Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5365: Owner, Le Vigne
4bed/3bath apartment near Perugia, Umbria
July 2012, One week
Le Vigne is located in the small town of Bosco in Umbria. It sits on a rise and has beautiful views of olive groves, sunflower and other fields, as well as nearby and distant hills and wooded areas. It is a very private location, although there are neighboring homes. It is perfectly located for day trips to Perugia, Assisi, and other well-known (and some not so well known, but well worth visiting!) places in Umbria and Tuscany.
There were no shops within walking distance. The nearest grocery store and restaurants were within 10-15 minutes' drive.
The building is a casa colonica dating back at least several hundred years. The American owners, who have lived there for 10 years, have done a wonderful job restoring and maintaining the home and grounds. Guests stay in the upper level, while the owners live on the ground floor. An outside stairwell leads to the front door of the apartment, which opens onto a living area and eat-in kitchen. Two bedrooms are directly off the living area, each with a bathroom. Two other bedrooms are off a hallway from the living area, with a shared bathroom in the hall.
The apartment as a whole is not air conditioned; there are units in three of the four bedrooms and those did not work very well (to be fair, it was unseasonably hot when we arrived, with 100+ temperatures). Unfortunately, the apartment was quite warm, even when it cooled down outside and all the windows were open, which made it uncomfortable, particularly for sleeping.
The grounds were exceptional. There were several shaded sitting areas, with hammocks strung between trees, in addition to many acres of terraced walls, olive, fruit and other trees, sunflower fields, and kitchen garden plots. There was a large pool that is older but reasonably maintained, a clay tennis court that needed some surface maintenance, and a bocce court. Other than a covered gazebo by the pool, there were no dedicated outside dining areas or grills for guest use.
The outside spaces were private in the sense that there were no other guests to share with, but as the owners live there, they and their gardening staff are frequently outside as well.
The furniture was in good condition and the apartment was clean. There was plenty of room at the eat-in kitchen table, but not enough space for all seven guests to sit comfortably in the living area and, for example, watch a movie, without bringing in kitchen chairs for additional seating.
There were roll-down screens in all of the windows, which was nice. The owners rightly practiced "shutter management" -- keeping windows and shutters closed against the sun -- to help keep the house cool, which marginally helped the temperature but unfortunately made the apartment very dark (and overhead lights further increased the temperature indoors).
The bedrooms were fairly spacious and beds were comfortable. There was sufficient clothes storage in various chests and wardrobes. The three full bathrooms (two with showers, one with a tub/shower) were nice, with good water pressure.
The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, beautiful ceramic dishes, glasses and utensils. There was a gas oven with four burners, apartment-sized refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer/dryer, which was nice to have, although we used the backyard clothesline during our summer stay. We enjoyed preparing meals in the kitchen, in addition to having a five-course cooking demonstration there one evening.
Problems or Bonuses
We won our week at Le Vigne through a school fundraising auction and knew nothing about it, other than that we loved the photos and wanted to visit Umbria. The photos did not disappoint; Le Vigne is a beautiful property and the owners clearly have worked and continue to work hard to keep it that way.
As a group that has traveled to Italy several times before, some of whom speak and understand a little Italian, however, we found that a stay here would be better suited to people with little or no foreign travel experience. Travelers who are looking for hosts that will direct nearly all of their daily activities, and accompany them to many of the scheduled events, without regard to cost, would enjoy Le Vigne.
We truly appreciated the wonderful tours (Marco Bellanca, who gave us tours of Perugia and Assisi, is a treasure!), local artisan experiences (Valentina Belia at La Bottega delle Ceramiche is another gem, as is her mother, Clara, who prepared a lovely meal for us) and restaurant visits that the owners organized and/or recommended for us. On the other hand, because we sought a mostly independent vacation experience, and were not aware when we won the week at auction how "hands on" the owners are with their guests, we felt that we inadvertently had upset or insulted our hosts. This made for some awkward and uncomfortable moments.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with the owners of Le Vigne. As we won the week at a fundraising auction, we did not pay the high season rental amount of €6,600 that is listed on the website.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
As much as we loved Le Vigne's setting and location, we would not stay there again; chiefly because we prefer a more independent travel experience. I would recommend Le Vigne to first time travelers who find comfort in knowing that everything will be taken care of while they are on their Italian vacation. Of course, these travelers will also have to have very deep pockets!
Things to do in this area
Day trips to Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio, Bevagna, Montefalco ... there are too many wonderful cities and little towns to name them all!! All seem to be less than an hour away, and many are much closer.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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