Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3618: Gorgacce Rentals, Casa degli Ulivi
5bed/3bath house near Lisciano Niccone, Umbria
28th June to 5th July 2008, 7 days
Coming from Northern Ireland, we wanted to rent a farmhouse type property for a party of 10, in an entirely rural area of Tuscany/Umbria. Whilst Internet surfing, we chanced upon Gorgacce Rentals; run by David and Dilys in London. The couple own a property in the Niccone Valley in Umbria. They represent a wide variety of properties in the area; and daughter and son in law, Emma and Martin (who live full time in the valley) do the "hands on" bit in the locality.
After reviewing the properties on their website, we settled on a mountain top, private farmhouse called Casa degli Ulivi. The house was located just above/outside the small village of Lisciano Niccone. The location is absolutely fabulous; completely private, with a stunning panoramic view of almost the entire Niccone valley.
The adjacent villages of Lisciano and Mercatale Cortona (just across the border in Tuscany) both have small, but reasonably well stocked grocery shops. These are generally open from early morning until one o'clock; and then 4pm to 8pm. Lisciano has two cafes (side by side). One of these (the FIZZ BAR) also boasts a very good and reasonably priced restaurant. Ten of us had antipasti and pizza lunch, with beers, for under €100; and an excellent evening meal on the "Seafood Friday" (three courses and four bottles of wine for under €200). Mercatale has "Mimmis Bistro", which looks lovely; however we did not actually eat there.
It would just be possible (but not at all convenient or easy) to walk to Lisciano from the house.
Basically, a car is absolutely essential for this type of holiday in this area.
The house is a "classic rural farmhouse". It had obviously been recently restored/extended, and was in excellent condition.
The location, at the top of the mountain, was completely private. There were only three other properties on the lane from the main road - one house down near the main road, the castle (still occupied) at the highest point about 500 yards from the house, and one other holiday property about 150 yards away (below the level of Casa degli Ulivi).
On two levels, the house has a good sized entry area/dining area with table for 10 people. This leads down three steps to an open plan kitchen (very well appointed with Ikea fittings, electric oven, gas hob, dishwasher, ample cutlery, cups, mugs, glasses, pots and pans). It also boasted two fridges, which were fantastic for storing food and drink separately.
On the ground floor there is a good sized double bedroom and twin bedroom, immediately adjacent to an excellent bathroom, with shower, bidet, and loo. From the entry/dining area, stone steps lead up to a large second floor living room. This has French windows leading to a small loggia and stone steps down to the garden/pool.
There are two double bedrooms off the living room area (both good sized) with a separate bathroom, with shower and loo. Steps lead up from this area to another good sized double bedroom with its own bathroom, with shower, loo, and the washing machine for the house.
The floors are either stone, tile, or wood. All in excellent repair; and all the sanitary ware in the house is relatively new, clean, and in excellent repair.
The entire location is peaceful, stunningly beautiful, and quiet.
The house is situated in circa four acres of beautiful olive grove/woodland. The immediate area around the house is flat "lawn", with stone paths around the entire circumference of the property.
There are tables and chairs to seat 10 people in the immediate garden, with superb views over the Niccone valley. Most nights we enjoyed a meal outside, watching the sunset, and then sipped red wine under the stars until the early hours.
Within the confines of the grounds, it is possible to take short walks through the ancient olive grove, down into the woods. The plant and insect life is fascinating.
The 12 x 6 pool (accessed up four steps about 10 yards from the house) is absolutely fantastic. It's a great shape and design, with a "proper" deep end allowing shallow diving. There was plenty of room to swim decent lengths before breakfast each morning, and plenty of room to play "water sports" with 10 people. Every morning (around 7.30) the pool man arrived to clean the pool, water the plants, and generally tidy up. He was completely unobtrusive, going about his business as quietly as possible. On only one occasion were we up in time to speak to him, and were met with a hearty "buon giorno" and cheery smile.
All the furniture in the house is comfortable and in excellent shape. There are definitely enough seats/space for 10 people in both the dining and living areas; however we didn't use either much (preferring to spend our time outside).
The house was spotlessly clean throughout.
All the beds were comfortable, and extra pillows were available in each room. There are three bathrooms; all very well appointed, spotlessly clean, and all in perfect working order.
Kitchen is very "usable", with plenty of pots, pans, dishes, glasses, mugs, etc. Most of the kitchen is from Ikea (basic but sensible). Cooking in the kitchen was easy and enjoyable. Cooking for 10 people was easy, and immediate access through the French doors to the garden area made it easy to carry meals out to the tables in the garden.
Problems or Bonuses
The main "surprise" was the fact that Casa degli Ulive completely surpassed all expectations. One tends to always be prepared for the occasional disappointment; however this was not the case.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
When we found Gorgacce Rentals, I initially emailed our requirements. The response was almost instant, with sound advice and clear instructions regarding the booking process. I had occasion to telephone the agency the next day to clarify a couple of items and proceed with the booking. They were courteous, extremely helpful, and enthusiastic (as was the case with all further contact). They obviously knew the area well and exuded a passion for the Niccone Valley which was highly infectious.
The information on their website is wholly accurate in relation to the actual property. We paid £1690 for the week. I feel that this is excellent value for this type of rural holiday.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Would I stay here again? No. However this is ONLY because I firmly believe that it is impossible to replicate such a fantastic holiday. Would I recommend to my best friend that they stay here? A resounding "YES." I would have absolutely NO HESITATION in highly recommending the Gorgacce Rentals operation.
Things to do in this area
Firstly, a car is essential.
There is not much in either "sleepy" village of Lisciano or Mercatale. However, it is relatively easy to access other towns and cities in the area. We drove the short distance over the mountains to the medieval hilltop town of Cortona (small streets, shops, and wonderful architecture). We drove to Umbertide at the other end of the valley (27km) and literally fell upon over 300 Vespa scooters in the main square, at the Umbria Vespa Owners Club Rally. We drove to the Etruscan splendour of Perugia (again, wonderful architecture, Etruscan well, and the underground city). We drove the short distance to the train station at Terontola for a superb day out in Firenze (Florence). The spotless, air-conditioned, carriages, and the miserly cost of €15 for a return adult ticket (1.5 hour journey) really puts any of the UK train operators totally to shame.
We had a fantastic holiday. The house and location were superb. Gorgacce rentals are superb value, and excellent to work with.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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