Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 253: Villa Cuiano, La Stalletta
Apartments and house on estate near Mercatale di Cortona, Tuscany East
May 18-25, 2002, I week
Cuiano is in a very remote location, up a very steep and winding road, but of course the payoff for that long and winding road is the peace and tranquility you get once you are there, and of course the spectacular views! There are a total of five apts here, varying in size, and I think it can be rented as a whole to accomodate 20 people. We were less than 10 minutes from Mercatale, about 20 minutes from Camucia, and maybe 25 or 30 minutes from Cortona. Altho you must drive for about 30 minutes to connect to any of the "big" roads, once we got used to our surroundings, we didn't mind at all.
A car is a must ... Mercatale is well equipped with grocery store, pizza place, hardware store, bakery, restaurant, butcher shop, ATM and bar ... everything that you need, and in Camucia is a very large Coop, several restaurants, banks, etc.
I'm not sure how old the buildings are, but they have been restored quite nicely. Our apartment, La Stalletta, was connected to another apt by a doorway, and when the other apt was occupied, you could hear the occasional voice or chairs being scooted on the floor, but the noise was not overwhelming or disruptive. Our traveling companions slept with their windows open at night and found the bullfrogs made quite a racket!
We had our own small patio with table and chairs just outside the kitchen door. There is also a large area surrounding the pool that was quite enjoyable, lots of flowers, nicely landscaped. There is also a shared area that includes a building where the washer, clothes racks, and the iron and ironing board are located, as well as a large outdoor grill.
Everything was in very good shape. The kitchen was nicely equipped, with a small four burner stove WITH oven (yeah!) and a refrigerator that was larger than the usual under-the-counter models. The kitchen had a small table with two chairs. The living room/dining room combo was large enough for the four of us .. the table seated four comfortably, and if you wanted seating for two more you could have pulled the table out from the wall and brought in the two chairs from the kitchen. There was seating for four in the LR area, and a reading lamp would be a nice addition ... I seem to require more and more light in order to read, and it would be difficult to read at night .. during the day there was a window to sit by.
The website lists this as 2BR/1.5 Bath, but this is only because the downstairs bath has only a shower, no tub. The downstairs bedroom/bathroom combination is self-contained, meaning that you can close the door from the living room, and both the bedroom and bathroom are contained within this "suite". I really did not get a good look at this bedroom because our friends took it. The bedroom upstairs was quite large, and the closet even had a light! I would have welcomed some drawers, but made do with the nightstands and the shelf in the closet. The bed was very comfortable, and there were nightstands on either side of the bed, as well as a recessed shelf over the bed, a perfect location for my candles! The bath upsairs was quite large, and featured a small balcony with french doors. The tub was very long, allowing me to really stretch out for my bubble baths! There was a nice sized sink, a bidet, toilet and two shelves for storage.
Any time there are four people in one kitchen, there is not going to be enough room! All in all, I would say that this kitchen was adequate in every respect ... roominess, facilities, equipment. We cooked many meals here, and seemed to manage! Usually when I'm on vacation, I hate the thought of cooking, but when I'm in Italy, I absolutely LOVE to cook, as well as go to the grocery store!
Problems or Bonuses
Lovely, peaceful location! I would say it was exactly what I thought it would be! Franco and Fausto, the two brothers who own this property do a fantastic job! While we were there, the other guests were a group from San Francisco, there for the wedding of two of the guests, Chris and Kelly. Chris's parents, Kelly's parents, and Kelly's sisters all stayed at Cuiano, and on Wedensday they all drove to Florence where Chris and Kelly were married. Franco arranged a very lovely reception for them at Cuiano ... it was supposed to have been outside by the pool, but when the weather turned cloudy and cool, he moved it inside. We were invited, but were exhausted and went to bed instead!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We initially contacted Fausto through VacationSpot.com, then dealt exclusively with Fausto. I recently went back to VacationSpot.com, and of the 5 "favorites" I had marked on the site, only Cuiano and one other are still listed with the agency. I don't know if the agency raised their rates, raised their standards, or what!
Note from SlowTrav: Vacationspot.com is a website with listings by owners. Some of the listings are from agencies (e.g. Cuendet). You do not book thru Vacationspot, but through the agency or owner they have listed.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes! Each vacation we go on has different requirements, but for a relaxing stay, I would definitely recommend Cuiano! The drive to and from the many day trips we took was well worth it for the peace and quiet we had once we were back "home". Franco also gave us a private tour of the papal castle Pierle. It is now in ruins (and for sale, about $50,000 to buy, then about $25 Million to restore it, but the government will pay about 40%, just in case anyone is interested!) It was very interesting to see the inside of the castle we had been driving by all week, and to see how the walls had collapsed, yet how many of the arches and walls had remained.
Things to do in this area
Never made it to Mimmi's in Mercatale ... I didn't want to go there because I had read their prices were recently increased by 30%, but our wedding party went, said it was FABULOUS!, and the prices they quoted us seemed fair, so we probably would have gone had they opened earlier than 8:00. Most of our time was spent traveling to Cortona, to Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, Siena, Orvieto, Assisi, and of course, the chocolate factory just outside of Perugia! We stopped in Arezzo on our way back to Florence, and to tell you the truth, we loved all the towns we saw and every bit of scenery was like something out of a movie.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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