Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3311: Il Poggiolo, Fienile
3bed/2bath apartment near Montevarchi, Tuscany Chianti
12/29/07, 1 week
The Tuscan countryside was very beautiful even in mid winter and we would love to see it in summer or at harvest time. The accommodation is a barn conversion (La Fienile) on top of a small hill. Adjacent is the the original farm house and a neighbouring house of which we were not aware aside from passing it on our way up the drive.
There are two small villages nearby - Mercatale and Buccine. They are probably 3-4 kms away by small unsealed country roads. We had warm clothes and good shoes and we loved the walks to these villages where we would either have a coffee and pastry or a wine depending on the time of day. On one walk we noticed the surface of a dam was iced over and spent some time skimming stones across the surface.
For a big grocery shop there is a "Coop" in Montevacchi which is huge and can get a bit crowded. Mercatale and Buccine also had grocery stores, butchers and bakery which we found easier to negotiate. The quality of the produce was always good.
There is a "Prada" outlet about 3 km from the house, which looks like value if you are a "Prada" wearer.
As mentioned this is a converted farm and it has been renovated beautifully. Downstairs is a kitchen that looks fabulous and has top quality appliances. The cupboards are filled with everything an interested cook requires and more. There is a sun room off the kitchen which we all loved. In the winter it was warm and bright. We loved the way we could feel connected with the countryside whist being comfortable inside.
There is a bedroom and bathroom downstairs and two other bedrooms with glorious view upstairs along with another bathroom.
There is more self contained accommodation in the farmhouse (Casa Colonica) which worked perfectly for us as our group was two families and we also used the farmhouse.
The owners live in the farmhouse.
There is no pool but that was not a problem in Jan/Dec.
I noted outdoor spaces and furniture that would clearly take advantage of the views but again this was not something which interested us in winter. We always felt comfortable in the house and never had a sense of being watched/observed in any way.
The house was immaculate and looks so good that we could imagine ourselves being very happy to be there for a long time. It is comfortable and there are enough spaces for family members to find a quiet spot if they needed.
The bathrooms were very good - plenty of warm water. Like all other aspects of the house very tastefully decorated.
The beds upstairs were very comfortable and the views in the morning were exceptional. One night there had been a light snowfall and the view of the countryside was very pretty and for us very memorable.
In the downstairs bedroom, one of the beds was a bit small for our 17 year old son - a bigger bed would have been appreciated but he managed quite well with the option of sleeping on the divan in the living area if he got too uncomfortable.
The kitchen is fabulous and I would love to cook in it all the time.
Problems or Bonuses
Not exactly a problem but something to be aware of is the high price of energy in Italy. The owner kindly reminded us of the need to bring warm jumpers because there is, by legislation, a maximum temperature to which a property may be heated which people from energy rich countries may not appreciate. I appreciated that the owner was very particular to read the meter with us at the beginning and end of our stay and charge us, for our heating, at the rate she is charged. It is useful to remember there is a separate heating charge. It should be noted that this property has be designed as a low energy house.
Bonuses - SEE BELOW.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The owners, Sara and Alan, are the real bonus here. They are American/Italian and are wonderful hosts in a very understated and unobtrusive way way. To arrive at Il Poggiolo and have a carefully selected hamper ready with enough food for lunch, and excellent dinner and then breakfast meant that we could immediately relax and begin to enjoy the house and the area.
We needed some help with our wireless Internet connection and this was attended to promptly. Sara helped in other matters and there was never any fuss - just a sense that they are interested in their guests and are ready to chat/help/advise.
They make this place extra special.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I asked my husband what he would like to add here.
"Bloody fantastic" was his reply.
So ... yes we would love to stay again and yes we would recommend it.
Things to do in this area
We did a day trip to Florence by train and visited Siena, Cortona and San Gimignano.
We also enjoyed the days we stayed close by and walked to the local villages. As we enjoy cooking and it was such a treat to use ingredients like Italian ricotta and mascarpone and prosciutto that we cooked all our evening meals. Worth a trip to "Prada" just to check it out (even if you're not The Devil).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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