Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2529: Sant' Antonio, Apartment
apartments on an estate near Montepulciano, Tuscany South
September 2006, 1 week
Sant' Antonio is a complex of a dozen apartments on a hillside a few kilometres from Montepulciano. It is ideally located to explore many small villages and towns in the region, such as Montalcino and Pienza.
You have to have a car to stay here; the roads are too busy and you won't be able to get many places. However, Montepulciano is very near by, and has all the amenities such a grocery stores and restaurants. Parking is not too difficult.
There were some places to walk around Sant' Antonio, such as the forested hill behind the pool. But be aware of hunters shooting at certain times of the year!
The original buildings were destroyed in the Second World War, but the owner, Nico, has spent a lot of money and time restoring them and turning them into beautiful apartments. Old stone has been used, and the complex has been thoughtfully planned to blend into the landscape. (For instance, car parking is tucked away under a slope so visitors have an uncluttered view from their terraces.)
The apartments were very peaceful, and though they are quite close together, it's an uncrowded, quiet place. We enjoyed meeting other visitors at the "Tuscan Evening" held one night, but there was no pressure to socialize if you'd rather be left alone.
There are olive trees and the whole area is immaculately kept, with lovely flowers and aromatic rosemary bushes around the apartments. There are a number of very large shared terraces with chairs and tables, some of them with facilities to have a BBQ.
The pool and pool area were very clean and well-kept. It was a bit too cold in late September for prolonged swimming in an unheated pool, but you could see how nice it would be to laze around in July.
The furniture was very comfortable and the apartment was immaculately clean when we arrived. We particularly enjoyed having a fire, since the evenings were getting cool at the time we were there. Lovely hardwood was provided for burning.
We rented a two bedroom apartment, as my husband and I were traveling with our 10-month-old son. The double bed was comfortable, and Nico provided a portable crib for the baby, which was very useful. The bedroom the baby slept in had two single beds.
The kitchen was not elaborate -- no oven, for example -- but well stocked with plates, cups, pans and other useful kitchen paraphernalia. (It even had a food mill to make baby food!) The stove-top was gas and a bit difficult to switch on, though eventually we got the hang of it.
Problems or Bonuses
We found the place to be even lovelier than described by other Slow Travel reviewers. Nico was very welcoming, and speaks excellent English -- although we didn't go out to eat very much, we heard from other guests that he provided excellent restaurant recommendations and even made reservations for them.
We very much enjoyed Nico's wine, which can be purchased for very reasonable prices. Also, the maid/helper, Susannah, on the property kept the cupboards stocked with bottled water and soft drinks, which was a nice bonus.
We really appreciated the high-speed Internet access right on the property, which was always available for a flat fee during the stay. (I think it was €25 for the entire apartment.)
The only down side was the lack of laundry facilities: Susannah could take our dirty laundry into town to be done by a professional laundry. This was very convenient, because we didn't have to lift a finger, but it took a few days and it was very expensive. My advice: bring a lot of clothes so you don't have do laundry!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked with Nico using email, and everything worked out perfectly. As I've said, Nico speaks English like a native speaker, so there were no difficulties there.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would certainly stay here again and we heartily recommend it to other travelers. We especially recommend it to people with children; renting an apartment for a week is a great way to preserve some of your kid's routine while traveling. Nico was delighted to welcome our child, and it was no problem to get the portable crib. He also mentioned that he knew of an available paediatrician nearby, which we didn't need, but it was reassuring to know about.
(If you're child-free and worried about having too many kids around -- I sensed that we were a bit of an anomaly with ours. Most of the clientele were a mature crowd past the small-child stage of life.)
Things to do in this area
Mostly we drove to various small villages and wandered around. The roads often had spectacular views, so getting somewhere was half the pleasure. This is an area that rewards travelers who take their time and aren't too focused on seeing the next sight before lunchtime. We had a lot of delightful picnics and cooked some memorable meals in the kitchen in the evening.
The sunsets from Montepulciano or the small village of Montefollonico are spectacular. Watching the sun go down while having a glass of wine became a little ritual for us.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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