Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4373: Owner, Castellino Bucine
1bed/1bath apartment in Bucine, Tuscany East
September 2009, 2 weeks
We stayed in Castellino Bucine for two weeks. Bucine is a smaller town/city about 25 km from Arezzo; 35 km from Siena. There is good access to shopping, i.e. groceries, etc. There are not very many restaurants in Bucine. There is fairly good, but limited train service and the station is within walking distance from the city centre. There is a direct train to Florence and Arezzo and Chiusi. Not much to do in Bucine - not much history or large centro storico.
Our apartment (Castellino Bucine) was situated in the centro storico just up the hill from the main shopping street. It was on the ground floor of a two story building (another apartment rental upstairs). The building was older from the 16th century and has been refurbished by the owners. The owners used to live in the ground floor apartment but have since returned to Germany. They have local residents managing the property for them.
There is a lovely garden in the back, which used to belong to the Medici family. One drawback is there is no direct access from the apartment to the garden area - you must go out the main doors to the building. The garden is shared also with the tenants upstairs, so not completely private. The garden was obviously not tended to for some time -- and it had not been cleaned or tidied for tenants' arrival. There were pine needles and leaves all over the tables and chairs and the patio. We had to clean it off ourselves.
The apartment has been modernized in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is well equipped for cooking although counter space is limited. The bathroom is very modern. There is a large bedroom with wardrobe, a dining room (large) off the kitchen with a fireplace, a small area they called the living room off the bedroom with a sofa and a small dresser. And there is laundry (washer) available in the apartment, which is a plus for a longer stay.
If you stay in Bucine, you really do need a car for at least part of your stay. You can rent from Avis in Arezzo right across from the train station - very good rates.
Why I would not recommend this apartment: While the apartment is large and nicely modernized, it is very dark with few windows and even fewer light fixtures. Also, it was not clean! We agreed to pay €49 from our deposit for final cleaning because that was what the owner demanded; however, upon arrival we would have thought we would then be coming into a spotlessly clean apartment. Not the case. The floors (tile) were so dirty you didn't want to take your shoes off. I spilled a bit of water on the floor in the first day we were there and when I wiped it up with paper towel it came back just black and filthy!
They advertise the big jetted tub in the bathroom. Yes, it is there but you wouldn't want to use it! The jets are filled with black mold and the cord from the shower head is also moldy. Only showers to be taken here! You would not want to fill the tub with water and sit in it -- disgusting. The floors in the bathroom were no cleaner than the rest of the apartment.
We received one skimpy towel each per week - not even a full bath-size towel plus one hand towel. The bedding did get changed after one week, but there was no other cleaning done while we were there.
I don't think the property managers are doing a very good job for the owner, or perhaps the owner just doesn't care. We did not have a contact number for the owners or know where they lived, so we could not contact them if anything went wrong and were supposed to call the owner in Germany with any problems (?). So when the light bulbs burnt out in the dining room, we were supposed to call Germany to get them replaced? Crazy.
I think the owner of this apartment is trying to have the renters take care of her cost of doing business, i.e. paying for the final clean, which I think is probably just a payment to the local managers to clean each time. We also had to pay extra to bank transfer the deposit and final payment to Germany as she did not want an international money order. (She would have had to pay to cash it no doubt). So we ended up paying a lot extra to satisfy her requirements. I think, in retrospect, we should have not rented from her. Obviously she did not wish to have any expense to her for running a vacation property.
So, our question remains what the €49 cleaning was for? I wonder if the people who occupied this apartment after us found it clean. I rather doubt it.
We will not rent this apartment again. We would not stay in Bucine - not a good base for a Tuscan holiday. We would not recommend this apartment to anyone, ever!
We feel personally offended by this review, as it by no means reflects either the state of our house or our attitude towards our guests. The customer in question clearly did have our contact details, as she mentions herself that we discussed payment methods, yet she made no mention or complaint to us about cleanliness in any conversation during or after her stay.
We pride ourselves in making our holiday apartment homely and welcoming and cleanliness is (and always was) a top priority for us. We have been renting our apartment for six years and have an excellent review from a Slow Traveler (see review 2649 and a good reputation locally. We would urge you to read the reviews of other guests, many of them honeymooners, who were delighted with their stay – so much so, that many have returned to stay with us a second time.
Note from SlowTrav: The owner refers to reviews from other guests but on SlowTrav we only have one other, referenced above.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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