Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2614: Tuscany Now, Pratelle
4bed/4bath house near Orvieto, Umbria
Fall 2006, 1 week
Pratelle lies at the top end of a very big, active farm on a winding road about 20 minutes NE of Orvieto. A branch of the same road heads to the Antinori winery near Ficulle. It's all wonderfully hilly and green, lots of vineyards and olive groves but open fields, too, and forests. There are other houses/buildings on the farm but none within sight or sound of Pratelle. The driveway is an experience on its own with a variety of different surfaces and a very steep bit - well, it's a farm, right?
Driving is a must - and this is gorgeous country for it. The nearest decent grocery store is really at the base of Orvieto. There's a grubby little caffe in Morrano Nuovo on the way but we didn't stop there. There were some very nice walks on the property, including one to an enclosure where they were keeping sheep, donkeys and some orphaned baby boar.
We felt the main building was a little over-restored but it was very comfortable with bathrooms for every bedroom and a kitchen that was pretty well equipped. The guest house (which we didn't rent but had a look through) was huge for two couples and looked older but also very clean and tidy. We LOVED the terrace and ate every meal out there even though it was the end of September. The layout was great for our group but I'd worry with toddlers as the railings on the stairs wouldn't prevent them from falling through. There is another rental on the same farm called El Marina, quite a distance from 'our' house. The caretaker showed us through and it was absolutely charming although too small for our group (sleeps six). The owner of the farm has a house there too which he uses on weekends: he was very kind to the part of our group that got lost and got in his own car to show them the way. His English was perfect.
The garden around the house is very simple with nicely mowed lawns. It led straight into the fields so I imagine things can get noisy during the harvest but it was perfectly quiet while we were there. The pool is between the main house and the guest house and was chilly but very clean.
Everything was very well maintained and when we met the housekeeper we understood why: she's an Italian white tornado, and a very good cook, too.
The bedrooms were bright and very comfortable, each with a modern en suite. The beds were made up with fantastic sheets. Everything was spotless.
The kitchen was a bit small - actually, it was fine but I think we would have preferred an open format so that whoever was cooking that evening didn't feel cut off from the rest. It had every pot and gadget you could want, and there was a simple barbecue just outside on the terrace. There were lots of plates and glasses and plenty of cutlery - but no coffee mugs.
Problems or Bonuses
The only negative surprise was that the fireplace didn't work. The owner sheepishly told us that it had been built according to his design and smoked too much to be practical.
On the plus side I loved the fact that we were drinking wine that came from the property itself - I think they charged us €2 per bottle and it was perfectly good.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency was great, I loved their British/Italian accents on the phone. I'd made a shortlist of houses from their site and the sales guy was totally honest about the benefits and drawbacks of each one. I liked the fact that he'd actually been there and knew the area. I chose this agency because a friend of mine had used them, plus I liked the fact that they sounded fairly small.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would recommend this house, there was really nothing wrong with it and the countryside was beautiful. The housekeeper really was great (not a word of English so we had to improvise a lot).
Things to do in this area
We did a LOT of exploring. The roads around here are windy but very good and the views are magnificent. We went up to Montepulciano and Cortona, checked out Lake Trasimeno, dined in Todi and Orvieto. I think we basically covered everything within an hour's drive really, and loved it all. But the highlight were our meals back at the villa.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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