Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 697: Pie di Costa, Apartment
5 apartments on an estate in Montaione, near Florence, Tuscany Chianti
Sept 27 to Oct 4, 2003, One week
The house with four apartments is located alone on a very quiet, peaceful, and pretty site among olive trees and grapevines. It is 1-2km below a small hilltown, Montaione, which is about 12km from Certaldo and 8-10km from San Gimignano. The area is rolling hills with woods, farmland, olive orchards, and vineyards. It's not a touristy area.
The house is not far from the village, but it is a steep walk. We preferred to drive. The town is small, but has many small shops, restaurants, a COOP grocery, and a beautiful little library where we used the computer to check our Email for a small fee. We were very impressed with the library and the librarian, who said the library was mostly used by school children.
The farmhouse was purchased many years ago by the owners for their retirement home. The husband died, and the family (Filippo Bracci, his mother Nila, and sister Paola) remodeled the house with four guest apartments. It's a lovely building in the midst of a beautiful and well-maintained garden. In the non-tourist season, the family spends time there.
There is a swimming pool slightly removed from the house. Garden surrounds the house and pool. Each apt. has its own sitting area. The upstairs apts. have private balconies that look out over the countryside. Our apt., Ginestra, was downstairs and looked out onto the garden and the olive trees. Ginestra has a very large private patio with picnic table. (A clothes-drying rack is available.)
Everything was in excellent condition and the apartment had been decorated with care. The family uses these apartments in the off-season, and has furnished them as their own home. There is a TV in the living room, but only one couch for sitting. Everything was spotless.
The bed was large and very comfortable. There were small lamps on tables on each side of the bed. The bathroom was excellent, with fluffy white towels. The shower was Italian -- no floor pan to catch the water, just a drain in the floor. They called this the handicap shower. From the patio into the apartment and the living room, bedroom, and bathroom were wheelchair-accessible. There is a step, however, to get into the kitchen.
The kitchen was wonderful. The cookware and dishes were first-class quality and plentiful. The family uses these apartments themselves, so I believe that influences what is available to the guests, too. The lovely coffemaker is a stainless-steel espreso pot. Guests who like to cook would love this kitchen!
Problems or Bonuses
Another Slow Traveler had recommended this place to us and she raved about it. It lived up to her praises. I was a little disappointed that there was no view of the countryside from our apartment. For a sweeping view, I would recommend the upstairs apartments. A nice surprise was finding a delicious solid loaf of whole wheat bread with a soft crust at the COOP -- "Pan di Montaione" it says on the wrapper.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Filippo and his family are so friendly and honest and accommodating. It was such a pleasure to deal with them. Filippo speaks English. He and his family live in Florence, but they come to Pie di Costa on Saturday to check in the new guests for the week, and also during the week to do gardening and maintenance. They are unbelievably helpful and pleasant.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I highly recommend this place with no reservations at all! It was very reasonably priced and we were comfortable and happy there.
Things to do in this area
We explored the old hilltown and the lower new town of Certaldo, which is where Diva/Judy lives. It's about 45 minutes to Siena, 20 minutes to San Gimignano, and Volterra is farther on. We explored the medieval and renaissance sections of Colle Val d'Elsa and ate dinner there at Arnolfo's restaurant (only go here if you like to spend lots of money and lots of hours over plate after plate of tiny morsels of food -- we found it expensive and tedious).
Filippo gives you a detailed map of the Montaione area, and a list of gelatarias and restaurants. We found it pleasant to eat at home a couple of evenings. One night we had a nice dinner in the outdoor tented area at Osteria Bottega di Lornana in the tiny town of Lornana a few miles north of Siena.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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