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Review 2921: Le Manzinaie, Rose Apartment
Review by ImagineAll from
apartments on an estate near Montepulciano, Tuscany South
May 26 to June 2, 2007, One week
You have chosen Tuscany as your vacation destination. You want to stay at an agriturismo. Now, you start checking some places at “SlowTrav Favorites.” That’s what we did, and we were amazed at and enticed by the dozens of raving reviews of guests that have stayed at Le Manzinaie for the past five years. We read every single one of them; we compared descriptions with those of other agriturismos in the eastern region of Tuscany, and Le Manzinaie finally seemed to answer all our needs.
Since we can’t improve on the physical apartment descriptions of other guests, or of what is included and how lovely the grounds look, we won’t do that. Do read all reviews, which differ slightly from each other, and might answer some special questions you may have. Amazingly, they all checked out! Then, check the apartment pictures to help you choose the place you like best: we chose the Rose apartment, but they are all just as artistically beautiful and inviting. We were delighted with our choice.
As someone who has spent all his life in the travel industry (now retired) and who has traveled to more than four dozen countries around the world, my wife and I are both familiar with expensive hotel lodgings, apartment renting, bed & breakfasts, university and other lodgings. We chose Le Manzinaie, besides the glowing reports, for several reasons:
- Location – We chose to travel every day from Le Manzinaie to colorful towns on gorgeous scenic roads and eat lunch at highly-rated restaurants. The pictures you associate with Tuscany are mostly in the eastern part of it, with rolling hills, cypresses, old farms and hill towns. We spent two full days exploring the Chianti area (don’t miss the Saturday market, Falorni’s Butcher shop and the Cantinetta wine-tasting in Greve-in-Chianti); one full day in Siena; one day in San Gimignano (don’t miss the award-winning gelateria in the Piazza de la Cisterna) and Volterra (and you can add the nearby Colle di Val d’Elsa); one day in Montalcino, Pienza, Sant’Antimo Abbey, the abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (and you can add San Quirico d’Orcia); one day chasing the Piero de la Francesca’s frescoes in Cortona, Arezzo, Castiglion Fiorentino, Monterchi and Sansepolcro (although a bit hard to find, try to check out another award-winning gelateria: Ghignoni); and one leisurely day wandering around nearby Montepulciano. We chose not to leave Tuscany this time, but next time we stay at Le Manzinaie we will explore towns in nearby Umbria: Perugia, Orvieto, Assisi, Spoleto, Gubbio and many other hill towns, as well as San Marino.
Because Le Manzinaie is so close to the A1 Autostrada as well as the newly finished E78, a four-lane freeway from Siena to Perugia, travel times to and from some farther destinations were seldom more than one hour. You can even get to Florence in one hour and 15 minutes, and visit also some of the villas and cloisters nearby. We used the Rough Travel “Tuscany” map (1:200,000 scale), which is the easiest to read and shows all the scenic roads. We returned to the US via the Rome airport, which took about two hours to get to.<.li>
- The owners – Marzia, Fiore and Alice are exactly the way everyone before us described them: they are the ideal family you wish you had – genuine, warm, generously hospitable, enthusiastic, optimistic, trustworthy, and we could go on and on – they are an Italian treasure! We fell in love with Le Manzinaie and our apartment, and we fell in love with them. Towards the end of our stay we decided to leave a creative “ricordo”, something that would not only entice us to come visit them again, but also to express our heartfelt thanks as well as help the environment (as a “carbon substitute” to compensate for our air travel). We convinced Marzia (who kept saying “Mamma Mia!” charmingly, while holding her face in excitement) to help us choose a Holly tree at a garden nursery, and we planted it in their garden in a ceremony attended by all guests. We left Le Manzinaie hoping that we had started a tree-planting tradition, and we are still amazed that such a short visit had touched us so much. Earlier guests seemed touched as well, and have continued to correspond with the them and become good friends, often inviting them to visit in their home towns.
Fiore, who takes care of the farm and the building’s upkeep, is now giving the finishing touches to another building where Marzia will hold cooking classes, most likely for a week at a time. Having tasted her wonderful cooking at the multi-course dinner they give all their weekly guests, we have no doubt that she will easily succeed. It also occurred to us that Le Manzinaie would be a marvelous place for a couple to get married, and/or spend their honeymoon, and bring maybe up to a dozen family members to stay for a week while traveling everywhere in a rented mini-bus singing Italian songs! In low season, and at other times when they have a last minute opening, Le Manzinaie accepts reservations for less than a week.
Alice (Marzia and Fiore’s daughter), is extraordinarily gifted in making travel arrangements and suggesting the perfect place to go, and has created many itineraries for guests who need additional suggestions for towns as well as wineries, craft shops, and other farms to visit where you can buy their local oil, cheeses, jams, etc. And her “simultaneous translation” prowess from Italian into flawless English (and from English into Italian for Marzia and Fiore who speak halting English) may land her one day at the UN!
If you are a slow traveler, and are looking for a place to absorb the ambiance of Tuscany at your leisure, Le Manzinaie is highly recommendable! You will arrive as a guest, and leave as a cherished family member!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.