Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 237: Tuscany Villas, Villa Paterno
apartments on estate near Londa, Tuscany North
May 11 - 18, 2002, 7 nights, 8 days
Villa Paterno is located in the outskirts of Londa, a tiny resort town in the Apennine mountains. The views are "to-die-for"! There is no other building in sight, just vineyards on the mountainside. The cab driver in Florence told us that people in Florence go to Londa to escape the heat and "to get away from the city".
You need a car to get around as the villa is about a 2 to 3 minute drive on steep, narrow, switchback, mountain roads with blind curves to the town proper. Londa has a grocery store (Coop), a fruit and vegetable store, a post office, a bar (for coffee and phone cards), a full serve 1 pump gas station, a newstand, and an ATM machine. There are 2 restaurants in the town proper. We went to Da Fischio, overlooking the lake, 3 times. There are also 3 or 4 restaurants in nearby towns (Fornacia, to the east; Masseto, to the south; and Dicomano, to the north) - all within a 15 minute drive. I was told that the best gelati is in Dicomano. There is a Gucci outlet (I was told that they have great prices) near Incisa, our exit from the A1, which is about a 30 minute drive to the villa.
The stone building used to be a farmhouse. It has since been remodelled into a 4 apartment villa. Two of the apartments sleep 2 (+1 on a fold-out couch) and the other 2 apartments sleep 4 (+2 on the fold-out couches). One of the apartments has Juliet balconies in each room. The villa is in excellent shape, with tiled floors, massive wood beam ceilings, super heavy double pane windows, and modern plumbing.
The well lit garden, which took our breath away, is where we had before and after dinner drinks. There was a clean pool (not heated), but we were too busy with other things to go swimming. The garden was shared between the 4 apartments. It worked out well since our group occupied all 3. The 4th apartment remained vacant the whole time we were there.
The villa was furnished impeccably. We were very comfortable with the dining room, living room, and kitchen furnishings. Most of the time, everybody would just converge in 1 apartment (the designated "party" apartment). The men particularly loved the overstuffed leather chairs (better to take naps in). The cleaning crew came Tuesday (we checked in the Saturday before) to clean, take out the trash, and change towels and sheets. Tecla, the caretaker, gave us cell phones (1 for each apartment, which we rented from the villa for 5 euros/day).
The bedrooms were furnished with matching period furniture (Louis, XIV - for example). Not sure if they were knock-offs, but they were impressive enough. Two of the apartments have a master (with a queen bed) and a guest bedroom (with 2 full beds, which you may push together). The apartment with the Juliet balconies (Carina) had a loft and our bedroom even had a crib. We were very comfy with the provided pillows, sheets, and comforters.
The kitchens had dishwashers, fridges, and gas stoves. We usually just used 1 apartment's kitchen and it was spacious enough to accommodate 3 cooks! There were enough pots and pans, knives, and dishes to cook full meals for 9 people. We had to use all 3 coffee makers (each apartment had one) for our morning caffeine fix. The kitchen was also stocked with dishwashing and hand wash detergents. The double sink made it easy for the "dish washers" to wash dishes.
Problems or Bonuses
The only surprise was that everything in the villa surpassed our expectations.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Mary Jo Zingale, of Tuscany Villas, replied to all our e-mails for 2 years before the trip. She sent out literature about the villa, the town, things to do (and what not to do), and maps and directions a couple of times before the trip. The agency is based in Ohio, but Mary Jo is in Italy every year. They own the Zingale estates which is comprised of Villa Paterno and 2 or 3 other villas, and a working vineyard and olive plantation. Tecla Buonacorsi, the caretaker, was a very pleasant, very fluent English speaking young woman who helped us and answered all our questions. The pictures on web site (www.tuscanyvillas.com) do not do the villa justice.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
My husband and I are actually thinking of renting one of the 1 bedroom apartment, if we come back on our own - the Carina, with the Juliet balconies. The customer service is excellent. If people like quiet countryside vacations, and still be 30 to 40 minutes away from Florence, or the Chianti region (Greve, Montefioreli, Radda), this is a keeper.
Things to do in this area
Best restaurant: Da Fischio - specializes in pizza (every night). This restaurant, bar, salumeria overlooks the lake. Excellent food, excellent wine list cheap prices, and very friendly staff. The whole group (9 people) had a full course dinner and the total bill came to 20 euros per couple. Do not miss the "melt-in-your-mouth" ravioli.
Shopping: Gucci outlet (at Incisa) - the girls were very impressed with the prices and the selection. One of the girls bought a bunch of purses to resell in the U.S.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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