Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4253: Villa & Charme, Villa Tere (#2502)
12bed/11bath house near Cavriglia, Tuscany Chianti
July 10-25, 2009, 2 weeks
Sits on hill above Cavriglia, surrounded by their own olive groves and beautiful gardens. Very private. Did have a neighboring house but only saw the man when he walked his dog into the village. Larger town of Montevarchi was about eight miles away with large Coop for shopping. Radda in Chianti was 25 minutes away, Arezzo was 45 minutes, Siena was one hour by car and Florence was 35 minutes by train from Montevarchi.
There was a dirt path through the olive groves where you could walk down to Cavriglia but the walk back up was a little tiring. We would drive down for gelato, some mornings for lattes, and for smaller grocery store, only took a few minutes. The train station is in Montevarchi, about 25 minutes and it had a very large Coop store there. Was sort of like a super Walmart with no organization, tires across from bakery, it was an experience but they did take Visa, which was nice.
The villa was built back in the 1800's for wealthy Florence doctor's family. It's been completely restored and is just like I'd imagined a Tuscan villa would be. On the ground level you enter through wonderful double wood doors into a large entrance hall, to the right is a large living room with two sofas and chairs and TV to the left there is a room with sofa, table, desk, this room has good WiFi reception and allowed a few of the husbands to do some business on their laptops. There is a grand staircase further down the entry foyer with a charming 1/2 bath tucked under the stairs. A bedroom with double bed with French doors to the outside and bath with shower is past the staircase. The large dining room (seats at least 20) is straight ahead; it has French doors leading to outside patio surrounded with lavender, it also connects to the kitchen. Out of the kitchen is a pantry, which has a washing machine, shelves, toilet, laundry sink and drying racks. Hall then connects to back staircase and another entrance/exit to outside yard. There is also an elevator that connects all floors of the villa.
The stairs/elevator up, enters a first floor large foyer which then has two double bedrooms and one twin bedroom and two baths on one side and on the other side a large living room with TV, which is shared by one double bedroom with claw-foot tub and shower and another double bedroom with bathroom. You can then take either the main staircase, the back staircase or the elevator up to the second floor, which also has a large foyer with a spiral staircase that leads up to the rooftop patio. The upstairs is divided into three apartments, one has a good size living room with TV then there are two twin bedrooms, each with bathrooms, off another side of foyer is the next apartment with smaller living area, a daybed (twin) then a double bedroom with bathroom, off other side is another living room with daybed then a double bedroom and bathroom. All the apartments had small fridges in living rooms, sinks and tables.
I put my sisters and daughter with their four sons on the top level, on the middle level I had my nieces, two friends, myself and my parents and on the ground level I had my brother. One night the four boys all put their mattresses on the floor of the top foyer and "camped" out with the door to the rooftop open it was just like being outside. The kids all used the backstairs so no noise was noticed by them running up and down. I had seven kids and 13 adults with total comfort in the house. Ages 81 to 11.
The house has air-conditioning, which is extra but we never needed it, just opened the windows and the shutters at night and then in morning closed the windows and shutters.
The house is surrounded with manicured gardens, nice flat area, easy to walk around. There is a wonderful large teak table and chairs under a covered arbor. We spent most of our time sitting there and all but one meal outside. Down a path is a large pool, with plenty of teak lounges and chairs, also a covered area with chairs and the most wonderful view of olive groves and surrounding hills, very private. There's also a bathroom w/ shower down at the pool.
The owners are building an area for a pizzeria; they have a special outdoor oven already and will have ready for next year a another separate eating area just for the pizza making etc. They did pizzas for us one night, let the kids roll dough and put on the toppings, great fun.
The olive groves were enjoyed by the kids, they played tag, and hide/seek.
There were plenty of sofas, chairs scattered among the various living areas. You could get away for alone time or go be with the others, plenty of space.
All three foyers had motion-sensor lights, which was very helpful. The house also had outside lights that are on automatic.
We had no complaints about the beds or the bathrooms. Each bedroom had large armoires and the bathrooms had shelves. The kids were amused by the bidets but did not like the bath towels. Due to not having dryers the bath towels are the waffle weave and aren't as soft as what we're used to here in the states. Couldn't understand how they're able to have really nice pool towels and keep them soft.
A housekeeper came in three times a week to clean up, change sheets/towels once a week.
I had arranged for the owner to have a prepared cold supper for our arrival, what a feast awaited us in the fridge, along with wine, drinks for the kids and dessert. We had her cook a total of four meals for us, prices were very reasonable. We then did the rest of the cooking ourselves.
The kitchen has large fridge, separate freezer, large gas stove, huge sink and best of all a commercial dishwasher that washes in four minutes. Has a large stainless steel table in the center with a pot rack above and pots below. There is a Mr. Coffee maker (10cup)and a small espresso pot. There's plenty of dishes, silverware, and glasses for more than 20 people. My sisters wanted to take the dishwasher home with them. Turns were taken on preparing the evening meal, we did eat out a few nights and had the owner cook four meals. Everyone was on their own for breakfast and lunch but there was room to get around or you just waited your turn.
We did the major food shopping in Montevarchi; we had brought with us from home canvas shopping bags as I read that the stores charge for bags. This worked out great. There was plenty of storage for the food items in the pantry and kitchen area.
Problems or Bonuses
Loved hearing the church bells from old monastery on hill above us and another church down in Cavriglia. Became accustomed to the calls of roosters and peacocks from the monastery, drove up there one day beautiful sites and views down to the villa. A few times a week a band plays down in the village until about midnight, was funny hearing the Beatles in Italian.
The owner and her family were the best. They make their own olive oil, soaps and skin products which you can buy from her, she also makes a pretty apron with the villa's name and year of your visit, makes a nice souvenir. She takes credit cards.
The only negative was the neighbor's dog; he did like to bark. We think the lawn sprinklers set him off but after a while he stops and it really wasn't too bad.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
It was very easy working with Sabrina at Villa-Charme. I found the villa through a search for large houses. Most of our communications were done by email and they were most helpful in getting answers to my questions. I think the villa was better than they described. I paid €6800 per week for the July rental. They required a security deposit of €1500, which I got back on the departure day.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would definitely stay here again. This is a wonderful place for a large group that wants to eat together, stay together as a family etc. So many places are divided into apartments but then you don't have large enough common areas.
If you're light sleepers then bring earplugs, there are the nighttime noises from having the windows open. The floors are tile, there's high ceilings and the stairs are cement so there is some echoing. My parents used the earplugs and would have slept all day if we'd let them. The rest of us had no problems with any noises and I actually miss the roosters and crickets.
Things to do in this area
We did a day trip to Siena, Monteriggioni, Castellina in Chianti. Another morning we went over to Radda in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti. One group went to Pisa and Viareggio for the beach one day. Two different groups went by train to Florence on two days. We had a bus take 17 of us to Venice for an overnight/day visit, took about 3-4 hours to drive each way. We left by 9:30am and got back to villa by 6pm the next afternoon. Wasn't ideal but it let them at least get a taste of Venice.
We went down to Cavriglia to Notorius Cafe for gelato and ate at Il Piccolo's a couple of nights, reasonable prices, nice selection on the menu. There is a pizza store in village but it was never open when we went down.
Pretty town square. My nieces were enthralled with the young Italian boys.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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