Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2827: Casa Rosa, Apartment
apartments on a farm near Assisi, Umbria
March 2007, 7 days
Casa Rosa is six kilometers away from Assisi, along winding country roads. It's very private and beautifully situated with three houses built along the ridge in a valley near Mount Subaiso.
The nearest groceries were at a bar/restaurant halfway between Casa Rosa and Assisi, however we tended to shop in Assisi or at any supermarkets we passed on the road when sightseeing. Plus, with our cooking arrangements, we really did not need to buy much besides wine and cookies (see later in this review).
The main farmhouse has been converted into three apartments. There were two one bedroom/one bathroom units on the ground floor, and a three bedroom/one bathroom unit on the first floor, which is where we stayed. Our friends took the other units so it was a full house! We had dinners in our apartment because it had the biggest kitchen table. The two main bedrooms were very large and comfortable with lots of closet space, and the third bedroom was large enough for a twin bed. Since we didn't use that room, we set up the clothes rack in there to dry our towels and laundry instead - very handy. The apartments are separated from the owner's residence by a paved patio with a rose garden. The owner, Jennifer, lives in what used to be the stable, and further along, she has renovated the barn to be her studio; she is a very fine artist.
This was rather cold for March, according to the locals, so we did not get to sit outside to sip our coffees. But there are chairs and benches, and lovely views. There is also a pool that gets filled once the weather is warmer.
All the furniture has been hand-painted by the owner, and there are painted details on the walls as well, quite special. Our unit had both a fireplace and a wood burning stove. We used the stove more often, as it burns more efficiently and heats up the house faster, but the electric heaters also come on so it was quite nice.
The apartment was very clean, and there were seven of us gathered quite comfortably around the dining table every night.
There is a bookcase with lots of local guidebooks and maps as well as a binder of information on walks around the property.
We found the bedrooms quite comfortable, although the birds are so darn cheerful in the wee hours of the morning. There were extra blankets in the closet.
The bathroom was fine, and here a note to North Americans that the towels are the European style of waffle weave fabric (Frette) rather than the loop pile towels we are used to, but it's like paper towels, they are very absorbent and they dry faster too. Lots of extra towels, toilet paper etc. in the laundry room, which is in a shed below the house.
Bring your own shampoo and soaps.
The kitchen was our main socializing area, and it's pre-stocked with bottles of wine that you purchase based on the honor system. There is a good sized fridge, stove with oven and lots of pots, pans, cutlery, dishes and espresso cups of course. I'm sure it would have been fine for cooking full meals but we never did; we just toasted bread for breakfast or fried some eggs and that was it, thanks to Carmen (see below).
Problems or Bonuses
The owner and hostess, Gay, is an artist who would prefer to paint landscapes but she keeps getting commissions for reproducing medieval art. We got to see her at work in her studio, using old-fashioned techniques of transferring sketches to the canvas, painting using egg tempera. It was fascinating, and that was a real bonus. Also, we are cat lovers and the three friendly cats who live at Casa Rosa were shameless at pandering to visitors, so we really enjoyed that.
I think the only surprise, which was not bad but just a surprise, lasted for a minute, was on our first approach to Casa Rosa, when we followed all the instructions that Gay sent to us (very detailed and accurate) and as we turned off the already-narrow-rural-road to plunge down what looked like a goat track, my husband muttered "You've got to be kidding, well it's only a rental car" ... and down we went down a white limestone gravel path shaded by trees and then the path opened up and there was Casa Rosa on the ridge. Do try and arrive in daylight is my advice. You get used to the drive pretty quickly.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We dealt directly with the owner via email and had no issues. No credit card, so have your euros ready when you arrive. We variously paid deposits with bank drafts in euros, $USD cheques.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
When we got home, my husband said, "You know we were so busy sightseeing, driving to Assisi, Gubbio, Todi, Orvieto, all those places. Casa Rosa itself was so beautiful, I wish we had taken a day or two off just to enjoy being there." And he's right. When I look at the photos of the place, we should have had a day of walking around the property, reading and just enjoying the peaceful beautiful surroundings. I guess we aren't slow enough travelers yet! It's a good location, so close to Assisi. We'd definitely stay there again and take it slower next time!
Things to do in this area
OK - no restaurant review but - we did not cook because we hired Carmen. Our friends who joined us on this vacation said that the last time they stayed at an agriturismo, they found it hard to come home after a day of sightseeing and then drive out again to find a place to eat, and they didn't want to cook while on vacation. So they hired a cook to come in every night.
We asked Gay if she had anyone to recommend, and YES! Carmen Loenis (firstname.lastname@example.org) a lovely young Dutch woman who lives in Assisi showed up every night, cooked up a storm in Gay's house, brought it up to our kitchen course by course and it was wonderful. Just simple dishes, very well-prepared, local ingredients. We didn't have to shop for groceries (except for breakfast stuff), Carmen made us a three-course meal every night (antipasti, primo, secondi, sometimes contorni, no dessert, we knew we'd be OD'ing on gelato during the day); we bought our own wine. She charged a very reasonable amount per head, and each night we would tell her how many would be dining in the next night. We had so much leftover we spent our last dinner at Casa Rosa eating leftovers. Carmen also baked a birthday cake for me as a surprise. Just email Carmen or arrange with Gay. We would do it that way every time and not worry about dinners. We had great meals at lunchtime in the various towns, bought wines when we went sightseeing, and looked forward to the group getting together at night for drinks and a cosy dinner in the farmhouse.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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