Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2065: Italian Town and Country, Casa Zia (or Casa Zingoni)
5bed/5.5bath house near Pienza & Montepuliciano, Tuscany South
May 2006, 1 week
The Villa was located 10 minutes off the main road near La Foce Gardens up a very rugged and steep dirt road. There were not any other houses very close by and you had to drive a good bit to get basics. It was very private with an amazing view of the Tuscan countryside!
The nearest grocery store was several miles away after you drove the 10 minutes to get down the driveway. Most of the time we just had the housekeeper pick up anything we would need for the next day and she would bring it in the morning. Also, the rental agency had us write a grocery list of everything we wanted there when we arrived so we were pretty well stocked.
The house exceeded our expectations!! It is owned by a interior decorator so it just simply stunning! It is a very old restored farm house built up on a hill overlooking the whole valley. Each bedroom was totally different and beautiful! This homeowner thought of everything!!! The bathrooms were so fun and whimsical! They had very big comfy towels and bathrobes and blow dryers in each bathroom. They even had soap made especially by the homeowner. She owns a home decorating shop in Rome and has all her furniture and decorations made for her. There were three double bedrooms and two bedrooms with two twins in each of them . Each bedroom had its own bathroom. There is a huge fireplace in the living room that we kept going going all the time. The wood was provided for us with the rental. Off the living room and dinning room was a lovely vine covered terrace that had great seating and dining furniture to sit and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. It also had a small vegetable garden that was for the sole use of the renters.
The terrace and the garden was a big "wow" factor with our group. We really enjoyed sitting out there and having a glass of wine in the late afternoons as Graziella, our housekeeper, prepared us a feast!
The furniture was really comfortable and had plenty of seating for everyone (both indoor and outdoor). There was even a game table in the living room. The house was very clean and kept so by the hard working housekeeper! She was also available to do extra cleaning, laundry, and cooking if needed for €13.00 an hr.
The beds and bedding were the nicest I have ever seen in a villa rental. This rental has been featured in several magazines articles before and with good reason!
The kitchen seemed small on the website and it was almost a deal breaker for us because we love to cook. Boy, were we wrong! It was the most functional and well laid out kitchen I have ever cooked in!!!! My sister in law and I took almost a roll of film in just the kitchen so we could hopefully implement some of the great ideas in our own kitchens! It was equipped with everyhing you would ever want or need in order to cook!! It had every shape and size of pan you could hope for in your own kitchen! There were also plenty of dishes, glasses, and serving pieces.
Problems or Bonuses
The beauty of the house and terrace was such a fun surprise! The website just does not capture the true beauty of the place. The other nice surprise was the meals cooked for us by the housekeeper. We had her cook our first meal when we arrived and loved it so much we decided to have her cook four of the seven nights! There was just something special about coming home after a day of exploring to the table being set and the smell of dinner cooking! She is the best cook!
The only negative surprise was the 10-15 minute drive on the dirt driveway to get to and from the house!!! It added so much travel time to anything we did. In the rental agency information they say Pienza is 15 minutes away but it is really more like 30 because they are not allowing the time of the driveway! I really think they should have let that be known with their description of the property. Some people like that kind of seclusion. But I figured with our often "two trips a day" down that driveway I spent 5-7 hours of my trip just on the driveway!! I think the owner does well trying to make up for the distance to have to go pick up anything by keeping the house well stocked with all the basics you would need including cereal, pasta, coffee, flour, spices, bottled water, etc. The house even provides bottles of wine that you just pay the retail cost for what you use. They had a good selection of choices in several prices.
One other slight disappointment was the pool being so far from the house. Again, it was a bit deceptive on the website. When you are at the pool you are very removed from the house and everyone else. It wouldn't matter that much unless you had small children. Even with these concerns I would highly recommend this house if you want to have a good quiet base to explore southern Tuscany.
Note from SlowTrav: According to Italian Town and Country's website, Pienza is now listed as a 30 minute drive.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
John, the owner of Italian Town and Country was very helpful and enjoyable to deal with. I was a little scared at first because they do not take credit cards. It is a little un-nerving to send that kind of money to a complete stranger. But, it was no problem at all. You get your 1,000.00 security deposit back a week after your rental is up. They just send you back your check. They were quick to respond to any concerns I had and were very patient with my endless questions!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would highly recommend this house and agency to anyone! You will not be disapointed in the house!!!! The only drawback was the distance to the road. If that doesn't bother you then I think this is probably one of the best rentals in the area. The location for day trips in southern Tuscany is perfect and it is pretty close to the A1 in Chiusi. In fact taking a train to Chiusi and renting the car there is a easy way to arrive.
Things to do in this area
The house is located on the same private road that La Foce Manor and gardens in on. The gardens are only open on Wednesday afternoon from 3-7. We loved going there especially after reading "The War in Val D'Orcia" by Iris Origo. It is a diary account kept during World War Two of what was happening in that area during the German occupation and then the liberation in 1944. We think our Villa was one of the original farm houses that belonged to the estate. Read the book if you're planning on staying in the area!
We took day trips to Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Cortona and even Assisi though that was a bit further. The town of Chiusi and Sarteano both nearby had a lot to offer.
We really enjoyed our dinner at Zaira located in Chiusi.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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