Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1835: Rentvillas, Villa Il Greto
6bed/5bath villa on the outskirts of Florence, Florence
Oct 1 - 8, 2005, one week
Villa Il Greto is located in the town of Bagno A Ripoli, 6 km. from the center of Florence. It is a 15 minute taxi ride to the major sights in the city and can also be reached by bus, but the bus schedules are not very convenient. The villa is at tne intersection of two well traveled roads so there is some road noise but it did not disrupt the peace and beauty of the estate. The views from the villa were of the rural countryside. We found the location to be excellent for experiencing the more tranquil life outside the city, but with easy access to Florence and other towns.
We did not have a car and used taxi cabs to go into the city of Florence. There are two restaurants within easy walking distance from the villa. One is directly across the street from the side gate of the estate and is a typical Tuscan trattoria with excellent food and a charming and welcoming host and staff. We were a party of 10, including two little girls and were made to feel like family each time we went in for dinner. There is also a lively bar on the lower level, enjoyed by the young adults in our group.
The nearest grocery store can be reached by foot (500 meters) from the estate and is a full service supermarket. It is not open on Sunday so finding groceries on a Sunday can be a challenge.
The building has been restored from a 13th century convent and has been split into two villas, sharing a common wall but made private by the use of separate stone walls and gates to define the properties. The restoration was beautifully done and you will definitely feel as though you are in a real Tuscan villa. The floors are all tile, there are original wood beams and vaulted ceilings and the windows and doors all have wood shutters that can be closed over the glass. The villa was spotlessly clean, quality linens and towels were in ample supply and the furnishings are were comfortable and attractive.
The villa has three levels, two of which have a living room, dining room and kitchen, so the house could easily be shared by two families who would like some independence from each other. For large families like mine, the main floor had everything we needed so we didn't need to use the kitchen or living room on the second floor. The first floor kitchen has a table that seats 14 and a commercial quality stainless steel range.
The villa has a large loggia equipped with table and chairs for up to 10 people. There is also a second, small covered patio directly off one of the first floor bedrooms, also equipped with outdoor furniture.
There is a large swimming pool, lots of outdoor furniture around the pool and a second, raised loggia overlooking the pool that offers a view of the Duomo in Florence. The pool and grounds around the estate are totally private, with a wall and remote controlled security gates, making it a very safe environment for children.
As mentioned above, the furniture was comfortable, plentiful and fit the style of the house. The villa was very clean and three hours of cleaning service are provided Monday through Friday. This included all the bathrooms cleaned thoroughly and the beds made up.
The beds were comfortable and had lovely coverlets and matching draperies. Most of the bedrooms had antique armoirs for clothing storage. Five bathrooms were more than adequate and had nice fixtures and much tile. We had no trouble with adequate hot water but were careful not to all try to take showers at the same time.
The kitchen on the first floor was huge and was the gathering place for our family. It was well equipped with cooking utensils, pot and pans, small appliances and loads of dishes and serving pieces. The only thing lacking was good knives for food prep but I don't blame the owner for not providing them as they would likely get ruined. I enjoyed cooking and had no problem making full meals for our large group and additional guests.
Problems or Bonuses
We were a little disappointed in the bus system, having counted on using buses rather than taxis but found it too cumbersome and difficult to figure out. There is a bus stop just outside the gate of the villa but the bus doesn't go directly into Florence. You have to go into Bagno a Ripoli and change to another bus there. The taxi service was excellent, however and we had a cab within ten minutes, every time we called for one.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The booking agency was very helpful and easy to work with. I used both the telephone and email to communicate and was able to speak with and correspond with the same agent each time.
The on-sight person (Massimo) was delightful and very anxious to please. He does not speak much English but we had no problem communicating with our meager Italian and his smattering of English. The owner of the villa (Sylvia) speaks excellent English and was available at any time by phone and also stopped by the villa several times to be sure we had no problems.
The photos and description of the Villa on the agency website offered accurate and complete information. We had no surprises as we were fully informed of what to expect. The Villa and estate are actually more beautiful than the photos show it. The rental for the villa was $3898 for the week.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would definitely stay here again! I would recommend this property to family and friends.
We debated a lot about the need for a car before going on vacation and managed quite well without one but could also see the advatages of having one. Driving in a foreign country can be daunting but does provide a different kind of freedom. In order to visit Siena and the Chianti region, we booked a day long tour with an agency that provided an 8 passenger van and English speaking driver/guide. It was a great way to tour, without the hassle of reading road maps, getting lost etc. and we felt it was an excelent value. We booked (from home via email) with La Dolce Vita tours and would use them again. In fact, we liked them so much that we engaged them to provide a bus and driver to take us to the airport in Bologna the day we departed for home.
Things to do in this area
Florence is filled with history and art and you could easily spend your entire vacation there. It is also near Pisa, Lucca, Siena, and the beautiful wine country of the Chianti region. Rome is 1 1/2 hours away by Eurostar train.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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