Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 262: TuscanHouse, Casa Anna
3bed/2bath house in Montichiello, Tuscany South
May 25-June 1, 2002, 7 nights
We were four American women traveling in Italy without our husbands for 18 days. We called ourselved the Pasta Mamas and spent nine months planning this trip. I am a travel agent and I took care of every detail. I have traveled extensively around the world, stayed at some of the nicest hotels in the world, and rank this experience up there with any of them. Casa Anna is located in the tiny village of Montichiello which is between the larger towns of Pienza and Montepulciano. The house itself, built in the 12th century (but completely modernized) is on the edge of the walled town with gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside from the living room and the master bedroom. While there are other buildings around the house, you get a sense of privacy because you are on the edge of the town and because just across the path is your own private garden which looks out on the country side and is filled with olive trees, and a myriad of flowers. We ate many a breakfast out there -- in our robes -- soaking up the beauty of Tuscany. The only noise we heard came from the birds in the trees surrounding the area -- very peaceful.
We loved this little village. The first morning we awakened to villagers displaying their village flags from their open windows to celebrate a holiday complete with the local band marching through flower strewn streets. I am not kidding! Everything about this village and Casa Anna is picturesque, simple, and captures the heart of Italy. Casa Anna and our time there was the highlight of our 18 day trip.
The little village featured two markets, two tiny but good restaurants, a tiny linen shop and a dress store. All within walking distance of about 2-5 minutes. This is a tiny village of no more than 850 residents who treated us like family. Even the tourists have not really discovered this village so we had few tourists to contend with.
This house was built in the 12th century and has four stories. It features 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with walk in showers. The first floor has been made into an apartment for the owner, Anna who is a physician in a nearby town. The 4th floor may someday be made into more bedrooms, but for now, we were able to use the 2 middle floors. If you enter from the front, you must go up a set of stairs; but if you enter from the back, then you enter right onto the second floor. The house is tastefully decorated with many family heirlooms. The kitchen is huge and is conducive to cooking and serving dinner for at least 10 people. We hired a woman to cook two evenings for us (she was recommended by Zak at Tuscan House) and she was treasure as well. She speaks five languages and is truly enagaging as well as being a gourmet cook.
The garden was another favorite of this property. Located directly across the tiny village street (which is 5 steps wide at most) it featured a gate, many shade trees, beautiful flowers, two tables with chairs for eating, and a view of the Tuscan hillside that rivals any seen in postcards. I kid you not; we spent hours in the garden sharing a glass of wine or eating a meal. There is no pool.
The house was immaculate and furnished with heirlooms and an ecclectic mix of art and collector's pieces. There was plenty of seating and we would gather each night in the living room to discuss the day's highlights and to plan the next day. We even found Anna's CD collections, and put on music from the 50's and 60's and spent a late evening doing the twist and the limbo!
We only used two of the three bedrooms and the beds were very comfortable -- king sized or twins put together to become king sized. The bedrooms were nicely furnished and the baths were adequate with flush toilets, walk in showers and new sinks.
This kitchen is a gourmet's delight. It is filled with pots and pans and dishes to serve 20! It features a small refrigerator and a full sized dishwasher. We ate two full meals here -- although they were prepared by Sacha, the young woman we hired to cook for us.
Problems or Bonuses
This house is a treasure! The owner, Anna, is gracious, beautiful, well educated, and very accomodating. We invited her to have dinner with us one evening. She is still working on her English so we all communicated armed with our language dictionaries. The next night she invited us to dinner at her house and took us on a tour of her favorite spots in the area which tourists don't normally get to visit. While she certainly will not do this for most guests, we felt a real bond with her since we were 4 women approximately her age. Her house is a jewel and she is the diamond in the crown.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We dealt with Zak at TuscanHouse. He was wonderful, sending us maps, recommendations of restaurants, a phone card, brochures of places to see, etc. I am a travel agent who was on vacation and I wouldn't hesitate to send even my most discrimating client to Casa Anna or to deal with Zak at TuscanHouse. This experience was problem free!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
An unqualified YES!!! When you consider that we visited Florence and Portofino as well as Tuscany, and that town, this house was our number 1 highlight, then I believe that you understand how we felt about this gem.
Things to do in this area
In Pienza we ate three times at Latte di Luna. Outstanding food. Then we also hired a woman recommended by TuscanHouse to come to our house and prepare meals. She was the best restaurant we sampled! Her name is Sacha and Zak can put you in touch with her. Her menu selections are varied and her presentation is outstanding.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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