Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 50: Le Torri, Apartment
apartments on an estate near Montespertoli, Tuscany Chianti
June 2000, 2 weeks
Estate with several 1 and 2 bedroom apartments; near San Quirico in Chianti.
In June 2000, 27 family members and friends rented a large villa, Le Torri, in a small town San Quirico, about 22 kilometers South of Florence. We rented through a smaller agency, Domani. Before I describe the villa and experience, I should note I did a huge amount of research in planning such a huge and truly once-in-a-lifetime trip. When we started looking for a place large enough to house all of us, we couldn't help but have some concerns and reservations about shelling out somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 to rent a place we had only seen through pictures. So in the spring of 1999, when airfares were low, my brother and I took a survey trip to Italy to check out five potential properties (a trip still referred to as "the boondoggle" by our family). I mention this only because Domani was one of the few agencies who went out of their way to help us arrange a personal visit to Le Torri. This, alone, gave them huge credibility (and a big advantage over the other agencies) in my eyes.
Le Torri is a 13th Century villa which was last used as an olive oil factory. The Cantini family bought the property about 20 years ago and beautifully restored the villa and the grounds. The have converted the large house into nine apartments -- (5) 1-bedrooms and (4) 2-bedrooms. The apartments are all a comfortable size. Each apartment has a fully functional kitchen/living area, and one bathroom for each bedroom.
The furniture is simple but functional and all relatively new. The renovations on the house were only completed two or three years ago so kitchen and bathroom fixtures and appliances are all very modern.
The villa is an about an acre and a half of land. The grounds are all meticulously cared for and include a small grove of olive trees, a handful of fruit trees, beautiful flowers everywhere, two grilles for outdoor cooking, and several covered tables for eating al fresco. There is also a chicken coop which provides fresh eggs in the morning. Best of all, though, is a wonderful swimming pool. The pool has a completely independent section for small children.
The villa is run by Gabriele Cantini, who lives on-site with his parents. Gabriele is a very helpful, sweet young guy willing to do anything for you including arranging horseback riding, tickets to Florence museums, dinner reservations, etc. He is still learning English so there were some very minor miscommunications but nothing of importance. I should note that Gabriele's parents also run the small alimentari in San Quirico. They will provide you will fresh bread and milk daily upon request.
On our last night, the family prepared an excellent meal for my entire family (for a more than reasonable price). This was a very special way to end an exceptional holiday.
I really can't say enough about the villa and the people at Le Torri. As I said, we entered this trip with a "once-in-a-lifetime" expectation but after our stay at Le Torri, everyone in the family has begun planning the sequel. In fact, the family was so impressed by the accommodations, they've even almost forgiven my brother and I for our boondoggle.
Working with Domani was a pleasant experience. As I said, their willingness to help arrange the early visit was incredibly helpful. My only small critique of Domani was that they could have provided a little more information about the services available at Le Torri. For example, as I said, Gabriele was willing and able to arrange for advance tickets to the Uffizi and Accademia with some advance notice. This would have been nice to know. Some family members actually used Weekend in Firenze for these museum reservations. Not a big deal, but they would have a little more flexibility had they waited and allowed Gabriele to make these arrangements.
The cost of Le Torri was, I think, more than reasonable. Because we rented the entire villa, we got a discounted price (somewhere in the neighborhood of $600/week for a 1-bedroom and $800 for a 2-bedroom). While there, we did learn that Gabriele maintains his own web site for the property and you can book directly through him. I hesitate to mention this because I hate to cost Domani any business but, in truth, we will book directly through Gabriele when we return.
Pauline asks: Why did you decide to go with a place that was divided up into apartments instead of finding one of those huge villas for 27 people? >>We went into the planning of this trip with the idea that we would find one of those huge villas. However, the apartment thing worked out for a couple of reasons: First, ten of us wanted to stay in one place for two weeks while the rest of the group wanted the villa for only one week. Obviously, it would not have been financially practical for ten of us to pay for the entire place for that extra week. So, for the first week, we had three of the nine apartments in Le Torri and then filled the entire place for the second week. Second, and this is mostly in retrospect, the apartments did provide a little extra privacy that was appreciated after traveling together for a couple of weeks.<<
Pauline asks: Was the villa in the town of San Quirico? Could you walk to a caffe or store? >>The villa was actually just on the outskirts of San Quirico. We were within walking distance of a cafe/bar and a couple of stores. These was a key part in choosing Le Torri. While I like the idea of being on an isolated farm, we also wanted the option of being able to walk into a town -- no matter how small.<<
Pauline asks: Are there private outdoor areas for each apartment or do all apartments share the grounds? >>The grounds are pretty much shared by all of the apartments. There is, however, enough space that we never felt like we couldn't have our own space.<<
Pauline asks: Can you give a few more details of the apartment that you stayed in? Are all the apartments similar or would some be better than others. >>The lay-out, size, and furnishings of the apartments are pretty similar. The only differences really the views. Le Torri is a three-story villa. The ground floor has three one bedroom apartments plus the owners apartment and a laundry room (one washer shared by all apartments). Obviously, these apartments don't have much of a view but they are the newest of the apartments and open onto a nice garden. The first floor has two 2-bedroom apartments and one 1-bedroom. The two bedroom apts each contain a queen size and one set of twin bedrooms, each with its own bathroom (showers -- no tubs). One of the 2-bedroom apartments has a room with a really beautiful wood queen bed set. All of the furnishings are nice but this one did stand out. The second floor also has two 2-bedrooms and one 1-bedroom apt. The views from here are, obviously, the best. The only drawback is climbing the steps to your apt.<<
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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