Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4937: Owner, Casa Sora Chiara
3bed/3.5bath house in Montone, Umbria
October 2010, 1 week
Casa Sora Chiara is a home inside the walled medieval town of Montone in Umbria, near the Tuscany border. Montone is a lovely town, very small (I believe there are about 900 residents) and there are restaurants, a small grocery store, bar, a museum, bank and other shopping, all within walking distance. The town's elevation is high, as you drive uphill a good bit before arriving at the town gates. Since there is no driving inside the walls (other than deliveries), it's safe and easy to walk around, and there was very little traffic noise (we kept our windows open most of the time). Most of the locals were quite friendly -- our first day there, we wanted some fresh basil and the town grocer didn't have any, so one of the customers took me to his home and cut some for me from his garden! We took day trips to Siena, Gubbio, Montepulciano, Perugia and Cortona. I don't believe there's any public transportation, so you really need a car here.
The small local grocery shop is about a three-minute walk from the house. There was one restaurant almost directly across the street, and several other restaurants no more than a 5-10 minute walk. For larger grocery stores with more variety, we went to the larger city of Umbertide, which was a very short drive (maybe 10-15 minutes) from Montone.
Very historical building (built in 1100s I believe), but has been completely refurbished. On the ground floor, there is a great kitchen with a small breakfast table by a window and a larger dining table and a living area (all one large open area). The kitchen has a commercial-type stove/oven and there is a raised wood-burning fireplace in the kitchen that we really enjoyed during cool evenings or mornings. There's a full bath on the ground floor with a washer and dryer (really important to us) and a utility sink. Upstairs there is a loft-type area with a daybed and lots of books - great for lounging and reading. Then up just a couple more steps was a large bedroom with a large full bath with a deep soaking tub. Up a few more steps are two more bedrooms and a full bath. The views from these top bedrooms overlook the countryside and they are unbelievable!
There's a small private screened porch area at the front entrance to the home, but we spent more time in the town plaza area (about two minutes walk from the house) where there are several places with outdoor tables and chairs (bar, ice cream shop, restaurants). The house doesn't have a yard, but we didn't really miss having one, since you could walk out the door and see lots of green areas and flowers, and the views from the windows of the countryside outside the town walls were beautiful. There are also some park areas inside the walls.
The furniture was reasonably nice. The sofa in the living room was comfortable, but we didn't find the living room chairs to be extremely comfortable. The house was clean and there were plenty of chairs at the dining table. All of the rooms in the living/dining areas had large windows you could open that let in lots of light.
We only slept in the large bedroom and the bed was comfortable. It also had plenty of furniture for storing clothes, and a very comfy chair in front of a wood burning fireplace. Another great place for reading. The bathrooms were nice with plenty of towels and storage space. The bath off the large bedroom has a deep soaking tub, shower and bidet. There are two other bathrooms with shower, and an additional powder room/toilet. The bedrooms and bathrooms also had large windows that could be opened to let in light and air, and great views.
The kitchen was totally usable and stocked with plenty of cookware, knives, silverware, dishes and glasses (including plenty of wine glasses). The refrigerator was pretty large (especially for Europe), and there was a dishwasher! Large commercial type oven/cook-top and a microwave. We enjoyed cooking several full meals in the kitchen. There was also a service in town that the owner told us about who stocked our kitchen with groceries, drinks, pastries, snacks and a wonderful dinner (for a reasonable fee) and all was there when we arrived.
Problems or Bonuses
No surprises. We were impressed with all the great books and area information provided by the owner in the house.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with the owner, Margie, who lives in the U.S. The on site person, Anna, was there when we arrived. She was very friendly and showed us around the house. Anna lives nearby and she gave us her phone number in case we needed anything during our stay (we didn't), and she came by the morning of our departure. Both Margie and Anna speak English perfectly. The published information on SlowTrav (link above) accurately described the house, and the price was quite reasonable -- much more so than staying in a hotel.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We would definitely stay here again and would recommend Casa Sora Chiara to our friends. Our only qualification is that for toddlers or folks who have trouble walking up and down stairs (the stairs are a little steep and the bedrooms are all upstairs), it may not be the best choice.
Things to do in this area
We loved Montepulciano, Gubbio, Siena and Cortona for shopping and they were easy trips from Montone. If shopping is your main goal, you may prefer one of those towns. But they are much more crowded than Montone. Montone and Casa Sora Chiara are perfect for relaxing, clean air, strolling around town, visiting, cooking, eating, reading, history, and fantastic scenery - and easy day trips to lots of other areas.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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