Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5079: Owner, Casa Olivastra
3bed/2bath house near Seggiano, Tuscany South
July 2011, 5 days
In a superb location in the middle of nowhere down a gravel track on a steep hill, Casa Olivastra appeared like a sanctuary after three days on the road from England. Deepest, brightest countryside surrounded the house as far as you can see. Olive groves and vineyards from the Via Montecucco tumbled down the steep fields into the torrent at the valley bottom. To say it was a beautiful setting does it poor justice.
At least two miles to the nearest shop, the small Coop Supermarket in Seggiano, across the road from Cafe 60, a cheap and cheerful, albeit atmospheric al fresco pizza restaurant. Nearby a rather nouvelle cuisine restaurant with better food and stiffer prices. Didn't try it.
Totally isolated, the nearest house couldn't even be heard! At night, however the hillsides sparkled with the lights of other villas and up on the hills the towns of Castel del Piano, Seggiano and Montegiovi glowed like ships.
The villa was a new build in the old style, of warm coloured sandstone and reddish tiled roof. Apparently on the site of a nunnery. No ghosts spotted.
The dawn chorus was always a surprise. I think the locals shoot the birds for dinner. A lot of cartridges in the fields.
We are talking private ... outside there was a tiled terrace looking at the stunning hills. At the side by the main bedroom was a balcony overlooking distant fields and blue mountains. By the pool was a tiled sun-terrace, very wet from splashing children. The wild garden was in terraces and supported meadow plants, ornamental grasses, geraniums and lavender.
Clean. Clean. Clean smell. Dry stone. Warm.
Furniture, especially beds in great shape and in the antique style. Old wood.
Two bathrooms, two loos, one shower, one bath. Not stone, as advertised, but who cares?
Bedrooms, of which there were three, all very well appointed, roomy and each with large antique wardrobe. None were haunted.
A fine kitchen. Modern six ring gas hob, oven, dishwasher, good quality cutlery, crockery and pans. Toaster, electric kettle, stone sink (not advertised). Tiny plughole. Finger got stuck.
Meals for six people enjoyably prepared. By my wife. Ask her for the truth.
Problems or Bonuses
Bad surprises: no washing machine (though, admittedly, it wasn't listed) and a couple of hornets. The large poolside sunshade was broken, though it will be fixed for the next guests. Not fair. No Internet or satellite TV despite aerial and connections. BUT, thank goodness there was no Internet or TV.
Good surprises: the soldier ants outside the kitchen were harmless, the lavenders planted by the owners attract bees, The huge TV played DVDs on the rainy days and the views were better than shown on their website. Much better.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Direct owner contact. He didn't respond as quickly as we would have liked to various queries before the holiday. However, his final rather curt photo directions to the house were so accurate we found it without satnav. We had to, because the house isn't even on Google Maps. He was also very helpful on driving directions via Florence and had useful advice about avoiding lorries and tailbacks. Which we ignored, of course.
The onsite person was Gordon, the poolman. English, friendly and full of local knowledge. If we'd thought about it, we'd have phoned him earlier in the week for advice but being stubborn independent "we've driven 1200 miles to get here" types we soldiered on alone.
The price was about £800 in late July for six days (the only available slot) and we thought it was worth it. It took us (a family of six) three days and about £500 on hotels, food and diesel to get there and the same to get back but it beats Easyjet any day!
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We'd go back tomorrow if we had a magic helicopter.
Things to do in this area
We didn't get out much as the drive to get there was, let's say, tiring. We can recommend walking down to the river and seeing if our horseshoe dam is still there, eating grapes off the vine, chasing fireflies, counting stars (to Northern Hemisphere types seeing the whole of Scorpio is a buzz), flopping by the pool.
If you want, there is a restaurant and a wine-tasting vineyard within three minute's drive up the hill or perhaps a twenty minute walk. We were happy buying Montecucco reds from the Coop in Seggiano and Moretti beer and drinking them with barbecued T-bone. From the Coop.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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