small couch, an easy chair and a low table that holds a CD player. Most of the room is occupied by a big wooden table with benches. The table comfortably seats six people and possibly more. There's a huge stone fireplace at the end of the room.

The kitchen area is compact and rustic, but we did fine for a month and cooked dinner here most nights. We actually fixed some pretty elaborate meals. There's a full-size refrigerator, four-burner stove, and a big stone sink. I'm not sure if there is a traditional oven, but I also don't remember wishing there was one. We had everything we needed to fix meals and there was a good supply of cooking staples. There is very limited counter space, but we used the big wooden table as an extension of the counter. We washed our dishes by hand.

The house has two big and very comfortable bedrooms, each with their own bath. One bedroom (off the entry room) has a queen size bed. The adjoining bathroom has a decent shower. When we closed the shutters, this room got quite dark.

The other bedroom is reached through a second good-size "bonus room" and is actually on the other side of the street! We would joke and say that our daughter had to sleep across the street, but that's because the house is built into an arch that extends over the tiny street below. The second bedroom is huge and very bright - maybe the best room any of us slept in during our long trip. It extends the width of the house with windows on both sides, with an absolutely fantastic view looking out across the countryside. On a clear day you can probably see 25 miles. The second bedroom has two twin beds, set very close together. There's also a very comfortable chaise lounge right by the window with the great view - my favorite spot in the house. The second bedroom also has an adjoining bathroom with shower. The bathroom also has a great view ... and a clothes washing machine.

The house is decorated with interesting antiques. The beds are comfortable with attractive bed coverings and good linens. There's a good supply of towels and a library of books, magazines, and even a few CDs. The house does have a phone, but there is not a television. The house was quite cool, even in late June, because of the thick stone walls. It also helped to keep the shutters closed during the sunniest part of the day. There were a couple of fans provided. We were very happy in this unique little house, which seemed surprisingly spacious.

You must be fairly mobile to stay here, and you will get some good exercise. We could drive our car up a tiny street to get pretty close to the house for loading and unloading. Later we discovered a back way up the hill where we could load and unload groceries in a small area by a senior citizens home that now occupies what remains of the old castle. Then we parked the car in one of a couple of spots in the village. So there is some hiking up and down to access the house.

The village is not a major tourist destination. It's quite small, maybe 120 people. There's a little general store that seems to be a central congregation point for people in the village. The shop owners were very friendly to our family. In the main square there's a restaurant with outdoor tables where we ate a few times. There's also a cafe with an outdoor terrace, but we never ended up eating there. Our favorite eating place was the little pizzeria down at the base of the village, which had good food at very reasonable prices. We enjoyed getting to know the husband-and-wife owners. You will have a chance to experience "real" village life, and we found the local residents always very pleasant.

We did our grocery shopping in Buonconvento, about 20 minutes away. There's an internet cafe in Buonconvento with a couple of stations. Within 30 minutes you can easily reach other popular places like Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. We enjoyed the hot springs at Bagno Vignoni. Siena is only a 40 minute drive.

Zak was very helpful in answering many questions prior to our visit. La Porta has a two-week minimum rental, so this is ideal for someone who wants a more extended place to stay in Tuscany. In fact, during our month, we met two different expatriates who had rented La Porta for extended times while they were transitioning to their new lives in Italy.

For more information about La Porta and our month in Tuscany, see my blog at: www.slowtrav.com/blog/kaydee/archives/000874.html

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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