Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 300: In Italy, Palazzo Bandino
apartments and cottages on an estate near Chianciano Terme, Tuscany South
June 29 - July 6 ,2002, 1 week
We had a house, separate from the main building, called 'Olivo'. It is located just off A146, about 15 minutes from A1. The property overlooks the valley and the city of Chianciano can be seen across the fields. It was conveniently located about 5 minutes from a bus station and was very quiet except for the morning when they mowed the farro fields just outside our windows! From the pool, you could enjoy the vista of the vineyards that were just out behind our house. Although Enrica said the house was at capacity, the pool area was always very quiet as was our house. The one exception was the night they hosted a 'typical Tuscan' dinner (which we attended) and had about 50 Swedish tourists as company for dinner! I would skip this if you could.
Our house was about 10 minutes from a 'mall' which had a clothing store and a full service market. A few minutes further down the road was Chiusi. Going the other direction, Chianciano was 5 minutes up A146. Restaurants were plentiful except for Sunday and Monday. Being new to the area, we had difficulty finding a recommended restaurant and ended up circling around Chiusi several times - quite frustrating.
The building was in the 'tuscan style' with wooden shutters and windows that opened into the house. The bathrooms had modern fixtures but the shower in one of them was merely a circular shower curtain with a hand held shower head - good hot water though. The bedrooms were good size - one had 3 twins, the other was made up as a double. There was a large wardrobe in each room with small bedside on each side of the bed. There was also a small side table and chair.
The common living area had a large dining table and chairs, a small television, corner fireplace, hutch with additional bedding, another hutch with dishes and pans and a large built in hutch that, when opened, revealed a porcelin sink and stove top. Underneath, there was a small refrigerator. There was also a futon which could be opened up for additional an sleeping area.
The front entrance to the house had a roll out awning which shaded a table and chairs for outdoor dining. Around the back of the house, there was a terrace, which was actually the roof of their winery. It had lounge chairs and clothes lines for drying. There was an umbrella, but I wouldn't count on it for shading anything. The terrace was perfect for an evening glass of wine and watching the stars come out. We actually saw fireworks from here one night.
The pool area was pleasant with plenty of tables, umbrellas, chairs and loungers. There was an small building that had bathrooms and showers for rinsing. There was also a washer but was not really working properly when we were there - we did a lot of handwashing.
The house had just been cleaned when we arrived. The floors were still drying. There was an adequate amount of plates, cups and silverware but a few more serving pieces would have been nice. The furniture was in good condition but the kitchenette, although quaint was a little dated. It had been advertised that there was an American coffee maker there (we're not into espresso) but there wasn't - we didn't bother to ask either. The advertisement through In Italy also talked about screens on the windows - there were none. We did not have an overly bad time with bugs, though. Flies, yes but not too many mosquitos.
The beds were hard!!!! The pillows were hard! Other than that, everything else was fine. There were bed lamps for reading as well as overhead lighting. The bathroom also had overhead lighting as well as a light over the mirror.
Problems or Bonuses
On one or two occasions, the water level seemed to drop when taking a shower. The kitchenette could have been a little bit more up to date. I did have an occasion to see another unit and found that to be clean and modern - kitchen as well. The web site said that the property had gone through some renovations and I would have to say, that if Olivo was included in this, it was the bathrooms that they concentrated on. The tile was clean and new with terracotta flooring. The best part was opening the windows and shutters in the morning to look out over the valley!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The reps from In Italy responded to questions promptly and provided us with information on the area - restaurants, shopping, etc as well as driving info.
The on site caretakers spoke English and were helpful. They were knowledgeable about the winery and Enrica served as a translator for the chef during our cooking class. When we arrived Saturday, tired and hungry, Enrica quickly put together a wonderful lunch of meats and chees, including wine and charged us a nominal fee.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
There was a nice mixture of people at the Palazzo, including Americans, Germans and Italians. We really thought that this was the best part of our trip and staying at the house had given us a tremendous amount of flexibility. We cooked in several times at night and enjoyed our form of an Italian breakfast. You do have to make prior arrangements with Enrica if you intend to have breakfast in the main house and I did not see any other dinners served other than the tourist dinner on Wednesday. The cooking class we took was terrific and much more involved than we thought it would be. We enjoyed the fruits of our labor for lunch!
Things to do in this area
This being our first visit to the Tuscany area, we found it terrifically convenient for visiting many of the small towns in the area - Chianciano, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Cortona, and Siena. We found Sant'Antimo Abbey and San Biago but missed Monte Oliveto. We skirted Lago Trasimeno but missed Orvieto and Arezzo. We just ran out of time!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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