Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 783: Grifoglia, Apartment
apartments on a farm near Barga north of Lucca, Tuscany North
October 06 - October 12, 2003, One week
Separate apartment in renovated historic farmhouse; owners' residence adjacent. Beautiful mountainous setting with rushing river nearby, chestnut trees, colossal garden. Very private and quiet with amazing views of the mountains and surrounding vistas. Secluded getaway and great "home base".
A brief drive into the beautiful little town of Barga (about 5 miles away) for groceries,great cafes,bakery & sweets, local cuisine and produce. A scenic walk, another option, 2.5 miles to Coreglia Antelminelli, the next closest town to Grifoglia.
On site: 3 historical stone buildings,all completely renovated yet still retaining the farmhouse feeling of the region. One: separate dwelling 'apartment' stone farmhouse with fabulous upstairs bedroom loft. Two other rooms with baths within the owners' residence. All three are very nicely appointed. Tiny chapel on property, also previously used by the mountain residents of the area.
Lovely lounging areas adjacent to both dwellings: nice tables and chairs. Perfect for sitting outside with a glass of wine and taking in the breathtaking mountian views. Colossal garden lovingly maintained by our hosts. Fresh vegetables provided each day -- hand picked!!! Shared yet spacious brand-new pool with comfy chaise-lounges and the resident kitty-cats looking on.
Furnishings were tasteful, comfortable and well-maintained. Thoughtfully put together and appropriate for the setting: easy and relaxed. Living room/dining room featuted a roomy couch and chairs at dining room table. Neat and tidy and sparkling clean.
The big bed was ultra comfortable -- plenty of fluffy pillows and snuggly blankets and comforter.Beautiful custom windows and French doors to open up to take in the view and fresh air. Bathrooms fine with plenty of towels and hairdryer provided.
Kitchen was just perfect: hostess even kind enough to provide plenty of extra local treats to make our stay even more inviting. All pots, pans, glassware, silverware, plates, etc, provided. They were all of fine quality. We cooked several meals there quite happily!!!
Problems or Bonuses
Bonuses too numerous to list here. The most important were the owners themselves: Kerry and Pietro Messina. From the moment we arrived they made us feel immediately welcome and well-cared for yet gave us all the privacy we needed. Kerry is American and her husband is Italian and they were better than any concierge one could have hired. They were valuable not only for directions and travel advice but were always willing to help with making reservations for us -- i.e.being our translators at a moments' notice. (For museums in Florence or other details within our intinerary.) Pietro was always there with a basket of fresh bounty from his vegetable garden -- and tales about the history of the amazing surrounding region.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with Kerry Bell-Messina, the owner and host of the site. She speaks English and Italian and was just overwhelmingly gracious from day one.
The place was more than accurately presented within the website and the reality was better than expected.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We highly recommend this place to other travelers. As first time visitors to Italy this was the perfect place to stay: off the beaten path and more access to the local flavor. The fact that it is a bit of a trek from the "city" (like Lucca or Florence) makes it well worth the effort more those seeking a genuine retreat.
It was great feeling, knowing that each day, after hours of busy sightseeing, that we had our calm and beautiful house to come home to.
Things to do in this area
Within Barga: great churches, museums, Cafe Alpino -- great coffee and local Porcini Mushroom specialties. Biggest treat in town was seeing opera "La Traviata" (with only 2 days' notice!) at the beautiful & historic Opera House in Barga.
Both medieval towns of Coreglia Antelminelli and Barga have amazing stone buildings, castle-like structures, tiny winding cobblestone streets.
Lucca, the walled city, about 45 minutes away: renting bikes is the way to go. park your rental car outside & rent a bike for about $10US all day: see the museums, gardens & shopping all at a more relaxed pace.
Florence -- 1.5 hours away (approx) get rid of your rental car and walk the city! Take the time to hike up to the top of the Duomo: 360 view of the city. Don't miss the open air market (near the Mercado) for bargains: leather goods, linen shirts, wool scarves, etc.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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