Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3114: Le Maribelle, Maribelle 1
2bed/2bath apartment in Monticchiello, Tuscany South
Sept 2007, 5 days
It was inside a walled city on a hilltop, that was actually once a large castle. Breathtaking views everywhere. Our tiny car barely traversed the narrow streets inside the castle. We were able to park near the apartment, but walked everywhere inside the walls.
There is a very nice restaurant at the gate, and a cafe just outside the gate. There was another small restaurant inside the walls, reservation only - looked interesting but we never made it there. Any other needs required getting in the car and driving. A COOP was located in most villages around.
The structures are 800 plus years old, but very nicely maintained. Barbara made this apartment very cosy. There are many apartments inside the town (castle) walls, but with walls three feet thick, we never heard anyone. It's so old that it really has the feel of the Middle Ages, but there's a Bancomat, two restaurants, a cafe, a church, and a small museum. Plus we found a small art studio just walking through the streets one night, and the owner/artist saw us and opened her shop for us. I think the shop is Adelina Quadri, which may be her name too. We bought a couple wonderful watercolors for less money that they should have charged, and they shipped a framed one back for us. She also gave my wife a watercolor she was admiring just to bless her. Francesco was with her, and probably runs the business. Very talented artist that really captures Tuscany.
There was a small garden that might have been shared with Maribelle 2 (downstairs), but we preferred to wander around in the olive groves, or up the old road that leads to the highest point in the castle. Many parts are private residences, so we were didn't get too nosy. There is also a beautiful park-like area in the front of the village overlooking an incredible view, and there were small sitting areas in the village, just around.
Apartment was adequately furnished for two couples (we were only one couple, so we had lots of room) Barbara kept things very clean. Bathrooms spotless.
We had plenty of room for two of us, which is rare in Italy. The beds were firm - get ready for firm beds in Italy - all of our travels had them. We put a comforter down under the sheet to accommodate our spoiled American backs.
The small kitchen was fairly new and efficient, with plenty of cookware. We cooked a couple dinners, and a couple breakfasts, but nothing too fancy. Dishwasher was a blessing! People apparently buy staples and leave them - we left some coffee, tin foil, garlic salt, stuff like that, but we found some potatoes under the sink that had to be pitched. Probably shouldn't leave perishables.
Problems or Bonuses
Barbara's hospitality was a pleasant surprise. We arranged to meet Barbara at the gate of the city at night. She also left word in the restaurant at the gate that we were coming. We felt like family. She greeted us with a hug (and little Italian cheek kisses), told us some history of the castle, and then left her phone number. She said she would leave us alone unless we needed her.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Everything was arranged through Barbara via email. I originally asked for Maribelle 3, but it was booked. She offered me Maribelle 1 for the same price. She always responded to emails, and everything was exactly like we had arranged. Maribelle 1 was the best part of our Italia trip, and Barbara really helped make it nice.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes. We will be recommending this to our best friends. The location is perfect for getting away from the cities, and really experiencing Tuscany.
Things to do in this area
We did Pisa on the way in, but it would have been a long round trip day trip. We drove to Montalto by the sea and baked on the black sand. Nice. Another trip was Assisi, which we enjoyed. We went to Montalcino, which was very cool, and had a nice COOP. Didn't get to any wineries, but they were everywhere. We did get to Siena, but to do over, I would have cut Siena altogether and did more small Tuscan towns. We were there, after all, for the small towns.
The restaurant in the castle was superb. They recommend reservations which we did for both times we ate there. Both on the patio. They brought out blankets for the guests when the sun went down and a slight breeze chilled the ladies shoulders.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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