Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 285: Italian Vacation Villas, Poggio ai Pini
studio cottage on estate outside Siena, Tuscany Chianti
June 15 - 22, 2002, one week
3 room cottage La Legnaia at Poggio ai Pini This is a cottage on a country estate. It appears to be a conversion of an original outbuilding (smokehouse?) and is in close proximity to five apartments which have been converted from the stable. The owner occupies the villa. Itís just north of Siena on road #408.
We definitely needed a car but one of the other couples, a pair of hike-happy Brits, parked at the gate and walked into town each day. Okay, Iím a wimp. The gravel road off the highway is about .5 km to a covered parking area. Itís a 10-15 minute drive to parking at the Stadio and 5-10 minutes to the Coop. Other highways are easily accessed as long as youíre good at navigating the rotaries.
The estate has evidently been in the same family since medieval times. La Legnaia is a separate, three room cottage with itís own patio. You can have as much or as little contact with the other guests as you like. The buildings and grounds are very well maintained under the direction of the owner.
The triangular garden area is very private with ten foot high hedges on two sides and the cottage on the third. Thereís a small lawn and a tiled patio with a plastic table and two chairs. Facing east, it was a pleasant, shady retreat in the afternoon. There is also a larger lawn area shared with the other guests and located across the seldom used driveway. The pool is in the sun all day and has a great panoramic view of Siena. There are lounge sets and umbrellas for each couple. Although the owner told us the pool was open anytime, we found the gate was locked from sundown to about 10:00 am each day.
Nice furnishings include two stuffed chairs and a bright reading lamp in the living room, a large antique dresser and iron bed. You have three options for eating: a dining table in the main room, a small table in the kitchen, or outside on the patio.
The firm, yet comfortable bed is in an alcove of the main room. We thought this might seem strange but it worked well. Opening up at night and closing in late morning keeps the room cool and the shutters and drapes completely block out light for late sleepers. There are extra pillows and blankets in the nearby closet. The bath offers a small shower, WC, bidet, pedestal sink and clothes washer.
If we found anything lacking at La Legnaia itís the kitchen. It is small and difficult for two to cook without running into each other. We had breakfast each morning and prepared five dinners here. Thereís a small, under-counter refrigerator and four burner, gas cooktop. The separate oven is about the size of a small microwave and inadequate for any real baking. It worked for toasting bread and you could probably broil a couple of salmon steaks in it. We found the two pots and small frying pans limiting. For instance we had to transfer steamed mussels to a bowl before boiling pasta in the same pot. You couldnít do much entertaining here but itís adequate for two. My wife said it was kind of like camping. If you like coffee, youíll find the espresso pot too small. We usually had to make three pots to get going in the morning.
Problems or Bonuses
The biggest surprise were the fireflies. The first night they were twinkling all around. It was like fairyland. This is very tranquil property. Itís private and a wonderful place to relax after a day of sightseeing.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Martin at Italian Vacation Villas was excellent. He was honest and sent good information about the Chianti area and restaurant recommendations for much of Italy. Everything was accurate and on time. The property is managed by Tuscan Enterprises which is headquartered a few miles away in Castellina in Chianti. Martin made sure we had their number, his number and the number of the owner before we left.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would stay here again. Itís a wonderful setting, very well maintained and centrally located. We could have been happy skipping the sightseeing and just staying here all day.
One caution would be for those considering fall or winter rental. The gravel road going in has one steep spot that could be trouble after a good rain. Check with the owner or Tuscan Enterprises.
Things to do in this area
The hilltowns of Tuscany are fascinating and all within easy reach. In Siena, we loved Nonna Gina's (you have to try the gnocchi) and La Vecchia Taverna. If you head to Pienza, be sure to sample the pecorino and have a meal at Latte di Luna.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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