Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3712: Rentvillas, Villa Certaldo
3bed/3bath house near Certaldo, Tuscany Chianti
May 10-24, 2008, 2 weeks
We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the Villa Certaldo, run by Elizabeth and Adinolfo. They were exceptionally good and helpful hosts and made us feel at home and comfortable. It was everything that we expected and more; luxury accommodations to North American standards, with a good eye to design, decorating, and details.
Certaldo was a good central location for us, perhaps better than a small town in Chianti would have been (due to winding roads there). All the services that you need, and a nice old Alto town accessed by the funicular. Access to the main secondary roads and freeways was quick and easy. Other good locations (we like quiet towns with access to the larger cities) would have been Montaione (very pretty with a good feel) and perhaps Montespertoli (very clean and prosperous, maybe "yuppified"?).
We enjoyed the Italian people (for the most part), very friendly and helpful to us. We had taken an introductory Italian language course and that helped a lot (highly recommend this), although sometimes we were reduced to pantomime and bad imitations of Italian words! Usually you could find some English spoken ("Lei parla Inglese?" was a very useful phrase).
We enjoyed all the towns we visited, especially San Gimignano, Volterra, Siena, Pisa (very interesting, and we'd like to have spent more time there. A good feel as we walked around the city and did a little shopping and had a cappuccino. As corny as the Leaning Tower is, we really enjoyed the circus of tourists there, a true carnival atmosphere), Monteriggioni, Colle Val d'Elsa, Greve in Chianti, Montaione, Semifonte, Barberino Val d'Elsa,. And the ladies loved shopping in Florence. Despite raves we had heard about Lucca, we enjoyed the perimeter wall only. We drove a Chianti loop and enjoyed Castle Brolio, Meleto, Spaltenna, Vertine the most. We saw lots of cyclists in Chianti, but I don't see the attraction of pounding up those steep windy hills and then plunging in terror down the other side, all the while sucking in diesel fumes and dodging crazy drivers!
For eating, we highly recommend seeking out the small bars that the locals eat at. You can pay €4 for a cappuccino, €7 for a gelato near the tourist attractions, or €1 for cappuccino, €2 for gelato if you get away from the main squares. We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon ritual of a cappuccino and a dolce/brioche. Near the villa, Wilma's Restaurant is highly recommended for very good food in a casual atmosphere.
The train system worked very well for our party: trips in to Florence, down to Rome, etc. Highly recommended to avoid the aggravation of driving.
We visited most of the recommended museums, churches, palaces, etc. and we did get "museum-ed" out. We tried to take down-days and recoup, but there was always somewhere to go and something to see. It is a difficult balance to achieve, but one really needs to not go to too many museums and churches, because after a point, it is lost on you.
The thing I personally enjoyed the most was looking at the views and listening to the night and morning sounds around the Villa Certaldo. It was an enthralling view, a peaceful rural countryside, alive with bird and animal life, and always scenic in the changing light. Fields of red poppies and yellow flax(?) nearby. The villa is in a perfect rural location to enjoy all that. The hills immediately south of the villa were very pretty to drive.
All in all, it was a great vacation and the dealings with Rentvillas were always first rate. We understand that the Villa Certaldo is one of their prime villas and justifiably so; we will recommend it to anybody.
You can view the property directly: Villa Certaldo.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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