Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1969: Owner, Casina di Rosa
1bed/1bath house in Civitella Marittima, Tuscany West
March 2005, 1 week
Casina di Rosa is located inside the walls of Civitella Marittima, a small, quiet, medieval Tuscan hill town. The narrow little "streets" do not easily accommodate automobiles, so walking is definitely the way to get around. The casina is located near the edge of town, and a parking space is provided about 50 meters from the front door. It was very easy to drive in and out of the town from the parking space, and very easy to walk between the casina and the parking space.
As in other old Tuscan hill towns, buildings are crowded next to and on top of each other. You have neighbors on all sides of you except above, since you're on the top floor! However, we never felt our privacy was disturbed in any way.
Although the driving time between Civitella and the next nearest town is small, 15 minutes or so, Civitella itself is isolated, situated atop a steep hill. Once you are comfortable inside Casina di Rosa, be prepared for a quiet, relaxing time with a book or your traveling companion, some vino, bread and pecorino from the nearby grocery.
If you're looking for a comfortable home inside a medieval Tuscan hill town, with views out the windows of the surrounding rolling green countryside, look no further than Casina di Rosa.
As we mentioned earlier, walking is the best way to get around in town, due to the narrow roads. Also, one can walk the entire length of town in less than 15 minutes, so everything is close by.
There are two small grocery stores and a bakery in town for food and other supplies. If there is something you want or need and can't find it here, there is a larger town about 15 minutes away that has a shopping mall and a larger grocery store.
There is at least one tavern in town that we never went to, preferring instead the congenial atmosphere of one of the best restaurants we ate at in all of Tuscany, La Locanda nel Cassero, which also has a tavern/bar area. Americans be warned: this isn't a spot for a quick bite before a movie! A meal at La Locanda is an event; expect to spend at least a couple hours here enjoying a meal in the proper Tuscan style. Don't skip a course: have apperativi, antipasti, primi, secondi, etc., and definitely dolci. Wash it all down with a bottle of Chianti or two.
Everything within the walls of Civitella is historical, including the Casina di Rosa. The interior is a perfect blend of historical and functional, having been built by Gloria's grandfather 100 years ago. Both the bath and kitchen are completely modern.
There are three basic living areas: living room, bedroom, and kitchen, all quite small, but lovingly decorated and quite comfortable. Our favorite place to hang out was the kitchen. This was mainly because we were out in the countryside during the daytime, and usually home just to eat and sleep. But also, there was a fireplace in the kitchen (wood provided by your hosts!). We loved sitting in front of the fireplace, sipping vino, and warming ourselves on the cold March evenings before slipping into the comfy queen-sized bed in the bedroom.
It should be pointed out that Casina di Rosa has no central heating. Since we were there in March and the temperatures were actually quite cool, especially at night, we limited our enjoyment of Casina di Rosa to the bedroom and kitchen. The owners, Marcel and Gloria, have provided you with a portable gas-powered heater that can easily be moved from room to room. We used it to warm the bedroom, preferring to warm the kitchen with wood in the fireplace.
The living room is quite lovely, but due to the circumstances of our vacation planning (day trips away from home) and the time of year (cool March), we did not spend much time in the living room.
There is no secluded garden area, although the front steps are lovely for sitting and sipping coffee in the morning sun. There are plenty of potted plants about, which add tremendously to the warmth of the steps.
All the furniture is in perfect condition, and stylistically suited for an old Tuscan home. There is an large, comfy couch in the living room upon which you could curl up with a good book. There is a kitchen table around which four adults could easily dine.
Both bed and bath are nice and comfortable. The bathroom is completely modern. No problem at all here. There was a washing machine(though don't worry when it takes three hours to do a load of laundry: apparently that is normal length of time in Italy!) and a line to use to hang dry your clothes.
Kitchen was totally awesome, including all the service items you'd need, plus two types of coffee maker, plenty of pots and pans, etc, gas range and oven. And the fireplace. Yum!
Not only that, but Gloria and Marcel had left a basket of goodies for us: pasta, some ragu, a bottle of wine, etc. There was Nescafe-type coffee, salt and pepper and a few other spices, olive oil, vinegar. So nice to have a pantry stocked with the essentials!
Problems or Bonuses
Our surprise was a bonus. We spent Holy Week here, which was highlighted by the Via Cruces (Way of the Cross) in which the local parishioners circled the town to commemorate Jesus' trek to the mount and his suffering there. There were several shrines erected about the town, one of which was directly in front of Casina di Rosa. The parishioners proceed from one shrine to the next by candlelight, stopping briefly at each shrine, incanting holy scriptures, then proceeding to the next. We watched from our kitchen window. This was an excellent experience for us, one that we couldn't have planned for, although owner Gloria had made a list of special Holy Week events, including this one, for our information. We participated by lighting candles in the window.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Owner Gloria, who inherited the property from her grandmother, and Marcel, from Canada, were the best hosts you could imagine. Both speak flawless English. Every detail of the booking process was handled promptly and professionally. When we needed to contact them, they were readily available and responsive to our needs and requests.
Upon our arrival, they showed us everything we needed to know about the casina, the surrounding town and the surrounding region. They went to the trouble of creating a guide to the town and region, they set us up with much-needed cellular phone service, and provided us with maps and recommendations.
Casina di Rosa exceeded our expectations. It's actually better than the published descriptions.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would stay here again, and recommend Casina di Rosa, Gloria and Marcel to anyone and everyone. Casina di Rosa will always remain a cherished memory, and we will definitely return someday, at the very least to see Gloria and Marcel.
Things to do in this area
Although technically "Tuscany West", Civitella is actually quite central, just 30 kilometers south of Siena. Therefore, much of Tuscany and parts of Umbria are convenient day destinations from Civitella. While staying here, we traveled as far north as Pisa and back in one day, took in the Tuscan Coast, visited Firenze and Siena, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pitigliano (recommended!), and southern Umbria. Definitely drive up Monte Amiata- for stupendous views. And if you don't have a meal at La Locanda nel Cassero, you've seriously missed one of the best meals you'll ever experience.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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