Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 593: Summer's Leases, La Felicita
1bed/2bath apartment in Montone, Umbria
May 24-31, 2003, 1 week
La Felicita is located on the town walls of Montone and overlooks rolling farmland stretching to Umbertide and the mountains (Pennsylvaina type mountains, not Colorado type)on the other side of Umbertide. The Tiber river runs past Umbertide but is not visible from the apartment. There are other apartments in the same building and noise could travel, but our neighbors were quiet and considerate. Vehicular traffic noise was almost non-existant. Most of the sounds we heard were birds, children playing in an elementary school up the hill and soccer practice on the town field. The location is idyllic.
We had to walk maybe the equivalent of 2 city blocks or less to the town center with small shops where we could get fresh veggies & fruit, canned and baked goods, meat (fresh, cooked and preserved (salami). Also in the town center were 2 bars with excellent coffee and gelato, 3 high quality restaurants and a pizza by the slice place. Outside the town walls, but an easy walk was another casual bar/pizzaria/restaurant. A little further but still walkable for the hardy was yet another restaurant, several grocery shops and a bakery. I loved walking out in the morning to shop for the day. I regretted we didn't stay long enough to try all the restaurants.
Being part of the town wall, the building was definitely historical. We saw 3 doors to other apartments off the little entryway. The building was in excellent shape, in fact the whole street seemed to have been recently restored. It was near impossible to find anything in Montone that looked dirty or run down.
Off the living room is a private terrace overlooking the countryside and great for viewing sunsets. It is large enough to accommodate table and chairs for 4-6, umbrella and 2 nice loungers plus a drying rack for your laundry. There are balconies that can look down on the terrace, so it is not private enough for nude sunbathing! No pool.
The apartment was immaculate and beautifully decorated. 4 rustic chairs and table in dining area, 2 very nice chairs in living room which you can see on the Summers Leases web site, plus a very cushy butter yellow love seat perfect for little naps.
Bed was very comfortable. Bedroom was beautifully and tastefully decorated. Bedroom is on the floor below the living/kitchen area with a narrow spiral staircase communicating the two. The bedroom is actually a nicely restored basement/cantina with high window by the bed opening onto the terrace and large arched door opening onto the steep street, which is pedestrian only because it is mostly steps. The sleeping area is separated from the entry/dressing area by a wooden lattice from a convent. In the cooler or rainy seasons it might get a bit damp, but we found it refreshing on some of the warmer days.
Both bathrooms were nicely tiled and immaculate. On the lower lever there was toilet, sink and non-enclosed shower just off the entrance from the street. The upstiars bathroom was larger with enclosed shower, toilet, sink and bidet and a view worthy of a painting (which I did). It was really nice for us to each have our own bathroom to stow our toiletries. Water pressure and temperature were excellent.
There were more than enough pots, pans and dishes for 2-4 people, plenty of kinves and gadgets including a mezzaluna. 4 gas burners and an electric toaster oven were fine for us. Prehaps a heavy duty gourmet cook who has a mega kitchen at home may find it small, but we were happy. (besides, who goes to Italy to cook big meals? I cooked only on the condition that DH did all the washing up)
The kitched also had a washing machine. Instructions for all appliances were in a notebook but bring your Italian dictionary!
Problems or Bonuses
No bad surprises. The quality of decor and facilities, the quietness and cleanliness of the apartment and town were good surprises.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Agency was friendly and courteous all the way. The apartment owner was gracious and spoke enough English to orient us to the apartment and town. The Summers Leases contact in Perugia is English and was readily available when we needed to call about being late for arrival. They also had very complete instruction book and other helpful literature in the apartment.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Would we stay there again? Absolutely! Would also recommend to my best friend.
Qualification: Because of the steep street, the hilly nature of Montone and the spiral staircase it would not be a good place for someone with mobility problems. As with any hilltown, it is necessary to negotiate curvy roads to get in and out, so one must be prepared to deal with that as well.
Things to do in this area
Interesting things to do: Sit at a table under an umbrella in the town square, eat gelato and watch the children play and older folks converse.
Take a walk on a white road heading out of town and admire the views as you climb.
Eat a light meal on the terrace, watching the sun go down and swallows swooping by.
Visit the many historic and artistic towns (Assisi, Citta di Castello, Cortona, Siena, Montefalco, etc)in the area.
Restaurants: Montone has several good restaurants, but we only tried two. ErbaLuna is upstairs over one of the bars on the town square. Make reservations ahead of time to sit at the window with its fabulous views. Among some of the dishes we had: Antipasta: small risotto(white and wild) timbale clad in paper thin zuchinni and shaved scallions and decorated with 4 tiny spears of wild asparagus. The risotto had a very subtle hint of caramel. Primo: gnocchi with light sauce of cream, mild cheese and rosemary. Secondi: boned guinea fowl seasoned with rosemary, wrapped in pancetta or some kind of mild bacon and grilled and accomapnied by firm small onion quarters that were deep red from being cooked in red wine. DH had a beautifully grilled and sauced duck breast accompanied by thinly sliced spiced apples. Price for 2 courses for each of us, plus dessert and a bottle of table wine was under 100 Euros. Service was good, and we would later see our server several times with her family and dog in town, and she would always greet us.
The other restaurant was called Le Fonte (I think) and is just outside the walls. We ate here on a Sunday afternoon with a bunch of Italian families out for a drive (some on motorcycles). Very casual, friendly atmosphere with good and abundant homestyle Italian food.
We would have liked to tried the other restaurants but would often have a larger meal while out sightseeing and only want a light snack in the evening when we arrived "home" in Montone.
Shops: There is a linen shop next to the butcher on the main square. It isn't always open but is worth a visit if it is. A lovely and talented woman buys quality goods and makes various types of table linens, adding hand crocheted edges. You can see her sitting in her shop crocheting.
The tobacconist on the main square had a nice supply of postcards and maps.
There is also a hairdresser on the square who gave me a shampoo, haircut and styling for about 25 Euro and in less time than it took the washing machine DH was tending to complete one load.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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