Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2115: Owner, Villa Diana
4bed/4bath villa near Todi, Umbria
May 2006, 5 nights
This villa is set on a small estate out in the country; no neighbours within view (except the sheep who visit the hillside opposite each day). Though there's no huge view, we were very happy here. You'd definitely need your own vehicle and have to not mind a brief bit of rocky "white" (dirt) road into the house. Twenty minutes' drive to Todi; 45 minutes to Orvieto. Very pleasant countryside all around, and fun to drive on the quiet country roads.
Less than 10 minutes to drive into Collelungo, the nearest village, where there's one coffee bar and one rather scary alimentari selling groceries. I think there were a couple of restaurants here, but we had no occasion to look for a meal out in the vicinity.
The house, built on a hill-side overlooking the pool, a bit of forest, a large garden and olive trees, and a sloping meadow, is only a few years old but has been built to look like a historical part of the countryside (best of both worlds). It was perfectly peaceful, quiet, private. Entrance was into the large kitchen, which extended back into an eating area with a big kitchen table and chairs and a fireplace. To the right was an open-plan medium-sized living room and a dining area. Behind the dining area was the first bathroom with tub, a large laundry room (washer, clothes rack), and through this, a back bedroom and second bathroom. Upstairs from the dining area was the master bedroom with its own little terrace and en-suite with shower, a shared bathroom, two more bedrooms (1 qu., 1 twin), and a large alcove with a crib. I think there's access from this floor onto another terrace at the back of the house.
There were many lovely places to sit outside this house: on the covered entrance patio, where there was a table for six and chairs, on the other side of the living room at the front of the house, where there was another table and chairs, on either of the terraces beside and behind the house, on the grass above the pool, or pool-side. Lots of seating options, entirely ours to enjoy. The pool was lovely (though cold during our visit) and cleaned daily by the owners, who often do a bit of gardening each day too.
The tables and chairs were all good and numerous; the smallish living room (with fireplace) just held the six of us on comfy chairs, though we sometimes also used a dining-room chair (but more often some of us spread outside). The house was clean (though being in the country, it at various times contained a number of insects; ant-traps on some of the window sills very useful). There were some books and tourist brochures, various pieces of stereo equipment, and a newish, large tv, but no telephone (and the one we were directed to in the village was out of order).
The beds ranged from satisfactory to terrible (one of the twin beds had a thin, sunken mattress that my very tolerant adult daughter just couldn't take, luckily, there was the back bedroom downstairs with a much better bed). The bedrooms had sufficient storage space and were pleasantly decorated, as was the whole house. This was really the only dismaying note of our stay. The bathrooms were abundant (four all with shower/bath), modern, and perfectly functional.
The kitchen was fun for one or two (maybe more, if you're well organized) people to cook whole meals in: in fact, we had arranged, on arrival, to have the hosts make a pizza meal for us, and they were busy doing this when we arrived. Good oven, stove, full fridge, excellent dishwasher, double sink, large island with stone counter-top. There were many pots and pans, of reasonable quality for a rental, lots of dishes and cutlery.
Problems or Bonuses
Only bad surprises: not being able to find a public phone within 20 minutes of the house and that one atrocious bed (I guess they expected a little child to be using that bedroom, but I really hope they replace that mattress soon!)
Many good surprises: the excellence of the meal the owners prepared for us six: bountiful appetizers, including fried sage-leaves; a parade of seven pizzas, prepared in the kitchen and baked outside in the wood-burning pizza oven; salad; dessert. The many nice places to sit and relax. The loveliness of the pool. The electronically controlled gate we were given the control for for coming and going, way down at the end of our driveway (just made us feel extra relaxed and private); the lizards, fireflies, cuckoos, neighbouring sheep, and the fox stalking the sheep, all of which made this an even more satisfying place to stay.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Veronica, the adult daughter of the owners Diana and Onello, was our very pleasant and charming e-mail contact, and often the one who came to water the garden or clean the pool most days (visits that they had explained ahead of time, so we were prepared for and saved up our questions for). Her parents are excellent chefs (arrange to have a meal, especially on your arrival day! They'll e-mail you their menu) and very pleasant people. Veronica's English is quite good, and her mom's improves as the summer goes on, she explained! The web-site photos can't really do the place justice, though they're as accurate as possible I guess. We paid 1200 euro for a five night stay, a third in advance and the rest (plus a damage deposit) in cash on arrival, plus 18 euro per person for a monumental, memorable meal. The pizza-party cost and house wine (scrumptious) and beer, water, honey, or oil just gets deducted out of the damage deposit at the end.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We loved this rental (although my husband's hay-fever was at its worst here, out in the breezy spring country, even he was happy to be here). The less than perfect beds (I'd ask whether they'd replaced any if booking again) and lack of telephone (I'd ask about that too!!) were more than made up for by the tranquillity and loveliness of the house and setting.
Things to do in this area
We really chilled out at Villa Diana, not even exploring nearby Todi much (except the day we accidentally drove our van right into the heart of the old city, where I'm sure only residents with tiny cars were actually permitted: had to fold in the side-view mirrors. We resumed breathing only after exiting). Our favourite restaurant was our villa, when Diana was cooking! We did spend a good 1/2 day wandering around Orvieto; and we would have enjoyed the beautiful drive over toward Spoleto if we hadn't been behind stunningly slow trucks (no passing opportunities to speak of unless you're a native Italian) but Spoleto itself was more under scaffolding than not, unfortunately. Drove to Marmore Falls, arriving just when they turned the water off (which takes quite a while to diminish the flow: interesting to see these massive falls slowly dwindle - check web-site or local tourist information for the hours of the falls).
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