Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4060: Sea and Country Villas, Casa Del Mare
2bed/1bath apartment in Portovenere, Liguria
April 2-7, 2009, 5 nights
Casa del Mare is located in Portovenere, on the Ligurian coast. The town is simply lovely, with beautiful views of water, hills, and the medieval church San Pietro on a spit of land at the end of the town.
The apartment is on the top floor of an apartment building with no elevator, so guests need to be ready to climb, first the fairly steep hill up to the building from the center of town, and then up the steps to the fourth floor. Being so high up has two advantages: 1) the views from the balcony are breathtaking, and 2) I actually LOST weight on a trip to Italy.
Once you reach the apartment, you are greeted with restful peach walls, a clean, spacious, and comfortable apartment, a very firm, comfortable bed in the master bedroom with french doors positioned so you can awaken to a view of the water, and a small but well-equipped kitchen. The best feature of the apartment, for us, was the large balcony with table and chairs. We spent lazy mornings there in the sun, marveling at the view, and evenings with wine and prosciutto watching the light fade.
The apartment is the vacation home of a local family; the owner provided a ride for us from the train station in La Spezia, a delightful and under-rated town. He was so nice and gave us lots of good restaurant recommendations. Because it is a family apartment and not a sterile rental, it was well provided with useful things, like an iron, drying rack, spices, etc in the kitchen, detergent, hairdryer and extra toiletries, etc. We were extremely comfortable and felt right at home.
There was a small but excellent grocery store at the bottom of the hill, as well as a pharmacy, and a coffee bar. Everything in town was a short walk. The town isn't huge, but had a good selection of restaurant options, all within walking distance. We also walked a couple of miles to La Grazie, a neighboring port town, for a phenomenal seafood lunch at Il Gambero. The bus to neighboring towns and to the small city of La Spezia leaves from right in front of the pharmacy, and was convenient and easy to use.
Hiking in the region was challenging but rewarding with stupendous views. The ferry is located right at the main dock to take you to Portofino or the CT. We were so enthralled with the trail right out of Portovenere up into the hills that we never made it to the CT trails. With so much beauty all around us we didn't feel the need to pay for the ferry to journey farther afield.
The building was modern and well maintained. It was quiet when we were there, with, it seemed, only one other family in residence. (We were there before the official "season" began so things were low-key and uncrowded; I'm told it becomes much more bustling in the summer. I'm not sure of the number of apartments in the building, but maybe 8-10.
The set up of the private porch ensured privacy and views simultaneously. No pool or garden, just views, views, views!
The furniture wasn't brand new but was good quality and comfortable. Everything was clean and well-thought out.
Some reviewers on Trip Advisor complain about the bathroom layout. The shower and toilet are in very close proximity, which we didn't find a problem, but others might see it as a minor annoyance. The sink/vanity area is separate and convenient in size. The shower, when we were there, was Italian style with no walls or curtain. We did have trouble preventing puddles all over the floor, but the charming owner told us they were getting glass put in soon.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Our experience with Francesca at Sea and Country Villas was very positive. She was prompt in her replies, helpful and friendly, and worked to find a solution to a problem we had when our credit card wasn't recognized by the company's online billing service. Francesca's English was very good. The owner's was about on par with our Italian - pretty basic - but he was so warm and helpful that we managed to communicate and chat.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I highly recommend Francesca's company, Sea and Country Villas; I would look at her properties first if I were in the market for a villa elsewhere in the region, and I will definitely be returning to Casa del Mare.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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