Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2354: Poggio Ugo, Type B Apartment
Apartments on an estate near Bucine, Tuscany Chianti
August 2005, 1 week
In a beautiful quiet valley at the base of Mt Cenina (amazing view from the top), between Arezzo and Siena at the southermost reach of the Chianti. There were some other developments off the country road approaching the entrance to the property, but they could not be heard.
A car was a must - we usually shopped in the big Ipercoop supermarket in Montevarchi about 12km away, though there were smaller shops in Bucine, the nearest town about 5km.
The farmhouse and outbuildings were renovated in about 2003.(The owner proudly displays a photo album of the stages of the renovation in the reception area.) It is a very sensitive development following the local style (brick and big wooden beams) but now providing very comfortable accomodation. The main house contains the owners' apartment (they live there all season I think) plus a reception area with local wine for sale (just write your name in the book and pay when you check out). Another building has four, 1 bedroom apartments and on the other side of the central courtyard (flower bedecked) was a converted barn with two two-bed apartments, where we stayed.
A lovely suprise on arrival was that the private simple eating out area with parasol, assigned to our appartment and about five yards away, had been replaced by a big tiled and roofed loggia, with lovely flowers, overlooking the pool and the lawns. The other large apartment had an attached loggia. There was a larger eating out area serving the one bed apartment building. The pool was one of the reasons I chose this property, being bigger than usual for the area at 18mX8m. It was beautifully clean and well maintained with sunloungers and enough parasols. There are large grounds with oak trees for shade with hammocks and a levelled field well away form the buildings where some scratch soccer matched took place.
The apartment was very well fitted out and furnished and spotlessly clean. The sitting area was comfortable and the dining area had a large table (though we usually ate in the loggia). There was one double and one twin room, both of good size, with another small room that we stored cases in, though it would take a small cot and has a window. The large inner hallway made the apartment feel particularly spacious. There was a small TV, with not very wonderful reception - getting financial reports and a music video station (which at least made 14 year old very happy.)
The beds were firm but comfortable with wardrobes and desks. There was a shower room with good pressure - everything was very clean and in good condition.
The kitchen area was small but adequate for our needs - as it only had a hob it would possibly limit the cooking of some dishes, but in mid August we weren't looking to spend much time slaving over a hot stove. There was plenty of equipment for our group of four.
Problems or Bonuses
The owners (Paola and Roberto) are very friendly. They were available but not intrusive, which is a difficult balancing act. When we arrived after a tiring and stressful trip, they came out to greet us like old friends and sat us down in the cool for a drink and a chat before any formalities were approached. They host ad-hoc group dinners - about three times in the week we were there. They go around to see who would be interested in joining in that evening and cater accordingly. There was no pressure to attend. They hold them in the large loggia near the main building. Nearly everyone went to the big dinner - courses kept coming, full of Tuscan specialities, and we only staggered to bed when our youngest aged 11 fell asleep at the table. At about 20 euros a head, it was very good value. We missed a pizza evening because of a previous plans; they have a large wood fired oven. They don't mention this on the website because I suppose they don't want to feel obliged to offer it, which is reasonable. Roberto spends a lot of time looking after his wonderful vegetable garden and gave us lots of tomatoes!
Only point of crticism I would have would be the automatic sprinkler system, which comes on after midnight for a short while, but which was quite a shock the first night and a bit noisiy from our apartment. (People in the main block couldn't hear it at all).
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I booked direct from the website (I had found the property on an agency website, but the date I wanted was full - I noticed that the agency only handled some of the properties so thought I'd contact direct and was successful ). The website has Italian, German and English sections - after enquiring through the website, all arrangements were dealt with by email with Paola. She doesn't speak much English, but uses a software translator, so there is no problem. At the site, I either conversed with her in my bad Italian or my slightly better French. Roberto however, speaks fluent English and German. We paid e950 in high season (August), which I thought was very good value.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would happily recommend it; it far exceed our expectations. The only reason we would be unlikely to return is that we did explore the surrounding area pretty thoroughly and we rarely return to the same place. The other tenants were an interesting mix - some Italian families holidaying together with very young children, two Belgian couples with older children, and an older English couple who had come back for a second year. Everyone got on very well; the grounds were large enough and everone has sufficiently different timetables that you weren't really aware of the other people.
Things to do in this area
We tended to have an early swim then head out for sightseeing and lunch (well placed for Siena, Arezzo or Lake Trasimeno) then back for a lazy late afternoon swim and sunbathing session before dinner on the loggia or with the owners.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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