Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 352: Rentvillas, Podere La Fonte - Salviano
apartments on a farm near Lucignano d'Asso, Tuscany South
September, 2002, 7 days
The location is very remote, so it's very peaceful and quiet. You hardly ever hear a sound. It's a couple kilometers to Lucignano d'Asso, which is tiny with very few amenities. It's on a hill surrounded by fields. The views are beautiful.
You could walk to Lucignano, but there's not much there. There is a bar/cafe, so you could go for a coffee or something. Within about 10-20 minutes are Pienza, with a charming medieval village, and good Coop supermarket & several restaurants; Buonconvento, with several good restaurants; San Giovanni d'Asso, with a very basic Coop; and San Quirico d'Orcia, which had a very nice Coop.
It's a very old farmhouse, but very recently renovated so in good shape. It's sort of a U-shaped building, with apartments upstairs & down. We were in Salviano 1, which is downstairs. I think there might be 8 apartments total. Someone lives in one I think; she seemed to be some sort of caretaker but we never met her. We only met the guy who gave us the keys. The windows don't have screens. Tile floors throughout (new, not historical). It has a very modern instantaneous water heater, so there's never any lack of hot water.
There's a lovely pool with fabulous views and a large patio area. There are also several little spots around the house with patio chairs. Most of these areas are shared, but we saw one apartment that had a little private terrace.
There's plenty of furniture for up to 4 people. The couch was a big sectional and not that attractive or comfortable, but OK (like college furniture without the beer smell). It was very clean.
Bedroom 1 was large and had a king bed (2 twins connected), armoire, dresser, small table & chairs, & 2 nightstands. Also has 2 windows. Its bathroom is next door - pretty large, with enclosed shower (no tub), toilet, sink, bidet & washing machine.
Bedroom 2 was a bit smaller, with 2 twin beds, an armoire, a nightstand & a dresser. 1 large window overlooking the pool. The bedroom was ensuite & had the same amenities, but no washing machine.
The beds were fairly comfortable. The mattresses were very firm, but at least not saggy or very lumpy. They had warm blankets and lovely handmade quilts. The furniture was attractive, sort of a rustic tuscan style.
The bathrooms were nicer than average for Italy. Everything in them is pretty new. Note that Italian washing machines take about 2 hours per load! This one also had a tendency to leak if you got the slightest little thing in the door.
Though small, it was very nice and well equipped. It had a 4-burner gas cooktop, electric oven, small refrigerator & sink. Plenty of utensils, pots, etc. that were of decent quality (way better than you get in the average rental condo here). For cooking a full meal for 4 people, it was a little short on counter space, but we made due by using the table.
Problems or Bonuses
We had fairly wet weather for about 4 days, and they'd had a very wet summer, so everything was a bit musty & moldy smelling. Once the sun came out & we opened the windows for a day it was much better.
It really is pretty isolated, so you do have to drive everywhere. I wasn't bothered by this because I expected it, but my traveling companions aren't accustomed to country life (I grew up on a farm) and it got old for them.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
From the time I sent an inquiry to Rentvillas.com, I was assigned to Julie Cutright. She was very helpful & responsive, couldn't asked for a better agent. I'm pretty sure she's in their Santa Barbara office & is American, so of course speaks English. Upon confirmation they sent an excellent map of Tuscany & a small book of sightseeing & restaurant recommendations.
Mario, the "keyholder," was very sweet. He spoke very little English, but knew the basic he needed to get across. He was very thoughtful, didn't blink an eye to bring us a message from another traveler we were meeting, or to bring extra towels.
I thought the website pretty accurately represented the property. If anything, the interior was even nicer than I expected (though the living room pictures are from a different apartment in the building and look more comfortable).
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would recommend it to anyone who is sure they want to be out in the country, and would be very detailed in my description of what that means - you have to drive everywhere, and even the nearby places you drive to are VERY small towns. City people who've never lived that way may freak out a little. But hey, that's Tuscany & that's the countryside! If that's the environment/escape you're looking for, I highly recommend this place.
Things to do in this area
Buonconvento (10 min) - I Poggioli had great food, with their big salads with fresh mozzarella and their panna cotta the definite standouts. Prices were reasonable and you can almost always get a table because it's not in the old town where all the tourists go. Usually the clientele is at least 1/2 local. Da Ricardo is at the end of the main street in the old town. Food was fabulous, and it's 1 of the few places we had a great grilled chicken breast. Their house wine was delicious, 3.60 a bottle! Dessert cart has wonderful homemade goodies - everything else on the dessert menu was packaged.
Pienza - Lots of cute little shops, especially those selling pecorino, the sheeps' cheese Pienza is famous for. You have to watch the labels because many shops sell pecorino from Sardinia (it's still good, just not local). The best meal we had was at La Cucina di Fiorella, just off the main drag in the historic center.
Mt. Amiata, the highest mountain in Tuscany, is just south of here. Lots of cute towns on the way. Castel del Piano is one of the larger & there's a fabulous bakery there called Corsini (Via Marconi 2). Between Seggiano & Castel del Piano is this amazing little place called Fungoamiata. They grow and can all sorts of vegetables - no chemicals used in the growing or canning process. They have fabulous mushrooms, artichokes, eggplant, & sauces. In Pescina, there's a restaurant called Silene. It's beautiful and specializes in mushrooms (which grow on the mountain). The food was elegant & fabulous.
Other interesting towns nearby are Montepulciano & Montalcino, both famous for their wines. In Montalcino, we had an awesome meal at Osteria di Porta al Cassero (via della Liberta 9 or via ricasolit 32 - not 2 locations just 2 entrances). Soups and pastas were amazing and the atmosphere was lovely. If you read in the Carla Capalbo book that they're open throughout the afternoon, don't believe it unless you call - they weren't (maybe in summer)?
Siena is also only about 1/2 hour away, and I loved Siena (visited it another time).
We also drove over to Umbria while staying here, just a daytrip to go pottery shopping in Deruta. The best place in our opinion was Cama, on the main road as you go into town. Beautiful quality, original designs, reasonable prices. In Deruta we ate at Asso del Coppo in the Hotel Deruta, which is also sort of a truckstop. That sounds awful but it wasn't. It was a pretty big, modern restaurant, and we were absolutely the only non-locals. It was recommended by 1 of the shopkeepers, and very inexpensive though delicious.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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