Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2728: InTuscany, Il Giardino Segreto
rooms and apartments in Pienza, Tuscany South
April, 2007, 2 weeks
We rented two apartments - Il Corbezzolo and Serra - to give us each a double bedroom; a luxury after my husband and I shared a bed-sit with our 19 year old son in Paris for three weeks.
Pienza itself is a treasure with its mixture of medieval and Renaissance buildings. It has enough vibe not to seem like a country town and not so touristy that the real Italians are not in evidence.
We were pleased about the proximity of the apartments to both the old and new parts of town and an easy walk to shops as we cooked most nights, purchasing our food at local specialty shops or in one of the two small supermarkets.
The apartment was very close walk to both coffee shops and grocery stores and restaurants. We went to both supermarkets and speciality stores for our supplies. Our favourite two restaurants in Pienza are Trattoria da Fiorella and Trattoria La Luna.
It was a 15 century dwelling that has been handed down by the owner's grandparents. The wonderful garden around which the apartments are situated is quite rare in the old part of Pienza and this meant that on some days it became an attraction for other visitors looking for accommodation. Despite those interruptions, the apartment was generally peaceful and quiet. You can close the gate if it gets too busy for your liking.
There were six apartments in total and we rented two of them.
You enter Il Corbezzelo our 2bed/1bath apartment, by double doors after climbing about four steps decorated on either side by potted plants. It has a good sized living room/kitchen. It could even suit two couples with a double bedroom and the large bathroom up the two stairs to the left and another double bedroom to the right - all simply and tastefully decorated in true Tuscan style. The heating is cosy and as most of the windows look out into the garden, their green shutters provide both privacy and warmth in the evening.
Serra, our 1bed/1bath rental, is beside Il Corbezzolo and is split level and open plan, with a double bed upstairs and a skylight providing a good flow of fresh air and the bathroom, kitchen/living room downstairs leading into the garden.
We were extremely happy with the apartments both of which are ground floor and open directly onto the garden. The weather was unseasonably warm for April and we took full advantage of the sunshine, sitting under the market umbrella or in the shade of the springtime blossoms. Guests could share this garden and it worked well – sometimes we had it to ourselves and at other times it was quite social with people having pre-dinner drinks and discussing the day’s events.
The garden was a very important part of the setting with its beautiful blossoms, brightly coloured annuals, picturesque ancient wells, its various sunny and shady resting spots. It became an extension of the apartment, especially there in spring. This is important as the living room is mainly set around the dining table with limited other seating.
Everything was wonderful except for the limited number of comfortable lounge chairs.
The apartment was really very clean and comfortable with a weekly linen change on offer.
The bedrooms were wonderfully comfortable, with crisp, white sheets and a medium weight doona (duvet). There were three pillows per double (queen or king size - with the option of twins) - perhaps one or soft pillows would suit some travellers more.
The bathrooms were very clean and spacious.
The cooking facilities comprise a four-burner gas cook-top and plenty of pots and pans. Perhaps, a toaster would have made it easier for our breakfast tastes.
We cooked most nights and found it very adequate.
Problems or Bonuses
The bonus was the beauty and benefit of the garden.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Now that we have settled back home in Sydney, we really are grateful for our "Slow Travel Favorite" agents InTuscany having found our wonderful holiday town house - Il Giardino Segreto in Pienza.
The owners, Luise and Marco, welcomed us very warmly and we immediately felt at home. We were late arriving so Luise made a booking at the excellent Tuscan restaurant next door, Trattoria da Fiorella. Really worth a visit.
The agency was extremely helpful over the whole decision making process and continued that service once we made our decision. the reality of the place was even better than the published information. In April, we paid €510 for the two bedroom apartment and €200 for the one bedroom apartment.
Rossella, the on site person, is caring and does her job of looking after the apartments with great energy, kindness efficiency and enthusiasm. Despite the lack of a common language, we managed to feel well looked after, communicating with snippets of English and Italian and warm sign and body language. She was able to make a doctor's appointment for me and even accompanied me to the clinic to be sure I knew where to go. She was wonderful.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would definitely stay there again and recommend all our friends and relatives to do the same. The only qualification we would make is that it would be different in the winter as the garden would not be an extension of the living area in the apartments.
Magnifique!! Bella, Bella!!
We recommend Il Giardino Segreto unreservedly, not only for its welcoming feel, homely Tuscan accommodation and beautifully maintained garden but for its proximity to the magnificent Val d'Orcia and its many fascinating hilltop towns.
We look forward to another visit to Tuscany in the future and will recommend InTuscany to all our friends and relatives here in Australia.
Things to do in this area
Our two favourite restaurants in Pienza are Trattoria da Fiorella, right next door to Il Giardino Segreto and Trattoria La Luna, five mintues away. You need to book for both as they are very popular.
We had hired a car in Florence and even though we found getting in and out of the cities a bit scary, it gave us the freedom to spend as little or as much time in rural towns as we wanted. We made good use of this by visiting the many ancient hilltop towns including, Monticchiello, Montalcino, Montepuluciano and San Quirco d’Orcia. Locally, we were also lucky enough to spend some time at the wonderful monastery (now a Villa offering accommodation and Italian lessons) where some of “The English Patient” was filmed and Mount Olivetti Maggigore a still active Dominican monastery. Both places feature wonderful frescoes by ‘Sodoma’ a pupil of the Rafael school.
We also travelled further afield on day trips to Assisi, Siena and Arezzo.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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