Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5097: Agriturismo Villanova, La Zelinda Grande
3bed/1bath apartment near Levanto, Liguria
June 2011, 1 week
Our family rented an apartment at the Agriturismo Villanova, just outside Levanto in Liguria, for one week in early July 2011.
Villanova is about a five minute drive from the Levanto train station and just a minute or two more to main area of the town and the parking lots along the waterfront. It's an old estate on a hillside. There are beautiful views of the surrounding countryside, including several picturesque mountainside villages. The location doesn't enable a view of the sea.
The property consists of several different buildings (the main villa, a chapel, and a few small farmhouses. The accommodations are a mix of apartments and B&B rooms. There's some farming going on, some vines, olive trees, fruit trees, a big vegetable garden. I think they are doing enough farming to qualify as an agriturismo, but the main activity doesn't really seem to be farming.
The property includes about 15 hectares and was the former summer home of a noble family. Giancarlo now runs his family home as an agriturismo. He's a very hardworking guy, not necessarily what you might expect of a baron. We really liked his assistant Alberto, who ran the reception several hours a day and was particularly helpful to us with a family emergency.
We rented the largest apartment, the upper floor of a farmhouse situated below the main villa. There were two smaller apartments on a lower level, with entrances in very different places. Our place had a very spacious outdoor area with really nice views and a grill, table and chairs, umbrella, and lounge chairs. There are also a few public areas with activities for younger kids. Breakfast was available at the villa for an extra charge, and we did take advantage of this on the morning after our arrival.
Our apartment was about 800 square feet and really nicely furnished, including several antiques. (This was more space than what we needed, but at one point we thought our daughter might have a friend along.)
The apartment has a spacious living/dining room with a fireplace, comfortable couch and chairs, and big dining table. We had two bedrooms -- one with a big bed and the other with two twins that could also be configured as one bed. There is a tiny third bedroom with bunk beds that was locked. (You could pay for additional people and access this room. The couch also makes out into a bed.) The kitchen was small -- galley style -- but extremely well equipped, including a dishwasher. We cooked dinner at the apartment five of our seven nights. There's one bathroom with a good shower.
One of the reasons we chose this particular apartment is that it includes air conditioning ... individual units in the living room and each of the bedrooms. This was a real plus in July.
Giancarlo offer bikes for rent and he sells some agriturismo products. They also offer cooking classes and can help organize some touring activities. There was a WiFi signal near the reception area, available at an hourly rate. We had laptops and negotiated a lower rate since we needed to use the WiFi daily; we sat at one of the tables in the courtyard.
We liked being near Levanto and were happy we had decided to stay there instead of one of the Cinque Terre villages. It's a nice-sized, comfortable town on the sea, one town north (five minutes by train) of Monterosso, the first of the Cinque Terre villages. We used the train for day trips to the Cinque Terre and to Santa Margherita, and we also took the ferry another day to the Cinque Terre. There are a couple of beaches, quite a few restaurants, shops and services, several hiking trails. The town also has a small hospital with an emergency room ... where we spent part of one day. (My husband was sick -- fortunately not seriously -- and as a result we didn't do as much during our week here as we had originally planned.) For food shopping, we found everything we needed at a good supermarket near the turnoff for Villanova.
Access to Villanova is awkward and this was the only real negative for me. There is a one lane private road, a little difficult to find the first time. (To put this in perspective, the stretch on the private road is maybe 60 seconds of the five minute drive to the train station.) After crossing a bridge and using a key card to open the gate, the little road snakes sharply up the hillside. The visibility isn't good and there's a stretch where you pray you won't meet another car. Fortunately there isn't a lot of traffic, and the only time we encountered another car, we were at a place where there was a pull-off. Although the agriturismo is very near Levanto, I think you'd need to have a car... or at least rent the bikes.
We paid our deposit by a wire transfer and paid the balance in cash the night before we left.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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