Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2375: Vacanza Bella, Palazzo Piccolomini, Civetta
1bed/1bath apartment in the center, Tuscany Siena
September 2006, 2 weeks
The apartment is in central Siena, on a quiet street (Via Sallustio Bandini) about two blocks from the Campo in an area that seems to be mostly university buildings. It was a very nice location, convenient to everything and still reasonable quiet and off the beaten track.
(One note to avoid confusion: the advertised name of the apartment group is the Palazzo Piccolomini Apartments, but they are not actually located in the palazzo of that name, which is a block closer to the Campo. I'm not sure why, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing as the closer location would be much noisier.)
Siena is a samll city, so everything was in reasonable walking distance. The street was primarly a university neighborhood, so there were few businesses in the immediate area, but within three or four blocks were bars, ATMs, an alimentari, a very nice wine shop (Enoteca Palazzo Piccolomini), and of course the Campo itself.
The building contained a mixture of apartments and university offices. The apartment is on the second (top) floor and is part of a group of four vacation rentals here. There is an elevator to the second floor (key required) and a few steps to climb. There was construction underway in the stairwell which produced some dust/dirt and made the stairs a little slippery, but there was no noticeable noise from this work inside the apartment.
The apartment consists of a central hallway off of which there were a living/ dining room with a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The living room and bedroom have nice views of San Francesco and an undeveloped area between the inner and outer city walls. You can also see the Chianti hills in the distance beyond some modern apartment buildings. As a bonus, both of these windows have screens. All of the windows in the apartment are positioned for privacy, with none of them overlooked by any other nearby windows. There were windows on both the front and back of the building, which provided nice breezes through the apartment most of the time.
The décor is simple without all of the owners’ knick-knacks and other junk found in some rentals, which usually just gets in the way (or gets broken). The apartment was very quiet. There was some traffic noise, but the windows were not on the street so this was minimal. We did have a loud concert somewhere outside on a Saturday night that lasted until 2 am, and that wasn’t pleasant, but it only happened once in two weeks.
None - strictly a city apartment.
The hall contains a bookcase with a small selection of guidebooks and a phone available for occupants’ use. It’s paid on a metered basis (readings taken during check-in and check-out). There’s also a large closet, which provides hanging space for clothes and a good amount of storage for luggage, etc. It also contains a blow-dryer, iron and ironing board, a drying rack for clothes, and some cleaning gear.
The living/dining room is fairly large. There’s a sofa bed which is the only piece of furniture in the apartment which is fairly uncomfortable (something which seems to be common to sofa beds everywhere!) There’s also a TV with CNN and BBC News along with Italian and other European programming. There’s a large marble-topped dining table with seating for four (and more chairs in the bedroom). There is also an air conditioner in the room.
The bedroom is spacious and contains a large built-in wardrobe for clothes and spare linens, twin beds which can be made up as a double (matrimoniale), and a pair of night stands. There was a variety of pillows, blankets, etc. The beds were very comfortable. Unusually for a vacation rental, there was plenty of room to walk around and there was a small table and chair in the corner. There was a built-in wardrobe with plenty of space for clothes.
The bathroom was very large with all the usual equipment. The shower is a real shower, not a plastic box, and has very good water pressure and plenty of hot water. Towels were large and reasonably absorbent. Spare towels were provided.
One entire wall of the living room is the kitchen, which is by far the nicest we’ve seen in a rental. It has an oven, four-burner stove (electric, unfortunately), dishwasher, washing machine, and large refrigerator and freezer. It’s very well equipped with pots for American coffee and espresso (two sizes), microwave, juicer, food processor, toaster, and a nice selection of pots and pans. There are ample dishes and glassware for six. There was a small selection of condiments – olive oil, salt, vinegar, seasonings, etc. We ate out most of the time, but did fix dinner here a couple of times and found it very well equipped for our needs.
Problems or Bonuses
The view from the apartment was a real treat (and the screens on the windows). There were no negatives.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Dealing with Vacanza Bella was extremely easy. The process was simple, we were able to pay the full amount in advance by credit card (and avoid having to travel with lots of cash), and Daniel and Martha were quick to explain everything and to answer our questions.
Barbara, the on-site representative, was very friendly and explained all of the details of the apartment to us. After that, we never saw her until check-out but we had contact information if we had needed it. She lives on the premises, so presumably would have been able to help if anything had gone wrong. Checkout was painless and the balance of our deposit (less utilities and cleaning) was returned then.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Absolutely. This is without doubt the nicest vacation rental we've stayed in. Siena is wonderful, of course, and two weeks was not too long to spend here. We will definitely return.
Things to do in this area
All of Siena is within walking distance. The Campo, Palazzo Pubblico, Duomo, Pinacoteca, Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala (great archaeological collection and much more) and the many interesting churches were great. Siena also proved to be a better base for exploring central Tuscany via day trips than we had expected. We were able to park free near the Fortezza (15-20 minute walk) most of the time. We enjoyed many nice meals in Siena - probably our favorites were Taverna San Giuseppe, Guidoriccio, Medio Evo, and Ghibellino.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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