Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3755: Villa AnnaMaria, Nelly
apartments in a villa, Domaso, Lake Como, Lombardy
8/16/08, one week
Domaso is at the northern end of Lake Como and is refreshingly "untouristy" while still providing marvelous views of the lake, walkable lakefront, and relatively easy driving and/or ferry access to the lake towns. Villa AnnaMaria is a short walk to the lakefront, and is a lovely and beautifully restored and maintained apartment house, with its own small swimming pool and garden, both pleasantly private but integrated into the small town. An easy walk to the lake, the few restaurants in town, and the ferry, even for an old lady with bad knees like me. For those with more agility, there are lovely hikes to the small hill towns above Domaso, from which beautiful vistas down to the lake can be found.
Bakery and small local store with very good quality salami, cheese, bread, etc. are just down the hill. Two or three cafes and a pasticceria are walkable just down the hill. An excellent restaurant, Da Lui, is easily walkable and as good as far fancier and more expensive places we tried along more elegant lake towns such as Tremezzo or Varenna. We were happy to come home after exploring several lovely towns and eat in Domaso at Da Lui. Supermarket in town can be reached on foot but the larger supermarket is a 10 minute ride into Gravadonna.
The ferry doesn't run often to Domaso and that's a good thing but it does mean some careful scheduling if you want to leave the car behind for a day.!)
The building is lovely, built in the late sixteen hundreds, and the ground floor apartment has the frescos originally designed to reveal the first owner's years as a merchant/sea captain in South America. The restoration work has been faithful to the stunning materials originally brought from South America, including woods we couldn't identify. The owner lives in the building and there appear to be at least three large apartments, two on the ground floor, one on the first floor. We had the first floor apartment which had a marvelous living room, very good bathrooms, two upstairs bedrooms and a well-designed kitchen and little sitting room. Our quibbles were small: we would have been happier with larger and longer beds, it is the rare rental house in which the knives are of any use in cooking (never sharpened) and our upstairs unit lacked a patio or outside sitting area, so we did have to carry our food and wine downstairs to the little garden when we wanted to eat outside. Next time, we would certainly prefer to be downstairs, with easy access to the outdoors, which is where we prefer to eat or have our morning coffee. We rented the apartment called "Nelly" and the website is accurate in its descriptions.
The shared pool and garden seating areas are pleasant and there was no problem at all in enjoying them with the other families renting.
Everything was nicely maintained. Living room chairs were adequate though the couch was more comfortable than the chairs. Dining room furniture is fine and adequate. There was a TV with reasonable satellite reception and a CD player as well.
The bedrooms are nice, though under the eaves which presented some "pay attention" problems for our tall men. The beds are, in our opinion, a bit small and a bit short, but the men in our group were both over six feet tall. The bathrooms are lovely, usable, and only a problem if you must have a tub, as both of them had showers only.
With the exception of my usual complaint about inadequate knives, the kitchen was reasonably equipped and in fact had some charming pottery. You could cook though certainly not with the ease you might have at home. We aren't fans of high topped breakfast tables with stools but there was nothing wrong with them and the kitchen itself is attractive and colorful.
Problems or Bonuses
We did not expect to enjoy the lovely church bells and in fact worried they might keep us up. Instead we became quite attached to their beautiful and serene sound. We loved the night view through our skylights in the bedroom and the lit top of the church we could see.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The owner is a genial, knowledgeable and helpful host. His English is excellent and he has done thoughtful and extensive restoration of this lovely old villa. We paid €1200 for an August week on Lake Como and considered it a bargain in every way.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would prefer to stay on the main floor next time, but would certainly return. We don't hesitate to recommend it with the caveat that if you, like us, prefer to take your meals outside, Nelly's upstairs location makes that process a bit tedious.
Things to do in this area
We liked the gelateria by the lake walk, loved Da Lui restaurant, found the alimentari down the street excellent and sufficient to most of our needs, liked the farmers' market in Dongo, which I think was on a Wednesday, and found the bakery just fine. Local cheeses are very good. There was a small restaurant closer to the house (sorry, forgot the name!) that was also quite good. Our avocation was visiting the lake towns, by ferry or by car, and enjoying the unique views and character of each, from the well-touristed ones such as Bellagio, Menaggio, Varenna, Lecco and Tremezzo to the more well-hidden ones such as Gravedonna, Cremia and Domaso. Lake Como is endlessly enticing: the light and views are constantly changing, with shifting clouds and gorgeous sun and we were gifted with a week of perfect weather.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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