Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 492: Papavero Rentals, Il Cappello
2bed/1bath apartment in Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany South
May 2002, 2 weeks
This apartment in the cute little village of Bagno Vignoni, is in a building that looks like it was once a large house. It contains 6 apartments, two on each floor, seperated by a large stone staircase. Our apartment is on the second (top) floor. The other apartments are rented to Italians and we hardly ever saw them. The location was just enchanting, this town surrounds the warm baths that have been here since the time of the Romans and the building we stayed in was not along the baths, but behind it. I imagine 500 years ago it was considered the edge of town.
There are quite a few very good restauarants steps from our apartment but we never were bothered by the noise, just sometimes the smell would make us hungry again! In front of the house was a small street and then the town square, which was in proportion to the town (small) again very quiet in the evenings. The town does not allow cars, except to bring your luggage to and from the apartment. You park in the resident parking lot and it is a very short walk to the apartment.
We loved the area, we were in the region called Crete where you see all the rolling hills and tall cypresses lined up in rows. Staying in this town made it easy access to get in and out of our base for easy sightseeing to wherever we wanted to go that day. Montepulciano, Pienza, Montelcino, Arezzo, etc. A main road was right outside of the town so it was very easy to get in and out each day.
Yes, we could walk a few meters to the hotel at the entrance of the town. Facing the baths is a bar where we would start our day with a cappuccino and pastry before heading off to explore the area. The nearest grocery store was in the next town, San Quirico. We loved going there in the evening to take a walk with all the residents and experiencing a little 'excitement'. I quote that because being in Bagno Vignoni is very very quiet and just lovely and this next village seemed like everything was happening there! We had a ritual before we retired for the night we would take a walk around the spa baths. The ancient medieval houses on the right, the mist rising up from the baths on the left and the peace and quiet of the night is something we will remember our entire lifetimes.
The apartment was wonderful, clean, well equipped and in excellent shape. We loved the bathroom with bright lights and all new tiles and whitewashed walls. Very very comfortable. The beds were so firm and comfortable that it was hard to get out of them in the morning! We slept with the windows open that faced the fields behind the town and could hear the larks at night and the cookoo birds in the morning. The large stone staircase leading to the second floor was on a nice angle so they were not difficult to handle. There are six apartments in this building, two on each floor. The other apartments are all rented by non-tourists and we hardly every saw them.
There was a town square in front of our apartment separated by a street. No cars so there was no traffic. The square was almost always empty, even though it had a bench. Probably because there is a small park at the end of the road, just a few meters from the apartment. Also the men would gather across the park at a small bar each evening and talk in a quiet tone. You could never hear them unless you went walking.
Furniture was very comfortable and in excellent shape. There was a sofa and chairs around a fireplace and the dining room table sat 4 people. The kitchen is really small but we only made dinner once in two weeks, and used it more for snacking. The aroma from the restaurant next door would waft its way up to our window and all we had to do was look at each other and we would bolt for the door. The food was marvelous and inexpensive. The apartment was immaculate.
The beds were firm and oh so comfortable. We sure slept well and kept asking ourselves was it because they are so comfortable or we were so tired? The bedrooms were very nice, a large dresser and an armoire and chair in both rooms. We had plenty of room to store everything. We only had one bathroom, and knew that when we booked it and we girls planned our showers before going to bed. So it wasn't a problem for us. We loved the bathroom, it was very spacious, with brand new bathroom fixtures, hot water and good water pressure and the lights! They were so bright and cheerful. We just loved it. The washing machine was in the hallway in an enclosed wooden hutch, very neat and tidy. It also held the iron and other laundry equipment. There was plenty of detergent and softener for our use. Which reminds me that when we arrived there was a bottle of Chianti on the table and a note that we could help ourselves to the liquor cabinet and any staples in the kitchen. It was a very warm welcome indeed.
The kitchen is very small, but is functional. There is a small area with the cabinets and oven, stove and refrigerator and the kitchen sink is in a small alcove that only one person can fit in. However there was a window to look out of above the kitchen sink so you didn't feel claustrophobic. There was plenty of pots and pans, dishes and cutlery of good quality. Even pasta bowls, water pitchers, strainers, etc. We only cooked one full meal in the kitchen but only because we preferred to eat out. It was so inexpensive and so delicious and the town has four great restaurants, so the times that we were at home, we wanted just all gravitated to the door and followed our noses.
Problems or Bonuses
It was pure joy staying in this apartment and it was a pleasant surprise because the price was so reasonable and the apartment just so perfect. The only "off" thing is that there is a small cat door cut out of the building's front door and the residents feed the wild cats. Sometimes you will see a cat or two in the apartment when you return home at night or hear them meowing to each other. We were told about this when we booked the apartment but it didn't bother us as we have 4 cats of our own. We were there in Spring and the swallows were nesting in the roof top under the tiles. It was pretty interesting to see them swooping through the town square up to the apartment building. Sometimes we thought they were going to miss and end up in the house but they never did. It was pretty to see them swooping past the windows once we realized they knew where they were going.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency we dealt with was very knowledgable of all the properties we inquired about. They were able to give us suggestions of which house/apartment would suit us based on talking to us. The place was even nicer than we had expected. We had a major delay getting to Italy and we arrived around 10 in the evening. We called when we landed at the airport and they were very understanding. Although the owner of the apartment lived in a nearby town, she decided to have dinner at one of the next door restuarants and wait for us. We can't tell you how kind she was. We never needed her during the week, so we didn't see her until we checked out at the end of our stay. But she did have fresh flowers and a bottle of wine on our dining room table when we arrived.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again in a heartbeat. We just had the best time. Infact, we are planning another trip to Italy and we are so tempted to stay here again. The only reason we would not is that we want to experience a different area. However, we are all thinking of maybe a return trip.
Things to do in this area
My favorite restaurant was right across the square from the apartment and was recommended by the rental agency. Osteria Del Leone no address the town is so small, make a left when you enter the town, and it is straight ahead. phone number 0577-883700. MAGNIFICENT food. ALso La Porta 0577-887112 and Le Terme 0577-887112 was very good and inexpensive. In San Quirico, the next town over has a very good restaurant, La Locanda di Fonte Alla Vena located on the oldest street in town, Via Dante Aligheiere, 37 phone number 0577-899945.
This area is a great location for exploring the nearby hill towns. Pienza, Montepulciano, and many small towns that we found very interesting. Also made trips to Arezzo, Cortina, Siena and even a trip to Florence. Beautiful scenery everywhere you go. We just loved it.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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