Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3959: Owner, Casa Cucule
1bed/1bath apartment near Montebenichi, Tuscany Chianti
June 2007 and July 2008, 2 weeks each visit
Casa Cucule is in a rural location, about half a mile from the hill top village of Montebenichi. Officially it is classed as being in Chianti, although it is marginally closer to Siena than the classic Chianti towns. It is very private, having its own extensive grounds, but does not feel too isolated; there is a small hamlet a 5-10 minute walk away. The property has lovely views up to Montebenichi and down over a wooded valley.
The nearest restaurant to the property is in Montebenichi, about half a mile away. During the day it could be reached in a lovely half hour walk through the fields and woods although I would not recommend doing this at night when there is every chance of meeting a family of wild boars! The restaurant serves high quality, typically Tuscan cuisine and is at least as popular with locals as tourists. Highly recommended. (I can't recall the name, but there is only one).
The nearest grocery shops are in the small town of Ambra (a 15 minute drive) but there is a much wider selection in the workaday town of Montevarchi, a 20-25 minute drive away, including a Coop hypermarket. For those of you who would not be frightened off by the elegant and rather snooty staff, as we were, the Prada discount outlet is situated in the outskirts of Montevarchi.
There is only one holiday apartment at the property, which forms one wing of (but is wholly divided off from) the main building where the owners live for most of the year. The building is an old farmhouse which has been restored to a very high standard whilst maintaining its traditional features and character. There are three rooms in the apartment: an enormous kitchen/sitting room, a spacious double bedroom and a bathroom.
There is a paved terrace running across the entire front of the property and this is divided between the holiday apartment and the main house by several rows of potted plants and trees so that privacy is ensured. The apartment terrace has a wooden dining table with four chairs and two wooden sun-loungers, all with cushions. (Wooden garden furniture is a major bonus in my book - I can never understand why so many rental properties, lovely in other respects, use nasty plastic stuff!). The terrace has super views over the valley and the pool. And what a pool! It's an infinity pool, huge and you almost always have it entirely to yourselves - pretty unusual in a 2/4 person rental in our experience.
The furniture is an eclectic mix, with some very interesting Indian and other Asian pieces. There is a sitting area with very comfortable armchairs and a sofa (which is a sofa bed), and a large wooden table and chairs in case the weather doesn't permit al fresco dining. The apartment was spotlessly clean on arrival.
The bedroom is simply and tastefully furnished. The bed is very comfortable and covers are cotton/linen and of high quality. There are extra blankets available for cooler nights. The bathroom has an open, stand up shower with decent water pressure and plenty of hot water. There is no bath.
The kitchen is a proper "cook's" kitchen. There are plenty of plates, glasses, cutlery etc., and a great range of saucepans, knives and other equipment. It was such a pleasure to make meals there that we rarely ventured out in the evenings. It doesn't have a dishwasher (I love dishwashers!), but in every other respect the kitchen here is far superior to the average rental property.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with the owners, Susan and Ray, through their 'passion for tuscany' website. They are English, and Susan also speaks fluent Italian and German. They were super hosts - friendly and helpful in sharing their local knowledge, but with a knack for knowing when to give you the space to pretend that you were actually the sole occupants and lucky owners of this delightful property!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this rental property to others. We usually visit somewhere different each year, but we loved Casa Cucule so much that we booked for 2008 a couple of months after returning from our 2007 holiday! We are very fussy about where we stay - the quality of accommodation is more important to us than, say, location - and having sampled many rental properties in Italy and France, Casa Cucule is definitely at the top of our list.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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