Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4039: Casa Martini, La Casa di Dino
apartments on an estate near Montagnana, Tuscany Chianti
October 11-18, 2008, 1 week
As someone who relies regularly on on-line communities for travel planning, I was a bit trepidatious when I booked Casa Martini, a farmhouse about ten miles south of Florence near Montagnana and Cerbaia. Our booking decision was based solely on the information provided on its very complete and appealing website and MS Windows Live Search Maps which I have found very helpful in verifying the surroundings of a particular property. You don’t want to arrive at your Tuscan podere to find it’s right next door to a gas station and a parking lot, which somehow failed to show up on the property’s website. There had, however, been no review by a TA member or SlowTrav member - and Casa Martini had just opened for the lodging business this past July
On arrival though, we found the setting for Casa Martini could not be more enchanting. The lovely old farmhouse was very welcoming. We arrived the week after the grapes were picked (see pics on Casa Martini website). My husband and I were traveling with another couple - all in our early to mid sixties - and we spent the week of October 11-18, 2008 at Casa Martini using it as our base for exploring the Tuscan countryside and hill towns as well as forays into Florence.
We flew into Milan via Linate, rented a Ford Mondeo thru Hertz, and headed to Casa Martini about a 3.5 to 4 hour ride primarily on the Autostrada. Our hostess, Beatrice Martini, who was thoroughly delightful and helpful throughout both the booking and our stay, was especially helpful to us in locating the country lane (white road) lined with olive trees and vineyards we used to wend our way down to the house.
We were in the largest of the three apartments - La Casa di Dino - for the week and found it comfortable, fairly well equipped, very spacious for the four of us and well priced at €850 ($1150-$1200). I have added several pictures, but the website portrayals, both words, pictures and floor plans, are very true to life, not at all contrived and unusually descriptive and accurate.
You definitely need a car to explore Tuscany. We also found it very easy to drive from Casa Martini through Cerbaia, Chiesnuova and Galluzzo right into Florence (no more than a 30 minute trip at “rush hour”) and park all day at a lot right on the Arno near the American Consulate (about €10 for the day). This can be done without entering prohibited zones - just be careful to obey signs. Easy enough to do even if you don't speak Italian. This lot provided us with easy walking access to all of our points of interest in Florence.
As an aside, our Ford Mondeo was perfect transportation for the four of us and our luggage. We picked it up in Milan, used it for our week in Tuscany and Florence, drove to Positano (5-6 hour drive) for a 2-3 day stay and then, via Pompeii, back to the Rome airport (about 3 hours) where we dropped it off and had a driver bring us from FCO to our Rome hotel for the remainder of our stay in Italy without a car. We had the car for 10 days with unlimited mileage for under $1200 not including fuel. Fuel was not cheap, but the Mondeo got good mileage. The freedom it provided us was invaluable.
We were blessed with beautiful weather for our stay and easily reached, via very scenic drives, destinations near Casa Martini such as Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena, Certaldo, Lucardo and Fiesole as well as three full day trips into Florence. We had wanted to visit Lucca but we’d have needed another day.
Casa Martini has no restaurant on site and provides no food other than an attractive welcome basket including a bottle of Casa Martini label vino rosso. Each morning we went into Cerbaia (5 minute drive) for very reasonably priced, good cappuccini and croissants with the locals. The folks at the coffee shop were very gracious to us each day and bid us a warm arrividerci as we left for Positano. We also made use of the grocery store, post office and laundry in Cerbaia. Casa Martini has a clothes washer, but (as is the Tuscan way) no dryer. Clothing being air dried is a common sight in Tuscany.
One day in Florence we engaged Original and Best Walking Tours Via Sassetti, 1, 50123 Firenze +39 055 264 5033. We did their “three in one day” special, which was demanding but rewarding. Details of what’s included is on their site - basically a morning walking tour, after lunch to Uffizi and part three later in the afternoon to L’Accademia to see David. Would recommend this company highly. Guides are both entertaining and knowledgeable. We booked this tour on-line about two weeks before our tour date, but a longer lead time may be necessary during the height of the tourist season.
There are excellent restaurants near Casa Martini, especially Il Focolare in Montagnana (5 minutes in the opposite direction from Cerbaia). We ate there twice. Be sure to make a reservation and pay attention to their schedule. The owner-server is extremely gracious and accommodating. We also enjoyed C’era Una Volta in Lucardo, Osteria del Molino just outside Montespertoli, and Locanda di Sant’ Agostino in San Gimignamo - the latter located within the walls, but away from the more touristy portion of San Gimignano.
A couple of evenings after our travel during the day and before tripping out for dinner we enjoyed sitting on our portico with a glass of wine and watching the sun set over the Casa Martini vineyards. We all four loved the place for its charm, its easy proximity to Florence and for its being a convenient gateway to so much of the Tuscan countryside. The charming Beatrice made it all the better. Highly recommend Casa Martini.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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