Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5109: Owner (#302226), Mansion Cetona
2bed/ 2.5 bath house in Cetona, Tuscany South
August 2011, 2 weeks
The rental is located in the Porte Lateri contrade (neighbourhood) on the south end of the medieval hill town Cetona. Being in the town, there were other buildings adjacent to the rental, but still felt private. The terrace and upper balcony have a stunning view of Monte Cetona, the valley, as well as Umbria to the southwest.
Almost everything one could need can be found in the shops on Piazza Garibaldi, just a few minutes' walk from the house. Some of the streets are steep, as to be expected in a hill town, but it is not a difficult walk. Shops include bread store, butcher, pasta shop, greengrocer, general store, cafe/gelato, bar, small clothing shop, ceramic artisan. There is a small supermarket just outside the historic centre, still within walking distance, but also has a parking lot if getting a lot of supplies and want to bring the car.
There are two restaurants by the piazza, Osteria del Merlo and Osteria Vecchio da Nilo, plus a pizzeria just up the street near the supermarket. Between the house and the piazza is the wonderful Cantina La Frasca with wine tasting, cheeses and cured meats.
The building is a 16th century stone tower. It is in excellent shape, and is beautifully restored. We found it wonderfully peaceful and quiet. We had use of the full house, which consists of three floors.
Ground floor was the living area, with an open kitchen/dining room, half bath, and living room with sofa, chairs and fireplace. There is also a walled off unfinished area that we used as a cold storage room. Just up a few steps is the garden terrace and jacuzzi room overlooking the valley.
Second floor had a double bedroom and en suite with toilet, bidet, sink and bathtub. There are good sized windows in both the bedroom and the bathroom. There is also a funky little storage room carved into the stone wall.
Third floor could be rented by itself as a tiny self contained unit, having its own exterior entrance to the street above (the bottom floor opens on to the street below the tower). There was a double bedroom, plus two single bunks, study/dining area, stove and sink, washing machine, en suite with toilet, bidet, sink and shower stall, and a little balcony with the same stunning view as the lower terrace.
There was a small table and two chairs on the private terrace, with room for more chairs. We enjoyed sitting out here in morning and evening, when the terrace was not in full sun. There is a street running just below the terrace, but very little vehicle traffic and, far from being intrusive, we found it very welcoming when locals would call up greetings! There was no pool, however I noticed signs in the nearby town of Sarteano for a public pool.
The furniture was old, in keeping with the feel of the property, but in good condition. The living room sofa and chairs were very comfortable. There were only two of us, so plenty of chairs. Four people could easily fit around the dining table. There was also the second table with four chairs upstairs, if needed.
The bedrooms were lovely, very bright and airy. The beds were firm and comfortable. Lots of bathrooms, two full en suites, plus the half bath on the bottom floor, plus the jacuzzi tub off the terrace. Water pressure was good, and we had lots of hot water.
The kitchen was very well equipped. Lots of dishes, utensils and good quality pots and pans. There was also a good supply of staples, such as coffee, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, salt, pasta, etc and we were welcome to use whatever we needed. The stove was a five burner propane stove. The fridge was tucked away in a corner off the living room, but still conveniently close to the kitchen. I very much enjoyed cooking "at home", making a variety of meals during out two weeks, from pasta dishes, to grilled meat and vegetables, to a fabulous stew.
Problems or Bonuses
We really were surprised at just how amazing this property was. I arrived thinking it couldn't possibly be as good as it sounded in the ad, but it honestly is all that and more! Filled with nooks and crannies and interesting decor, even the lighting and plumbing was unusual (for example, the sink in the top floor bathroom came out of an old train, and appears to be a desk until one opens the top up to reveal the stone sink underneath!)
I would be remiss not to mention the insects. We kept the doors and windows open most of the time, so were visited by a few ants and beetles, one spider and a couple of centipedes. They weren't particularly bothersome to me or mom, but could be a problem for someone with a bug phobia. There are also little lizards living in the vines on the terrace ... we thought they were delightful.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We could not have been made to feel more welcome! Alessandra and Francesco went out of their way to introduce us around, so that local business owners would know who we were (as Alessandra said, relationships are important in Italy.) The published information is very accurate. We paid €400 per week, plus €40 final cleaning, for two weeks in August.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again in a heartbeat! Highly recommend to anyone, with no hesitation or qualification. (In fact, I already have recommended it to two people and I've only been home two weeks.)
Things to do in this area
Where to begin ... there is so much to do and see in this area of Italy. The surrounding area is full of interesting towns and countryside. Within half hour's drive is Chiusi (old town, not Scalo), Sarteano, Citta della Pieve, Piazze, Belverde (archaeological site), San Casciano dei Bagni, Montegabbione, Castiglione del Lago and much more. Within an hour's drive is Montepulciano, Pienza, Monticchielo, Radicofani, Orvieto, Cortona, Perugia, and again, much more.
We ate at several great places, including La Terrazza in Bagno Vignoni, La Bottega Memmo e Gilda in Montegiove (Umbria), as well as Osteria del Merlo (our favourite place in Cetona.)
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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