Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3972: Owner, Casina Di Rosa
1bed/1bath house in Civitella Marittima, Tuscany West
Oct 4-11 2008, one week
Casina di Rosa is located in Civitella di Maritimma, in the Upper Tuscan Maremma region of Italy. A small, hilltop town set above olive groves and rolling hills - it is a lovely country location. The house is right in the town but set up a bit so views of the countryside from the bedroom window, are breathtaking. The house, while being close to neighboring houses, still felt very private and was nice and quiet, especially at night. We liked the town very much, from what we saw of it. To be honest, we didn't spend much time checking out the town. We left for sightseeing early in the morning and returned at night for dinner so this didn't leave us much time to explore the town; we did check it out on our first day and in the mornings before heading out.
We did buy some staple groceries; bread, cheese, mortadella, milk for coffee, etc. and this was found in the town a short distance away at the grocery store. Was able to use my limited Italian here and the counter ladies were very considerate. Had to remind my husband NOT to handle the produce but to point and ask for the item, as touching is a no-no in Italy, as I understood. It was great to have breakfast (often just Nutella and bread) at the house and especially fresh-brewed coffee, before heading out for the day. We also drove to Paganico - 5 to 10 minutes away, for a larger selection of groceries.
Locanda nel Cassero is the highly-touted restaurant located right in town-short distance from the house - excellent food and wine - great regional dishes. Trattorie La Merlaie, just up a bit along the highway(a 10 minute walk at most), was also a fabulous restaurant which we ate at more frequently - had forged a friendship with Franz, the owner and his little dog, whose name escapes me. We were often the only people in the restaurant - off season. We often let them just feed us, bring us dishes they thought appropriate and in the right order! Carmen, our waitress, often disapproved of our choices - sometimes I just wanted soup and a salad - a North-American standard but Carmen would give me a look like I was crazy and before you know it I was eating a pasta or meat dish! No regrets, mind you! I had read about the importance Italians place on digestion and how different food should be eaten in a certain order to facilitate optimum digestion but I had never encountered anyone who enforced it before now. In Rome, I would have no difficulty with ordering just a salad for dinner but in this rural Tuscan restaurant; Carmen wouldn't hear of it! Honestly, we didn't feel pressured, just guided. I had a bowl of Aquacotta with a poached egg on top that was so delicious, I could weep for joy! Another pasta dish that had crunchy breadcrumbs in it and was so yummy that I was tempted to ask for more even though my portion was large!
Returning to the town at night for dinner (never before 8:00pm) was a highlight of our trip and often a topic of discussion while sightseeing, 'Gee, should I try the wild boar pasta or the slow-cooked bean dish tonight?'
The house was old - probably a few hundred years or so - in Gloria's family. Great, basic layout; bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living and laundry room. This house could probably house four people - there's a pull-out couch in the living room. It was both comfortable and comforting. We had stayed, the week prior, in an austere room at a convent in Rome so this was luxurious by comparison. The house is above a garage, owned by someone else, stairs lead up to the rooms. Rooms were all in good shape and immaculately clean, lots of big, fluffy towels and a cozy duvet contributed to the luxurious feeling. Bedroom window afforded the best views of the countryside; what a pleasure to open up the shutters every morning!
The outside sitting area was great for early morning coffee or late night chats - just a small area outside the front door. In the sitting area, Gloria and Marcel have a collection of houseplants that were a cheery and homey touch. We were asked to water them once that week. We had to water them twice because of the hot October sunshine had dried them out a bit. The sitting area felt pretty private, residents would walk by and say hello but we never felt like we were on display or our privacy was invaded.
Furniture was in good shape and comfortable - kitchen was small but comfortable and there were enough chairs for our purposes. House was very clean, fluffy towels and lots of them in the bedroom and fresh flowers too!
The large bed was very comfortable, especially so with the duvet. We had arrived on a chilly day so having the duvet on the bed was necessary and wonderful! We slept very well. Always planned to leave by 9:00am but sometimes we slept in 'til then. Very restful and quiet. Loved the room-darkening shutters! Fresh flowers in the room was a nice touch!
Kitchen was everything we had read about it - lots of pots and pans, coffee, sugar, etc. We loved the gift of pasta and sauce and wine. We cooked it up one night - every other night we ate out. Brewed coffee every morning and had basic breakfast before we went out for the day. Hung laundry on the clothesline out the kitchen window a few times, washing machine was great for us although it really does take a long time to wash, hot sun dried our clothes in no time though.
Problems or Bonuses
We were surprised how 'autumnal' it seemed and how it reminded us of our own northern landscape here in Canada. This may sound silly, but it was actually surprising to see leaves changing colour and smell pine and wood-smoke in the air. Now, this was October but for some reason, I didn't expect Italy to reflect the changing seasons so much. It really felt like autumn but particularly in Civitella di Marittima - not so much in Florence or other closer cities we visited.
We were also surprised to hear gunshots a few mornings just outside of town. There seemed to be quite a lot of hunting going on. Most mornings we could hear the hunters and their dogs and we saw some hunters one Saturday morning getting ready to set out. We wondered what they were hunting, cinghiale (wild boar) maybe or rabbits.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked by contacting Gloria at the Casina di Rosa website after I checked out reviews on SlowTrav and Trip Advisor. Gloria responded by e-mail almost immediately and was warm and welcoming. Her English is perfect - I believe she speaks several languages. Her husband Marcel, is a fellow Canadian, yay! Gloria and Marcel were even nicer in person. They met us at Dante's bar and directed us to the house, showed us where to park and then toured us through the house offering all sorts of resources for our travels-great travel library! Many a day, we were saved by one of their maps! We paid €350 for the week off-season price. Very affordable and the reality of the place reflected the published info, only better!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would definitely stay here again. Gloria and Marcel offer authentic Italian experience with great extra touches reflective of North American standards-big, fluffy towels, drip-coffee or espresso if you want it, cozy duvet, fresh flowers, food gifts and resource library. Casina di Rosa is in a good central location for site-seeing in Tuscany. A little far from Florence but still doable. We went everywhere, practically. Up to the top of Mt. Amiata down to the thermal baths of Saturnia and to the coast at Castiglione de Pescaia. Had a great time!
Things to do in this area
We kept a busy schedule for ourselves which I think I wouldn't recommend to anyone as places began to blur into one another in memory. We often saw three hill towns a day, which in the end it was hard to pick out distinguishing qualities of each. We enjoyed buying wine and cheese, pastries and panini in all the towns we visited. We kept our guidebooks handy to make sure we saw the key features each town possessed. Absolutely loved Lucca and Fiesole (above Florence)and the Roman and Etruscan ruins of Roselle.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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