Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 483: La Bella Toscana, La Civetta
2bed/1bath cottage near San Gimignano, Tuscany West
October 5 - October 12, 2002, one week
This cute little independant cottage is located about 1 km outside from San Gimignano along the Via Vecchia or old Roman road. It is close enough to walk into town and this road is gravel and does not have a lot of traffic. The driveway has a sturdy bar, similar to a railroad grate, which is padlocked so that no trespassers can wander down to the property. The driveway is gravel and bumpy and narrow. There is no room at all to pass another car, hence the gated drive. The cottage is at the bottom and parking is behind the house with plenty of room to maneuver. Next to the cottage is another small farmhouse which is used by the owners on some weekends. There is a pool reached by a few steps. Behind the house are vineyards and you can look up on the towers of San Gimignano. There are two different outdoor sitting areas, one right outside of the house and the other near the pool. The area was wooded and very private and very quiet.
Poggibonsi is close by and has a Coop. San Gimignano is within walking distance and since parking seemed to be a nightmare we walked into town a lot, although after finding a porcupine quill we became a little leery of walking back in the dark!
The cottage was very secure. The huge "barn" style door had a heavy locking mechanism which screwed down far into the concrete. The inner door was glass. There was only the one door opening off of the living room unto the terra cotta tiled patio with outdoor furniture. The windows lunette windows had glass which could be flipped down. Wrough iron covered the outside of the windows as decoration and for security. The main room has a small kitchen with an l-shaped counter. The water heater is mounted high on the wall. We always had plenty of hot water.
There is no oven other than a toaster oven but there are four burners. This was an extremely well stocked kitchen -- plenty of dishes, knives pots and pans, wine glasses, even a food mill. Kitchen table seats four. On the other side of the room are a loveseat and two chairs set around a trunk to be used as a coffee table. There is no TV. There was plenty of lighting and the couch and chairs were comfortable. Nice tasteful furnishings.
There is a short hallway and on the left the small bathroom. Not much counter space so we ended up using the deep windowsill (this window was frosted for privacy). The only other space to put stuff was on a high shelf above the toilet so not ideal. The toilet has a bidet built in when you pressed a button - rather odd! The shower is in a corner with sliding glass doors and is tiny but water presser and amount of hot water were good.
Across the hall from the bathroom is the bedroom with an armoire at the foot of the bed and a double bed. Nightlights on either side, and a bookshelf with several books in a variety of languages left by other travelers. There were plenty of blankets and we slept well. The mattress could have been a little better, it seemed old rather than firm. Pillows were okay.
The room at the end of the hall holds an small airmoie and a small bed, great for a child. We used it to put all of our luggage on.
The outside area was surrounding by potted geraniums and a hose coiled up. The vineyards border right up to the property and the information provided by the rental agency said that we could cut through them to walk into town but we felt weird about doing this since we could not discern any sort of path. We just walked up the driveway and then up the old Roman road into town. There are flashlights which we used on the way back after dark. Though it was too cool to swim the pool was too shallow to dive into but was a good size with a laddar at one end. There was a net for cleaning too.
The cottage was very clean and nice. The house would be great to rent in the summer because the walls are so thick they keep out the hot summer sun.
The bedrooms are small, as is the bathroom but since only two people or a couple and small child would be staying here that is okay.
We made several full meals here and had no problems. We were told where extra gas was should we need to use it.
Problems or Bonuses
We loved being able to walk into town and the privacy was excellent. Though it was too cold, skinny dipping would have been totally feasible. The pool is secluded as is the house. This would depend on whether or not anybody was renting the other house on the property but we were told from the start that we had the place to ourselves. The owner did not ask for a security deposit. She knew no English but was very excited because we were on our honeymoon and wanted us to feel welcome.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency was great. The have properties in a small area so that they cannot spread themselves too thin and they know English.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would stay here again definitely. The second bedroom is more suited to a child. Day trips to Colle V'elsa, Volterra and both Siena and Florence are easy. I would recommend a car because San Gimignano is touristy and small and you can see most of it in a few days. It is great not having to drive to dinner every night. I am curious why the agency no longer works with this propery, perhaps it has a new owner who is charging more than La Bella Toscana would like them to, as most of there properties are very affordable. We paid 440 Euros for the weekly rental. The directions to get here say to drive into a winery/agriturismo to cut over to the Via Vecchia road which was weird to drive through their property but it was easy to find.
Things to do in this area
The gelato at Gelateria di "Piazza" was to die for. The banana was great and for something unique try the vernaccia gelato. San Gimignano is busy and touristy but still magical. After dark the bus tours leave and it is a much different animal. We never made it to the "american bowling" place about 5 kms outside of town on the way to Poggibonsi. Volterra is close by and the Etruscan museum should not be missed, although the scary hole in the floor bathrooms are not fun if you are a woman.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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