Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2127: Tizzo della Torre, Apartment
apartments near Figline Valdarno, Tuscany Chianti
May 14-21, 2006, 1 week
This lovely historic apartment was in a converted outbuilding on an authentic organic farm only a few miles from Florence. The ancient stone building was divided into upper and lower apartments that overlooked the beautiful vineyard, lush valley and wooded hills. The apartment was perfect for the two of us, and we loved having the options of cooking for ourselves, dining out or joining the owner's family for dinner. The apartment was a five minute walk from the main house and we could enjoy as much or as little privacy as we chose. A non-related house was set quite close to the apartment, but did not intrude. It was exactly the setting we were looking for. We loved it.
We love to walk, so we often would trek the 20-35 minutes into Figline to check out the shops, gelaterias and flea markets, pick up groceries at the Coop or catch the train for day trips to Arezzo, Siena, the Cinque Terre or Florence. With a little notice, we also could find a ride with one of the family into the train station, which we did especially if time was short or we had luggage to tote. By choice, we did not ever rent a car, and enjoyed the train travel through the fascinating countryside.
The building that contains the two apartments was indeed historical. I wish I would have asked how old it was. The apartment was designed and decorated in characteristic Tuscan farm style and was charming and comfortable. It was essentially two rooms. The main room was set up for cooking, dining and sitting, the other was a nice sized bedroom with a shower and bathroom.
There were two outside sitting areas. My favorite was in back of the building, because it had a rustic stone wall with an array of flowers growing in the ground and in pots around it. It was set with a simple patio table and chairs, and it just felt right. The view from the front sitting area was partially blocked by an outbuilding, but then it is a working farm and with that understanding, it didn't detract a lot. We just moved to the other side and enjoyed truly authentic Tuscan county living. Since there were only two apartments, we had lots of privacy.
The furniture was sort of a rural Tuscan "shabby chic." It was clean and charming and met the needs for two adults quite nicely. The weather was gorgeous and we spent most of our time outdoors, on day trips or cooking and eating with the owner's family, which was a delightful option. Gracia is a fabulous cook and it was really fun to learn some tricks from her in her very own kitchen. It has THREE stoves. I was very impressed. The dinners that we ate with them were unbelievable, several delicious courses and Stephano's wonderful wine.
The bed was actually two twin beds together and while it was not luxurious, it fit the setting and we slept quite well. The toilet and sink were in one small room off the bedroom and the shower in another. The upstairs apartment was actually quite a bit larger with a larger bath that had a tub as well.
In the lower apartment where we stayed, the main room was actually mostly a kitchen. It had a gas stove stove on one wall, a sink on another and the refrigerator on yet another wall. A convertible couch was on the fourth wall and a small table in the middle. I probably wouldn't have cooked anything too complex there, but it was quite adequate for breakfast and other simple meals.
Problems or Bonuses
The website portrayed it very accurately, so consequently it was just what I was looking for. We were looking more for an authentic Tuscan living experience than a luxury spa. We wanted to get a feel for what it is like to live in the area, and at the same time we wanted to visit the museums and places we'd read about.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The person we booked with was practically another family member. He was actually from the US but had lived for a time with the owners when he was younger. He he happened to be in town and actually stopped by and helped translate for my cooking lesson. Gracia doesn't speak as much English as Stephano, Chiara and Michael, and I speak no Italian, but since we both spoke "cooking" we did quite well. The price for the apartment was very affordable, as were the cooking lessons and meals we took with the family. I actually couldn't imagine we could find such a good value.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would absolutely stay there again, and because my best friends like the same kinds of things I do, I already have recommended it to them. The only qualification I would have is that this experience would be best enjoyed by those who want to immerse themselves in Tuscany and living more like a resident than a tourist. We even got to attend a gathering with Stephano of a group he is working with to recover some Etruscan ruins. Pretty amazing stuff.
Things to do in this area
Every town we visited, including Figline, had all sorts of restaurants and markets. We just walked up and down the wonderful narrow stone streets and explored anything that looked interesting. We took the train to Cinque Terra and walked along the Mediterranean Sea through the gorgeous hill towns one day, and checked out David at Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence on another. It was a great location for just about anything.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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