Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2212: Owner, L'Olmo
5bed/4bath house near Londa, Tuscany North
July 1-8, 2006, one week
L'Olmo (the elm) is just outside the village of Londa, about an hour northeast of Florence. The location on a hillside is stunning, with sweeping views of the hills and the valley below. There are a few other houses nearby, but the property is very private and very peaceful. Although the road up to the villa is long (about 4 km), steep in spots, and, yes, a little unnerving at times, we got used to the drive and felt it was well worth it to enjoy this amazing place.
I think that only the very fit would undertake the walk to town. Going down the hill might not be too hard, but coming back up would be a challenge. However, by car, the nearest town, Londa, is just a few minutes away and has a food market, two very good restaurants, a bank, and so on. About 10 minutes away is the town of Dicomano, which also has restaurants, a bakery, etc.
The villa is a beautifully restored 500-year-old house. The photos on the owner's website did not do it justice. Each room is warm and inviting and comfortably furnished. The living room with a beautiful hearth and comfortable sofas leads, in one direction, into the well-equipped country kitchen. From the kitchen window, we could see out over the meadow where a local shepherd brought his sheep in the early evening. To the other side of the living room is a lovely formal dining room and a sitting/reading room (with a very good supply of books). Also on the main floor is a modern bathroom with tub and shower.
Up the stone stairway (which, I confess, I went up and down very carefully) are four bedrooms, all lovely. However, access to one of the bedrooms is through one of the other bedrooms, an ideal setup for a couple with children, but possibly not so good for unrelated adults. My husband and I occupied the main bedroom, while my sister took the room off of it, which worked fine for us. On this floor, there is a second modern bathroom with a shower. The third bathroom is a bit harder to access, as you have to go down a spiral staircase from the bedroom we were in. It is a very large, modern bathroom with a tub and shower. At first, I felt a little unsure about the spiral staircase, but I got used to it and enjoyed the total privacy of this bathroom.
The ouside is private and absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Although the owners, Martyn and Margaret, occupy an apartment below the main house, they were respectful of our privacy, but available to answer questions or explain things we needed to know. Near the house is a large, well-maintained swimming pool that we thoroughly enjoyed on the hot July afternoons. Around the pool are fruit trees and lavender plants (the aroma was wonderful!), as well as plenty of lounge chairs. There was adequate shade for those of us who didn't want to sit in the sun. We all agreed that we could have happily sat out there all day if there hadn't been so many places we wanted to visit.
The house was clean and well-maintained. As mentioned, the bathrooms are all modern, and we always had enough hot water (there were seven of us) and terrific water pressure! On top of a hill, you'd expect the water pressure to be nonexistent, but the water supply comes from above rather than from below. We preferred to eat in the kitchen rather than the dining room, and the table accomodated all of us. The seating was adequate in all the rooms.
Again, the bathrooms were very nice, and with three of them for seven people, we felt they were adequate. All of the bedrooms were nice and judging by the fact that we all slept like babies, I'd have to say the beds were comfortable. No one had any complaints on that score. Three of the four bedrooms cooled off nicely at night. Ours, the large one at the top of the stairs, did not cool off as well, but we had no problems sleeping. There are no screens on the windows, so flying bugs do get in. I was concerned about mosquitoes since I'm a mosquito magnet, but I saw only a few during our stay. Martyn can put up screens for you, but they would ruin the views, in my opinion. There are gauze-like curtains on the bedroom windows that act as a screen of sorts.
The kitchen was very well stocked. We cooked quite a few meals there and had everything we needed in terms of pots, pans, dishes, etc. There is a dishwasher, which is a nice convenience. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking, eating and just chatting around the table.
Problems or Bonuses
The pleasant discoveries included the beauty of the property, both the house and the grounds, the peace and quiet and the friendly yet nonintrusive owners.
The only negative was the road to the house, which was a little daunting at first. But, as I said before, it was worth it!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with the owners and found them very professional and willing to answer all of our questions. Martyn and Margaret are English, so communication is easy. The reality of L'Olmo far exceeded what we could see on the website, and anyone who has booked a place with only a website to recommend it knows how great that feels!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would wholeheartedly recommend L'Olmo to anyone, with only one reservation: L'Olmo would not be ideal for people who are very nervous drivers or who have any physical limitation that makes climbing steps difficult. Our group did just fine, and we're not exactly "spring chickens," ranging in age from 57 to 68.
Things to do in this area
Florence is an easy train ride away (under an hour from the Contea-Londa station). We drove to Siena one day (about an hour). We enjoyed exploring the small towns and villages in the area and eating at the restaurant overlooking the lake in Londa (sorry, I've forgotten the name).
In Dicomano, we enjoyed eating at Etrusca (my husband and sister said their eggplant dish was the best they'd ever eaten). Martyn took us to a fabulous lunch (with many courses and many wines) at a local restaurant (I'm bad with names, but he'll know the one I mean), followed by a winery tour. We were lucky enough to be in Italy during the final rounds of the World Cup. My husband watched the semi-final game against Germany at a restaurant in Londa and the final game against France in an open square in Venice; his experience was that the Italian people were warm and welcoming. That was my experience, as well.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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