Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 518: Seaview Travel, Torre Giordano
1bed/1bath house in Asciano, Tuscany South
3/29/03 - 4/5/03, 1 week
Asciano, about 1/2 hour south of Siena. It's a smaller town but has a Coop supermarket, a couple alimentari, a meat market, a couple of very good restaurants and other shops. There's a very good gelateria in town. It's a picturesque town and the drive through the Crete Senesi to Siena is gorgeous. The tower is separate and stands on the edge of town, so that, coupled with the very thick walls, make it very quiet.
There are bars, pasticceria, alimentari, gelato, shops and 2 restaurants all in walking distance. You could also walk to the Coop supermarket on the other side of the town, but we found driving more convenient than hauling back the bags by foot. There is also an internet spot in town, open only 3 or 4 days a week at limited hours.
This is an old tower which has been beautifully renovated. It has three rooms, one on top of another, along with a roof terrace. The mix of modern fixtures and elements with the old is really well done. It's very attractive and unique and we were thrilled to stay here for a week as we found it very charming and unusual. The design for the renovation was very well conceived, incorporating even small windows which open into the old look-out holes. Very nicely done.
There is a beautiful private roof-top terrace with 2 tables and chairs, a clothes line for the laundry and great views over the town as well as out to the countryside. We enjoyed coffee up here a few times, and came up to sit and look at the stars one evening as well.
The furnishings are in excellent shape and are all comfortable. The modern-style furniture in the living room was more comfortable than we thought it looked, and enjoyed sitting in the kitchen as well. There is a long sofa and chair in the living room, the typical rustic-look table and chairs in the kitchen with a large fireplace, and a rather small bedroom with nice bed and bedside tables with good reading lamps. There is a ton of closet/storage space in the bedroom. Tables and chairs provided on the roof terrace also.
The bed was comfortable, a bit firm, with an excellent cozy comforter on the bed (it was cold in the evenings, and we had a couple cold rainy days during our stay in the end of March/early April so this was a nice cozy bonus for us!)
There is one bathroom and I have to say it's one of the smallest I've ever seen! It's serviceable for a week stay, but for anything longer I think it would be a hassle. It's actually divided in two by the entry to the bedroom (cramped space in a tower of course). The shower and toilet/bidet on one side, the sink on the other side. I personally would have left the door off the sink side as it turned out to be "dueling doors" between the two rooms opening across from each other, but it worked out alright.
The kitchen is modern and usuable with a good stove and oven, a dishwasher and a washing machine. There are the basics needed for cooking for 2 to 4 people but not more than that. Good dishware and glassware, the basics for pots and pans and stainers, plenty of silverware and utensils. It has one counter and is serviceable for cooking small meals but I wouldn't want to cook a full meal for more than 2 to 4 here due to the limited counter/work space. Again, for a week it was fine.
Problems or Bonuses
The surprise was that it was just as beautiful and unique as the photos on the website represented. Staying in a very old tower is really a neat experience. The design elements are very nice and we were impressed with the thoughtfulness of the storage, the good design for the overall use of limited space. The drawbacks are minor: lots of stairs because each room is on top of the others, so it's certainly not appropriate for people with limited mobility or for children. The kitchen has modern stainless steel fixtures and the sink has a high faucet - very nice looking but the practicality is that it splatters if you turn on the water too quickly. And the tiny bath may be a problem for some. There is only a small "head-shot" mirror in the bath and it would have been nice to have a full-length or at least half-length mirror somewhere. But again, it is so beatifully done and so unique that we really loved out stay here.
The owner, Signor Giordano lives next door and is very personable and concerned for his guests' well-being and happiness with the tower. He doesn't speak English but I don't think that should be too much of a problem for guests. We were able to get by with our somewhat limited Italian skills.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Booked through Seaview Travel. It was all a pretty impersonal experience but worked smoothly for online booking and payment. They speak English and did respond to email questions though one response took several days and 2 inquiries. The onsite person was the owner who is very kind and lives right next door but is not intrusive. The reality of the place is exactly as represented in the published information and really quite beautiful.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Definitely. We loved the area, loved the atmosphere of the tower, enjoyed the town of Asciano and the restaurants here, and it's a great location for touring. We would recommend it and would return in a minute!
Things to do in this area
Siena is only 1/2 hour away and from here you can very easily reach Chianti, Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Lago Trasimeno, Cortona and Arezzo. We also did a day trip to Orvieto and Todi as well as to Pitigliano in the far southern corner of Toscana. There are hotsprings nearby at Rapolano Terme (we didn't visit but it was enticing!)
There are two good restaurants in Asciano, La Mencia on the main street and La Brace a street up for there. La Brace is good home-cooking, with a few daily items available to eat there or to take home (we did both and the quality and price were fine both times). La Mencia is a bit more "upscale" but still reasonably priced and also offers wood-oven pizzas in the evenings along with their very good menu items. They also operate a rosticceria/take out food a couple doors up from the restaurant.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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