Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3817: Doorways, La Casina
1bed/1bath apartment near Montelupo, Tuscany Chianti
August 29-Setember 16, 2008, two weeks
La Casina, a small farmhouse, is located on a 500+ wine and olive estate in the small village of San Vincenzo a Torre (blink and you miss it) on the estate of I Lami. There are a few other small rental homes on the villa estate. The main house dates back to the 15th century. These homes are high on hill with a grand sweep of the olive and grave groves all around. It is 8 km from Montelupo (a major pottery center) and the site of the best grocery store around and 8 km from Scandicci the adjoining suburb to Florence. Florence is a 20 minute drive away and yet, you are in the country and on the edge of Chianti country. Once in side this small farmhouse you were centuries away from the bustling world of Florence, and yet so close. Easy to reach all of Chianti's marvelous towns (all within 90 minutes) and also 90 minutes from Lucca, Pisa, and Livorno. It is wedged between two major highways--the Chianti Highway and the F1-P1. A perfect location!
You need a car because the grocery stores are in towns adjoining this town. The best grocery story is the COOP (Montelupo) which puts most American grocery stores to shame (similar to Whole Foods but less expensive). Actually, you need a car to stay at this villa although there is a close-by bus stop.
The farmhouse is a converted hay barn and probably dates back to the Renaissance. It has a large, comfortable living room/dining room/kitchen, a very modern large bathroom and a very large bedroom. The bed linens were very soft--the softest cotton I have ever slept on. The kitchen was fully stocked with cooking utensils and we made a gourmet, lavish meal every evening with fresh food we had bought during the day at small local markets. There are five other rental buildings nearby, but we never saw the other people or heard them except for a family that we occassionaly met at the beautiful in ground swimming pool. This is truly delightful, romantic and charming and you are definitely on vacation if you stay here -- bring your own international phone and leave your computer at home as there is no Internet. However, there is a washing machine in the kitchen which is very, very helpful!!
You can view the property directly: La Casina.
A beautiful, private yard surrounds this little house; it is secluded and it overlooks the hills of surrounding Tuscany. Each house has its own secluded outside area. There is a lovely pool area that is shared by all.
The furniture was lovely and comfortable; I sat for hours in a big, soft armchair and read. The bed was the most comfortable I can ever remember. The place is immaculate and the owners always came by to check on our well-being.
The bathroom had a modern shower. Everything was immaculate, clean enough to eat off the floor (which I did when I dropped my biscotti).
The kitchen was fully equipped although I did buy a big pasta pot and left it there. Everything was in good shape; if I stay there again I will bring a French press as they only had an espresso maker. We cooked every night a full fledged gourmet meal, complete with linens and candle light.
Problems or Bonuses
There are no screens on the windows in Italy (this surprised me) so be prepared for invasions of mosquitoes and other flying critters.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The rental Agency is Doorways Villa Vacations (800) 261-4460. This was my first time renting a house in Europe and I was so delighted with their service. They did everything for me, insurance, car rental, sent me tons of information about travel in Chianti; I dealt with Ellen; she changed my car rental for me 3 times(!) because I couldn't make up my mind. I would highly recommend renting through them as they are honest brokers, thoroughly knowledgeable and very easy to deal with. Yes, they speak English. I got what I thought I was negotiating for and more. I was at first very nervous about finding a villa through the Internet and dealing with a company that I had never heard of. We lucked out and it turns out that this agency has been ranked by Travel and Leisure as one of the best. Given their total dedication to me, I can see why they got their fabulous rating. They are tops!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would definitely go back to this exact villa. The owners of the villa were kind, dedicated and concerned people. They live nearby and are easily accessible if a problem arises. They both speak English as does the wonderful caretaker of the property. In addition, I would definitely use Doorways Villa Vacations for my next rental (probably the south of France). I trust them. I am encouraging our daughters to go and stay here. This vacation was truly magical. If you are looking for the ambiance of a hotel with maid service and air conditioning, this is not for you. But if you want to get away and relax, to leave the world behind (TV only gets local stations--no CNN), to forget about the Internet and to enjoy the beauty that is Tuscany, then this is the place for you.
Things to do in this area
We did not bother to explore the immediate area as we took 90-minute day trips to the surrounding Chianti towns--Lucca, Pisa, San Gimignano, Livorno, etc. We went into Florence only twice. After spending time in the fresh outdoors and countryside we decided that Florence is too dirty, hot and crowded for us. Oh, and I highly recommend a short (45 minute) trip to Vinci, Leonardo's hometown. What a delightful, clean, out-of-ordinary town. The museum is wonderful.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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