Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 481: Cuendet, Castello La Rocca
Villa, sleeps 16, north of Florence, Tuscany North
Sept, 2001, One week
We were a group of 6 couples. It was hard to get agreement on a date, and practically everybody demanded a private en-suite bathroom. And we wanted public spaces big enough to handle the whole group: a living room with lots of seating, a dining room table big enough for everyone. It was difficult to find a property that filled all these demands. After an exhaustive Internet search, we booked the Castello La Rocca through Cuendet, approximately a year ahead of our trip.
The Castello, dating from the thirteenth century, is located in the hills north of Florence with pleasant views of unpeopled treesy countryside. It is close to the road in an enclosed compound about one-half mile from the town of Traversa, where there is a small grocery store and a large and popular restaurant.
A half hour south down a twisty road is the larger town of Barbarino di Mugello. We shopped at the supermarket there and took the bus into Florence. (This entailed parking in the town long term parking lot, walking across a bridge over the river down to the town square. At the Jolly Cafe, we got bus times and bought tickets.) The bus took us into the middle of Florence next to the main train station, from which we walked all over historic Florence. This was much more relaxing than driving into Florence and parking, and the trip back via Fiesole was spectacularly scenic.
The Castello itself was roomy and well furnished. Outdoors it had a pool with chaise lounges and umbrella-ed tables, also a terrace with a large table big enough for everybody to sit around.
The highlight of our stay was three dinners prepared by a cook. For twelve or fifteen dollars each, we had multicourse dinners featuring Tuscan specialities. (We provided the wine; Italy has a lot of very cheap but very palatable table wine.) The cook discussed the menu with us (mostly in Italian), brought some food, and prepared some in the Castello kitchen.
I would probably not go here again, just because there are lots of other interesting places I haven't been yet. But I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to my best friend. However, I would suggest renting a little earlier in the year. By late September it was getting cool and rainy in the hills.
The agency Cuendet was very helpful. They responded promptly by email to all my niggling questions. The property was very much as described. I would prefer to rent from them again.
Note: before our trip we had lots of dinners in Italian restaurants working out the details of our arrangements. Everybody paid their total contribution up front. We kept the money in a separate account. As it happened, 9/11 was just before our trip. One couple canceled out and lost their money. At the Castello we drew lots for the rooms. We kept a log of phone calls and the receipts for food purchases and balanced the books when we got home (another restaurant meeting).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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