Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2502: Residence Santa Maria, Apartment
apartments on estate near Montaione, Tuscany West
November 2006, 1 week
The Residence is in the small village of Alberi about five or six kilometers from Montaione. The village was quiet with a few houses nearby. The location was scenic with Tuscan views and nice gardens.
We could walk to a small bar that was closed on Tuesdays that had a small grocery store attached. We never visited the bar. The bar was about 100 meters from the residence. The closest restaurants were in another village, Mura, about two kilometers away. There was a very good restaurant, Il Caminetto, on the main road through Mura, and some others off the road that we never visited. There were also several nice restaurants in Montaione with a Coop grocery and a smaller grocery.
There were two buildings with 10 apartments. They were not old and seemed as though they were built as vacation rentals. Our apartment (3bed/2bath) was very comfortable with Tuscan style furnishings and decor. My parents stayed in a 1bed/1bath apartment in the other building and it was similar in style. The buildings were separated by a large open patio, that probably was filled with chairs and tables during the sunnier months. There was only one other apartment occupied while we were there.
Since we were there in November, we did not spend much time outdoors, but the gardens were very nice. The father, Guiseppe, is an accomplished gardener, and the roses and pansies were still looking pretty good. The pool area looked very nice with plenty of seating areas around the pool.
There was plenty of furniture for us. There were two big sofas. We spent most of our time in the apartment either sleeping or having breakfast at the dining table. The table was big enough for our group of seven.
The beds were fine, but the pillows were a little hard and flat. All the linens were clean. The bedroom decor was very nice. We loved all the windows in the apartment with the big wooden shutters that opened up to let all the sun and fresh air in. We had two bathrooms for five of us which was plenty. The hall bathroom had a folding shower stall that unfolded into the room with rubber runners to keep the water from coming into most of the bathroom floor. So we only used that shower once. The other shower was fine with plenty of hot water. Hot water was plentiful throughout the apartment and the plumbing was all fine.
Kitchen was a little skimpy with pots and pans. We only made scrambled eggs a few times, so it wasn't a problem for us. There was no kettle for boiling water, but again, we didn't need one. The coffee maker was only good for four cups, which we thought a little skimpy, and the pot lid was attached with duct tape. There were several colanders and enough pans to cook a meal. Dishwasher was in good working order.
Problems or Bonuses
I was expecting a real farm adjacent to the residence. I had in my mind that an agriturismo was part farm and part tourist residence, so was surprised to find only the residence. However, it was very nice.
We expected bath soap and toilet paper - each apartment started out with two rolls for each bathroom. And we had to find soap at the grocery store.
There was a €3 washing machine downstairs, which we used several times - detergent was included.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The Residence is manage by two sisters and their father. One sister was out of town, and the other sister was lovely. She spoke English very well and was very helpful. She suggested restaurants, provided train schedules, and helped my father with his Eurail pass problems, even staying past her shift end time. I also had to call her one morning to get an Uffizi reservation number that I couldn't find. She called us back within 15 minutes with the number. The place looked exactly like what I saw on the website.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes - I would definitely recommend this location if you want to be out of town and in the village or country. I think I would have preferred being closer to Montaione or San Gimignano, where we could walk into town easier. However, I think I would prefer this location in the summer, to avoid the crowds of the city. We found the cities to be very nice in November. But this was a great location for us as we were day trippers coming back to the apartment each evening. We always ate locally, and found a few regular restaurants nearby that I reviewed in the restaurant section. And our hosts were very nice!
Things to do in this area
Restaurants - Il Caminetto in Mura (two times), La Tavernetta in Montaione (three times), and Carpe Diem in Montaione (once - pricier restaurant). Villerani and Valenti Alimentari in Montaione for groceries. Also shopped at Tuscan Leather Outlet in Ponte Egola. This area is nice for just soaking up the Italian way of life - no big sightseeing in the immediate area, although San Gimignano is only 40 minutes away. Montaione is a cute town, although we mostly just drove through.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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