Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2269: Rentvillas, Lapo I
4bed/2bath connected house near Panzano in Chianti, Tuscany Chianti
July 2006, 3 weeks
Lupinati, or Lapo as it is referred to on Rentvillas website, is a picturesque villa, once a working farm, a few kilometers outside of Panzano in Chianti. The property is lovely and the location was excellent for both retreat and exploration of the Tuscany region.
The village of Panzano is a bit far to comfortably walk to for a cup of coffee or to buy groceries. Panzano is growing and there is a new Coop grocery store in town which is open in the morning and again in the later afternoon and eary evening on most days. A larger Coop can be found in Greve in Chianti, which is a five minute drive north of Panzano on 222. There are several restaurants in Panzano; the pizzaria, a small winebar/osteria right on the piazza (woman owner is partial to locals), two restaurants up on the historical hill in Panzano (one casual and Il Vescovino which is over priced and not worth it although the views are great, maybe just have a glass of vino and an appetizer). There are two coffee shops in town and a tiny convenient store. One of the coffee shops sells bus tickets.
The restaurants we liked best were Osteria Le Panzanelle which is a fabulous garden osteria on the way to Radda (say hi to Gigi) and we also liked La Cantina in Greve (say hi to Alessandro). The famous butcher in Panzano has just opened a new restaurant which looked like it will be excellent but expensive.
Lupinati has an agricultural history as it was once a working farm. The grounds of the property are well maintained and are everything one would hope Tuscany to look like. We stayed in the largest unit, and there were several other smaller apartments which I did not have an opportunity to enter. Our section was a connected house with a large downstairs and upstairs. There was a bathroom on each floor with the shower down and the tub upstairs. Lupinati I is quaint and I felt like I was staying at my Italian grandmother's house. It's a bit worn around the edges but to me, that added a certain autheticity and charm. The bedrooms were quite nice and the beds were reasonably comfortable with lovely heavy cotton linen sheets. The views were spectacular from every window and also from the pool area. The kitchen was really charming and fairly functional.
The outside of the property was my favorite place! Every unit offered private sitting areas and shaded areas to eat. The pool was great and the perfect temp in the July heat! The pool area is shared. The views from this property are breathtaking!
The furniture in Lupinati I was rundown but comfortable. The house was clean and there were plenty of chairs and space for seven to nine people.
*See what I wrote under "About the House" above.
Again, the kitchen was really charming, but rather small. There was a new refrigerator and an old small gas stove. We managed to prepare many breakfasts and lunches there and also made dinner a few nights (although we did by some prepared meats at the Coop). I brought a stovetop coffee perculator from home and a good cutting board. I'd also recommend bringing a supply of candles and a good flashlight. Guests should also bring beach towels and maybe a blowup raft for floating in the pool, if you are traveling in July or August.
Problems or Bonuses
There are a couple of stray cats on the grounds that need some TLC. If you go, they'd appreciate a box of cat food which can be bought at the local Coop. There are no screens on windows but who would want to block those views and bugs were not a big problem (we did bring lots of bug spray and some people sprayed around their windows at night). We loved the farmer and his squeaky tractor!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Rentvillas is a professional outfit out of California. They were very helpful and their internet information and reviews of Lupinati (i.e., Lapo) were accurate and helpful. I paid aprox $2,800 per week and over the course of my three week stay had 10 friends come and go at various times. I spoke with several other travelers who had paid up to $8,000 per week for their villas and several reported that they felt they overpaid. I felt that I got a great deal for the money spent!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I fell in love with Tuscany and the Chianti region of Italy. I also came to know and really like the owner of Lupinati. I don't know if I'd stay in the same villa again simply because I'd like to explore other areas of Italy when I go back. If I had the opportunity to return to Panzano, I would love to stay at Lupinati again (we even wrote a song about the villa which we sang as we drove to and from along the bunpy dirt road).
Things to do in this area
During my three week stay, I spent time in Florence (one night in a hotel). I was disappointed that I could not get in to the Ufizzi, so you should get tickets on-line BEFORE you go! I did go to the Accademia to see David.
I would have also enjoyed staying for one night in Siena but we did stay into the evening which was great. San Gimignano is a tourist trap but Radda is a lovely little town with great music in the evenings with a beautiful little piazza up on a hill. We spent many evenings listening to music in varying piazzas in different towns(summer performance schedule).
The town of Castellina is also cute. There is a water park on 222 after Castellina on the way down to Siena.
We spent a LOT of time driving 222, however the A1 (highway) is MUCH quicker! There are many tiny towns all over the Chianti region that are great fun to explore. Impruneta is a nice town before you get to Florence and is where terracotta is made.
We also took a train from Florence to Venice for a night's stay! Ahhhhhh, and we also drove down to a southern coastal town, Orbetello for a night's stay. There we explored Tuscan beaches and seaside communities, natural sulphur hot springs (Saturnia), not at the fancy spa, but along the roadside! Also, don't miss seeing towns like Pitigliano, the 'cliff town.' We also found other hot springs near Siena in Rapolano (Terme San Giovianna) and had an awesome day there!
We also did a one day cooking class, west of Florence with Good Tastes of Tuscany in Lastra A Signa, yummy!
We made our way to the 'cowboy' town Pistoia, where pistols were invented, to see the annual Blues Festival. I bought coyboy boots there and a custom made suede coat for my son at Carlo Fagiani's leather store right in Panzano!
The vino is amazing everywhere! Great inexpensive bottles can be bought right at the Coop. I was suprised to find that there are many great local white wines, hundreds of small roadside places and farms to sample their vino and olive oil. A MUST DO!
Don't forget to just take some down time to smell the sweet land covered in lavender, rosemary, bay leaf, olives & vineyards. The honey from Tuscany is amazing as is all of the local cheese!
Don't forget to shop the local markets for the best deals and souvenirs! And I guess you must buy some leather in Florence at St Lorenzo Market. Finally, all of the Duomos of the cities and towns are beautiful, as are the multitude of churches (I especially enjoyed entering the off-the-beaten track small churches) found in every town in Tuscany.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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