Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2170: Castello in Bisticci, Palm Garden Studio
apartments in castle near Florence, Tuscany Chianti
April through September, 2006, 6 months
Castello in Bisticci is a beautiful setting for any kind of Tuscan adventure. Located on a steep hillside, it looks across a valley fertile with olive groves and grape vines to another hillside where two villages are perched. The scene is at once intimate and serene. At the same time, Bisticci is within easy reach of Florence, Siena, Assisi, Chianti country, and other Tuscan must-sees, as well as the rest of Italy through its easy access to the autostrada and Italy's train system.
I stayed in the Palm Garden studio apartment, and I loved being there. I especially liked its blend of modern and very old. Its layout is well thought out so that its studio size was not a problem for me; rather it was a virtue. While I had everything I needed, including enough space to be comfortable, I was not tied down by chores. And the garden is beautiful, from its fountain to its palm and lemon trees to the old walls of the castello itself.
When I arrived, I was traveling alone with little knowledge of Italian beyond "ciao" and "spaghetti." The castello owners, who speak English, were very helpful both in getting me established and in suggesting sights, classes and events that might interest me.
There are a couple of tiny villages a few miles away with minimal services, but the castello is located on a long steep hill. A car is definitely required for even basic services like groceries; the nearest "city" is a 15-minute drive. The owners have an arrangement with a rental car agency so they can get you started if you want to rent through that agency.
I came here to live the life of an ordinary Italian and to write, so my days were quite relaxing and wonderful. I am not a day traveler (i.e., spending a day somewhere and returning to the Castello that night). I prefer to stay in one place for five to seven days to really experience it--not just see its famous landmarks. I have spent seven days each in Roma and Firenze and five days each in Bergamo and Venezia, and three at Cinque Terra. I am planning a 7-day trip next month to the south to view ancient Etruscan and Roman ruins. And I am a voracious reader.
I "cooked" most of my meals though I'm not much of a cook. The kitchen facilities were fine for me but there are only two burners on the stove, an oven and a half refrigerator, in addition to the sink. If someone wanted to entertain large numbers it could be a problem, but I was happy with the smaller size of a studio apartment because I didn't have to spend a lot of time cleaning it. It was perfect for me.
All in all, the Castello in Bisticci, the comfort of my apartment there, and my stay in Italy far exceeded my expectations.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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