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Review 273: Castello di Montegufoni, Il Cardinale


Review by Richard from CA

apartments in a castle, Tuscany Chianti


June 2002, 1 week


We visited Castello di Montegufoni in June 2002 after reading the reviews of the property on this web site. The other reviews showered nothing but praise on Castello di Montegufoni however for us the castle was not quite the idyllic paradise others described, so this more balanced review should give people more insight into the property.

We stayed in the apartment called Il Cardinale, which "comfortably" sleeps six.

The castle is located about a half an hour drive west of Florence. It is perched on a small hill which is where one of the disadvantages came into play. Getting your heavy suitcases to your room can require a lot of effort. The carpark is down a short hill (100 yards) adjacent to the property. As you'll be aware elevators in 16th century Italian castles are rarities so most rooms require going up 20 or so steps after hauling your suitcases to the castle from the carpark.

We had previously stayed in a Castle called Chateau do Fere en Tardenois just east of Paris near the Champagne region which probably set our expectations a little high: www.ila-chateau.com

This French castle had excellent accommadations by comparison to the Castello di Montegufoni and it's restaurants was one of the best we ever ate in.

Castello di Montegufoni is more authentic, which can have it's downsides:

  • Rooms are especially dark due to not just a lack of windows but the selection of low wattage bulbs for the few lights in each apartment
  • Floors are the original 16th century tile, they are not flat at all subsiding in the middle
  • Hot water to most rooms takes at least 5 minutes of running the shower/taps in the morning before it makes an appearance. Once running showers do have good water pressure.
  • Things are generally a little dusty and unkempt.
  • Furniture tends to be antiques in differing stages of repair. Our four poster bed had leather sides that were falling apart and a canopy that was far from intact. The castle's rooms were converted to apartments in the 70s and the selection of the more modern furniture and fittings are remniscent of interior design from this decade.

During our first night the place was so omninous and dark that my wife and I barely slept, the following nights though you're so tired after sightseeing and aware that there's no reason to be concerned that sleeping isn't an issue.

One important note is that the children's cribs provided by the castle are positively dangerous. They are the old types no longer used in the US with mesh sides and deep foamy mattresses. On the second night we went to see our crying son and found he had trapped his arm between the soft mesh wall and foamy mattress. From then on he slept with us in our bed.

The pool was unheated but excellent. As a result its temperature is totally dependent on the weather. Upon arrival during a gloomy overcast day in the 60s F the pool was chilly, but after three days of 80s F it was perfect. The pool is nicely secluded by tall trees from the road and surrounded by deck chairs.

A small childrens play area is provided (we had a one year old with us) but was festooned with giant ants and insects that were all over the property. This didn't dissuade our one year old, but you had to swat the more evil looking bugs before feeling you could safely let your offspring run riot over the play facilities.

The views and setting was fantastic. The gardens are split level and have many tables you can sit at and eat pizza while watching the sun go down over the beatiful Tuscan hills.

A small shop at the castle is open 2pm -8pm and sells most necessities. Guests can order excellent take out (or eat in) pizza from the castle's "restaurant" provided you place an order before the reception closes.

A short warning. We arrived on a Saturday night and discovered all the restaurants fully booked. The staff even suggested we go to the local place, Il Focolare, which after a long walk (with our unruly 1 year old) had no tables. Returning to the castle there was nowhere to eat (a wedding was in progress so the castle's restaurant was not available to us) and it was too late to order their take out pizza.

In review we expected a great deal from the castle after reading the other reviews and comparing this to our other accommadations in Rome (see other review) and a trip to a castle in France. If we went again we'd choose a more modern villa. If you're rained in during your stay the Castle can be a creepy place to be restricted to. If you're after an authentic castle experience Castelo di Montegufoni is the real thing, but just be prepared for the implications.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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