Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1813: Castello di Lamole, L'Ovile
apartments on an estate in Lamole, near Greve, Tuscany Chianti
2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2 weeks
In July 2000, we made our first trip to Chianti and consider ourselves very lucky to have found the "gem" that is the Castello di Lamole. Since then we have been back on 3 occasions (mostly for 2 week spells) and we plan to go back again in 2006. We have truly fallen in love with the place.
Situated some 600 metres up in the Chianti mountains, the Castello benefits from wonderful views across the tops of the pine trees down towards Florence, some 20 miles away. On our first trip we stayed in L'Ovile which is a charming 1 bedroomed cottage with kitchen come lounge. It is absolutely perfect for a couple and has it's own private patio area, just ideal for those barbecue's or long, lazy lunches. It is perched atop the walls of the Castello and the outlook is wonderful. Sunsets in June and July are spectacular.
On our second visit in 2001, we went at the end of July and temperatures were in the high 30's celcius but the lovely breeze and the close proximity of the swimming pool meant that we never got too hot. At night time, we slept with the shuttered windows open looking out to the starry skies. No air conditioning was necessary! The pool itself is quite small but prefectly adequate and you feel as though you are swimmining in the middle of a forest!
The Castello is owned by the Marasco family. Jacopo is the main contact there and his father Ricardo is a very well known Florentine folk singer. Mother Virginia is just lovely and very helpful. You can even purchase some of Ricardo's CD's and he regularly features at night and on Sunday lunchtime at the Aia dei Canti which is the restuarant at the Castello serving traditional Tuscan dishes supported by a rather good wine list.
In terms of location, it cannot be faulted. About 4 miles away is the market town of Greve in Chianti which has a supermarket and wide choice of restaurants and cafes. There is a weekly market every Saturday in the square which is presided over by the statue of one of its most famous sons, Giovanni di Verrazano, better known as the man who discovered New York! A 5 minute walk heading uphill from the Castello is the hamlet of Lamole which has a shop, restaurant and church.
Slightly further away is the town of Panzano which makes an interesting alternative to Greve. Go there on a Sunday and visit Dario the local butcher and treat yourself to one of his bistecca Fiorentina or some porchetta. He will shortly be featuring on Jamie Oliver's programme on Channel 4 (England) based on his visit to Italy.
During our first trip we went to Siena (25 miles away) to attend the Palio and we also went to Florence to OD on some culture! We have been to Florence on numerous occasions since then, using Castello di Lamole as our base. For those of you fearful of driving into Florence and getting lost, you can always catch a bus in Greve and that takes you straight into the city centre for a couple of Euros.
Every time we go back to the Castello, we wonder if this will be our last time. Having just made a booking for next year I can confirm that we will once again be taking in the wonderful views as we make our ascent from Greve up past Vinamaggio (allegedly the birthplace of the Mona Lisa) and Casole to the Castello. Chris started to cry as we neared the Castello this year. It is such a special place for us and it will always be in our hearts.
If you do decide to go there and chill out for a week or so, you will find the Marasco family unfailingly helpful. We have been fortunate enough to view most of the properties and this year we are going to a different apartment at the Castello which has a view up towards Lamole over the vineyards which produce the famous Chianti Classico!! The Castello di Lamole offers solitude, peace and quiet and above all a sense of wellbeing and calm. That does not mean that you will not meet people. We met 2 of our best friends (Anne and Rolf from Oslo) when we went there in 2001 and have become regular vistors to each other since then.
The highest possible recommendation has been that we have had no hesitation in taking friends and family with us on 2 or 3 ocassions and likewise they have been suitably impressed by this wonderful place. It is almost impossible to find criticism with the Castello. We did not go there desperately trying to find fault as people can always find something to moan about, but if you want a truly great experience this is the place for you especilally if it may be your first visit to Italy.
Yes. Apart from the Castello, the nearest restauarnt is the Ristoro di Lamole (excellent) which also houses a small grocery store.
Yes, yes and yes. The layout in L'Ovile where we stayed comprises of a lounge/kitchen (with sofa bed), up a small flight of steps to a bathroom with shower and then through to the large bedroom with wardrobe and chest of drawers. The patio has a table and chairs and there are sun lomgers. There are six other apartments at the Castello all of which are well appointed and in character with the area.
Large private patio area with steps leading down to the pool about 30 yards away. Not suitable for those with mobility difficulties as the path down to the pool is quite steep.
Furniture in good shape, comfortable, cottage was clean, enough seating. Four chairs at the table plus sofa and 2 armchairs. Great for entertaining!
Very comfortable bed. Bathroom is quite small but there is a bidet and a shower.
Kitchen was ideal. Gas hob (stovetop) but no oven. Fridge plus plently of utensils. We enjoyed cooking in the kitchen but BBQ's were mostly order of the day when we cooked at home.
Problems or Bonuses
No problems but the real bonus from L'Ovile was the view, although most of the other apartments have stunning views as well.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The price is competitive and fair. We deal directly with the Castello. On our first visit I would say that the information given beforehand satisfactorily described what we were going to get.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I think our opening description says it all. For a couple of 50-somethings who have been around the world a few times, this is right up there with the very best.
Things to do in this area
Again, please refer to our main review but there is a huge choice of restaurants in the area. The Castello is excellent as is Ristoro di Lamole. Good restuarants in Panzano and nearby Volpaie but arrived at via dirt track.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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