Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2056: Poderi Val Verde, La Bellavista
apartments, cottage, house on estate near Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany Chianti
May 2005, one week
Poderi Val Verde is in the beautiful Chianti countryside, and feels quite remote and lovely. Adjacent properties cannot be seen, the estate looks and feels very large. It is located just a few kilometers north of Castellina in Chianti on the road to San Donato.
Although we did not do this, it is possible to walk into Castellina in Chianti. I would estimate it is a 20-30 minute walk.
The property provides mountain bikes and has hikes in the countryside. The owner also provides cooking classes.
The building our apartment was in was built in the 16th century. In fact, our space was carved out of the hayloft. We stayed in the apartment called La Bellavista. It has about 55 square meters, and this year the cost for a week is E632. It is possible to get a 10% discount if you book way ahead, and a 15% discount for a last minute booking. See website for details. There are nine apartments in all, some can be combined if your group is large, because they have adjoining doors.
The pool is large and beautiful, set in a gorgeous green space, full of small statuary, flowers, sitting areas, and the water is clear and cool. There are both large areas that are shared, however, it is possible to be a sitting "spot" away from others. In addition, several of the apartments, such as ours, have their own private terrace. Poderi Val Verde is wonderful for spending entire days relaxing on the property, soaking up the Chianti atmosphere, reading a good book, taking a swim, sunbathing, napping in the cool, thick-stoned apartment.
There are two swimming pools but we did not use the other one because it was farther away from our building.
The apartment was extremely cozy, and one of the things I loved best about staying at Poderi Val Verde. While the furniture was not new, it was plentiful and comfortable. The look in the living area was a bit like family hand-me-downs, or furniture found in local auctions. It didn't have a "matched" look or feel about it. The bedroom furniture was antique looking, with a more coordinated look/feel to it.
The apartment really made me feel it was our little home away from home. Definitely not upscale, but full of comfort. Coming "home" each day was a treat.
The bed was VERY comfortable. The top "sheet" was a thin double-layered, filled flannel duvet, which at first made me think we would be too warm. NOT SO! It was perfect. We left the window open at night, and the air was quite cool, making that topping so cozy, warm, comfy, and with an oh-so-hard-to-get-up-in-the-morning feeling to it. Just thinking about it makes me want to sleep there.
We had one bathroom with a shower to die for. It was built into the rafter area, and had two levels. Hard to explain, I'll provide a photo. Plenty of room inside it for hanging clothes to dry. The sink and counter area was small, but was not a problem.
The kitchen was small, with plenty of kitchenware for our purposes. We do not cook much, so I really cannot comment on how things would work out for big meals. But for eating cereal, yogurt, sandwiches, etc., it was great. I learned to make my espressos using a moka that was provided, and thought that was great fun. A moka has three parts, is made of heavy base metal, and is hexagonal. Water in the bottom, coffee in the middle, and the bubbled up coffee ends up in the top part. It was delicious.
Problems or Bonuses
We were even MORE pleased with the actual place than the website led us to imagine. And I find her website really great!
Ulrike has some wonderful pets, several dogs, in particular. We are dog nuts! However, there are wild boar running around at night on the property, and she allows the dogs to bark at them. And bark they do! Way too long, way too near. This was the only downside to staying there. I didn't have the nerve to tell her that I found the barking annoying. It would be nice if she would let the dogs have a little fun, and then call them in and make them be quiet.
Several nights we actually heard the boars snorting around. Which was neat! It sounded and felt quite wild.
The parking for our apartment was on higher ground, and carting our luggage to and from the apartment was a bit of a task. I think she would help those who need it. It would be a good question to ask when booking a room.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The estate is owned and run by Ulrike. She speaks German, Italian, and English very, very well! She is EXTREMELY organized and matter-of-fact. She has thought of everything in terms of business policies, rules, details. We found this to be both helpful and off-putting. But, by the end of our stay, as we were checking out, we realized that we had misread her personality. She is warmer than we perceived. We did not take advantage of all she had to offer onsite, like cooking classes, hikes on the property, etc. Had we done that, we would have realized much earlier that she "liked" us and wanted us to have a great time.
When you get to the room, you will find a notebook on the dining table chock full of helpful information for the property, the area, the region, including restaurants, places to see, etc. You will also find "The Rules" (my quotes). That is probably what gave us the impression that we had better behave or else. :-) The upside of the rules is that it keeps everything running smoothly, no surprises.
We should have been better Slow Travelers while staying there, and taken more time to enjoy all that Ulrike provides for her guests. Everyday, we were off in the car going to other parts of Chianti.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We will definitely stay there again if we plan a Chiantishire vacation in the future. I will be more upfront and ask Ulrike if she would keep the dogs from barking so much at night.
Things to do in this area
There are any number of fun things to do and see in the surrounding area in the villages of Chianti: Greve, Castellina, Radda, Panzano, etc. The location is perfect for seeing all those towns.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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