Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2461: Sant' Antonio, Giotto
apartments on an estate near Montepulciano, Tuscany South
October 2006, 1 week
The apartment we stayed in was on the Sant' Antonio estate, a five minute drive from Montepulciano. This beautifully renovated monastery is in the picture perfect postcard setting of the countryside of Southern Tuscany. Although there are 12 other apartments on the estate, it is a very quiet, peaceful spot and we were never disturbed by noise from other renters. Sant' Antonio is very private and is a gated property controlled by guests by a remote device on entering and departing. Nico, who owns and runs the resort, told us that it gated so that he doesn't have drive by tourists stopping by to ask about vacancies and therefore avoids disturbing his clients.
You need a car to stay at Sant'Antonio. Although Montepulciano is five minutes away by car, it is not a walkable distance for groceries or coffee. A Conrad grocery store is a the bottom of the hill town with ample parking. Both Montepulciano and Monticchiello are close by for a great restaurant selection.
This is a historical complex, a former monastery that is 800 years old. It has been lovingly restored by Nico who is continuously working on improvements. The pictures on the website are very accurate. Our apartment, Giotto # 9, was located on the second floor, up one flight of stairs in the main building. There is a small terrace with a table and chairs to view the beautiful countryside. The spacious living room includes a comfortable couch and chair, a dining table with four chairs, a satellite TV and a fireplace that bio-dynamically heats up the whole apartment. We used this a few nights and found it worked quite well. Wood for the fireplace is provided free of charge and is restocked daily if needed. This room has a high ceiling and steps leading to a mezzanine area overlooking the living room that contains a writing desk and chair.
The property that Sant' Antonio sits on is nothing less than spectacular. Rolling hills, lush olive trees, terraces with garden furniture, and barbeque pits for guests' use. I imagine in the spring when everything is flowering, the outside areas are even more beautiful. There was a lovely pool area surrounded by olive groves with lounge chairs and tables that we did not use as it was too cool.
All of the furniture was in great shape and was very comfortable. The apartment was spotlessly clean. The garbage was emptied daily and the wood restocked if needed. A change of towels was provided mid-week which was a nice touch and much appreciated.
The bedroom was also spacious with a dresser and large armoire to hang clothes. It was furnished with attractive, original 18th century furniture. The bed was very comfortable with high quality linens. The bathroom was totally new, enormous and beautiful! In the first section of the bathroom was an antique type tub on legs and two sinks. There were several shelves for toiletries and a hairdryer. In the second section was the modern shower with good water pressure, the toilet and bidet.
The kitchen was well equipped with everything you would need for four people and of good quality. However, as it does not have an oven or a microwave, you are limited to stove top cooking. This was fine with us as we had so many restaurants in the area we wanted to try! Nico is working on trying to get more electricity to the resort so that he can eventually install ovens, microwaves and washing machines.
Problems or Bonuses
Full disclosure: This whole stay was a bonus for us as it was part of a prize won in the 2006 Slow Travel Contest. In addition to Nico being one of the nicest, most generous and hospitable people I have ever met, he had flowers and prosecco awaiting for us on our arrival. He also would not let us pay for any heating costs (luckily it was unseasonably warm so we didn't use much), a half bottle of his Avignonesi Vino Nobile, or estate olive oil that we used in cooking. I loved that the towels were changed mid week too.
We also had free use of a high speed Internet in a main lounge area on the first floor of our complex. Guests are usually charged 25E for the week for its use. There were a few glitches with the hot water but we figured it out and when more electricity is brought to the property this should not be a problem.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Nico does all the booking and greeting of his guests. His English is impeccable and he speaks five other languages. Upon arrival he sat us down and circled places on the map that he thought we should not miss. We spent a fair amount of time going over restaurant choices together(he was impressed with my choices and the amount of homework I had done)! He gave very honest opinions about dining experiences.
The website is very accurate but probably doesn't truly capture the stunningly beautiful grounds. The mid-season rate for this apartment is €650, which I think is a bargain given the high quality of the apartment, service and setting.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We highly recommend Sant'Antimo and would stay here again in a heartbeat should we return to this area. We really feel that Nico is now a friend!
Things to do in this area
Day trips to many of the beautiful hill towns of Tuscany were easy from this location. We went to Pienza, San Quirco d'Orcia, Castiglione d'Orcia, Cortona Buonconvento, Monticchiello, Montefollonico and Montalcino, one more beautiful than the next and within easy driving distances (all less than an hour). We also visited the lovely Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey and stunning and tranquil Sant Antimo abbey (my absolute favorite). One day we drove to Chiusi and took the train into Arezzo to see the Piero della Francesca frescoes. Wonderful shops and restaurants in most of these towns that I will detail in restaurant reviews and a trip report.
As mentioned Colleen won this stay in the 2006 Slow Travel Contest.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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