Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2192: Owner, La Fonte
6bed/4bath house near Lucignano d'Asso, Tuscany South
June 24 - July 1, 2006, 1 week
La Fonte is in a rural area of the Crete Senese, near San Giovanni Asso. It's a great area, not far from Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. Though the villa is described as an agriturismo, it's far from rustic. Very private, it's set among olive trees in a hilly area, with great views from almost every window. There is a small house directly next door (La Forestiera).
There is a small shop about a kilometer away in Lucignano d'Asso. This shop stocks pasta, olive oil, wine, mineral water, cheeses, local salami and meat, some fruits and vegetables, a few snacky things, and serves coffee in all its permutations. There are a few tables outside, and the proprietors will bring you wine and simple antipasti. It's certainly well enough stocked to keep you simply provisioned for a week. There is a small Coop (grocery store) in San Giovanni d'Asso, a 5-7 minute drive from the villa. There are a few restaurants in San Giovanni, and several in Torreniere, also very close.
The house is clearly old, and nicely renovated. It's in a very peaceful area - lots of birdsong. It's well-maintained, with lovely grounds. On the main floor, there is a well-equipped large kitchen with table and banquette seating. There is a large formal dining room that can seat 14 easily, and a comfortably-furnished living room that can seat as many, and could accomodate 30 for cocktails. This is not a small house! Also on this floor: two bedrooms with twin beds (one with attached bathroom with shower), one bedroom with a queen-sized bed, a hall bath with tub, and a master bedroom with attached bath (shower). From the living room, stairs lead down to the lower level. The house is built on a hill, so this is ground level. There is a large salon, a single bedroom (may have been maids' quarters at one time - but it's large), a bedroom with twin beds (a bit dark), a bathroom (tub) with washing machine - which takes 2 - 3 hours to run a cycle!, and a very large and beautifully furnished living room (except for the chartreuse sofa). The entire house is finished with lovely art, many pieces by the owner (a gentleman in the noble Piccolomini family), numerous antiques, with lots of windows. No a/c, no fans, and no screens - but the bugs were manageable. Keeping the shutters closed when the sun faced the room kept it cool during the day.
Outside there is a gravel "terrace" with outdoor dining furniture that is shared with La Forestiera. There is a lovely new pool with ample patio furniture just steps from the door. The house is surrounded by rolling fields, olive groves, and lawn. The drive to the house is gravel and long enough to ensure privacy from the dirt road leading up the hill to Lucignano d'Asso.
The furniture was by and large in good shape. The upholstered furniture has clearly seen some use over the years, but is attractive and clean. There are numerous antiques in the house, and overall it has an air of country elegance. The house itself was very clean.
The bathrooms are modern and serviceable, nothing fancy. All the bedrooms are nicely furnished, but the three twin bedrooms have cheap beds (with comfortable, firm mattresses). There is ample furniture and storage, as well as good lighting in each room. There are four bathrooms for six bedrooms, which is sufficient. There were enough towels for each bedroom, but none at all for the pool, which made for some back-and-forth with the towels.
The kitchen was very well equipped, with pots and pans of decent quality, ample kitchen necessities, a coffee maker, and a small television. There is a huge number of dishes - someone does some large-scale entertaining here. The appliances are modern, and it's a pleasant kitchen to cook in.
Problems or Bonuses
Linen sheets - real linen - on some of the beds, and plenty of blankets (not that you'd need them in the summer). The furnishings and art were a pleasant surprise; it's more like someone's elegant country home than a rental. Bad surprise: a scorpion was found in the near vicinity (but we didn't have any in the house), and since it's in the country, there are small snakes.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The caretaker, Mario, was attentive but speaks little English. He stops by to do gardening and look after the swimming pool, and will make minor repairs if needed (the washing machine stopped working briefly, but was repaired in short order). He left his phone number in case of problems.
We were originally referred to La Fonte by the concierge at Lucignanello Bandini, the agriturismo in San Giovanni d'Asso, just up the road. We had a large family group and needed more space than was available at Lucignanello Bandini.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would absolutely recommend this villa. It's large, and would be perfect for a large family gathering. I would feel a little uncomfortable if another party rented La Forestiera, because they are very close to one another and the outdoor facilities are shared. This would be a good place for a wedding or special trip. A rental car is absolutely vital if you want to see any of the sites - it's in a very rural area.
Things to do in this area
Aside from basking in the sun by the pool, there are interesting towns nearby: Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, San Quirico d'Orcia. Siena is a quick train ride (20-30 minutes) from Buonconvento, a nearby town, and I recommend taking the train since much of centro storico in Siena is closed to traffic. There is a fabulous pizzeria in Torreniere (La Compagnia). The local food is heavily slanted toward pecorino aged to varying degrees and also salamis. The wine is heavenly, as is the olive oil. This is a great area of Tuscany to explore, with farms, cypress trees, winding roads and hill towns galore.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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