Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2168: Italian Encounters, San Nicolo
4bed/3bath house near Umbertide, Umbria
April 2006, 1 week
San Nicolo is in a stunning rural location on a hill overlooking the Niccone valley one one side and a lovely olive grove on the other. It is just north of Lake Trasimeno, and within easy reach by car of a number of pretty villages. No other house is visible from San Nicolo, although there some other nice villas on this and the surrounding hills.
The nearest grocery stores are an easy drive away in Umbertide. There are a number of very good restaurants in nearby villages - we had some wonderful meals, especially at the Locanda di Nonna Gelsa in Niccone (the mixed antipasti is to die for). We drove everywhere but there is a restaurant at the bottom of the hill that you coudl walk to if you wanted to; we never made it there, but were told it was very good.
San Nicolo has to be the most attractive and best-kept holiday rental I have ever visited. It was once a rectory; the oldest part of the house was built in the 16th century but it was fully renovated, to an extremely high standard about 10 years ago. It is a very attractive, stone-built house, typical of the area, with lots of character - three bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs, another bedroom and bathroom downstairs, plus kitchen, dining room and sitting room. It stands in its own (quite substantial) grounds, so is completely secluded.
The garden is beautifully laid out and maintained (a gardener visits onece a week). It includes a number of seating and eating areas designed to catch - or to shelter from - the sun at different times of day. The views from all are gorgeous. There is a lovely pool, open from Easter to early autumn. Everything is totally private and secluded; no other dwelling is visible from the house or grounds, and the long drive means you are not overlooked by any passers-by (although these are infrequent anyway - it is quite remote).
The house was immaculate, fully, thoughtfully and tastefully equipped. You can choose to eat either in the kitchen, or the pretty dining room. The living room has a wide-screen TV, lots of DVDs, books and games. We struggled and failed to find anything the owners hadn't thought of for our comfort.
We slept like logs all week, a combination of comfortable beds, good quality linen and fresh air. There are three bathrooms (one ensuite to the master bedroom) all fitted to a high standard. The three upstairs bedrooms have magnificent views over the Niccone valley.
The kitchen is attractive and well equipped, and we cooked for seven, using delicious local produce, every night (we even bought a truffle). There is a dishwasher, kettle, oven, fridge and ample pots, pans, crockery and cutlery.
Problems or Bonuses
All good - the owners have provided a very comprehensive set of information, including advice on local walks and restaurants, which was very useful and we used a lot. We loved the walk to a ruined village nearby, on which we were joined by two dogs who are clearly accustomed to providing entertainment to ramblers. They took themselves home when they had had enough.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked direct with the owner and everything was very well handled. The onsite representative is a native English speaker who could not have been more friendly and helpful. She emailed all the house information in advance, was there to greet us on arrival and called to check we were happy in the week. We had no problems with which to test her further! The house is as least as attractive as its pictures, if not more so. We loved it.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We are already planning our next visit, and would recommend it to our best friends only if they didn't want it the same week as us. I can't imagine anyone not loving the place, unless you need to be in a town with ready access to bars and clubs, in which case don't touch it. It is remote, and you do need a car, so don't go if that worries you but there is a phone, willing help 10 minutes away and a town with every amenity within a short drive. But if you are looking for a beautiful villa in stunning countryside, I can't recommend it enough.
Things to do in this area
It's a great centre for touring Umbria. In a week we visited Assissi, Cortona, Perugia, Citta di Castello, Isola Maggiore (on Lake Trasimeno)amongst others. See above for favourite restaurant (Nonna Gelsa in Niccone - very near) but there are lots of others - the food is great. It is wonderful walking country; we had lots of fantastic rambles in the surrounding woods and hills. One of the books in the house is by a local writer and gives a number of suggestions for circular walks near the house.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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