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Review 79: Parker Villas, Villa Allegro

www.parkervillas.com

Not Recommended
Review by Mary from AR

apartment on farm, Abruzzo


When

October 2000, 2 weeks

Review

At the end of October 2000, we spent two weeks at Villa Allegro near Chieti in the Abruzzo region of Italy. We made all our arrangements through The Parker Company (TPC). This was our fifth trip to Italy and our second time in a vacation rental. On our last trip we rented an apartment in Santa Maria in Chianti from TPC. We loved that apartment and its location (see my review of it – Review 9), but we were not as happy with this apartment and region. When we made the booking, we had wanted to stay in Umbria but there was nothing available for the two weeks we wanted, so we decided to try the Abruzzo region. After our last trip of two weeks in Tuscany we felt we had really seen it and did not want to go back there. We were looking for something as good as Santa Maria in Chianti, but in another region. TPC did not talk to us about our choice of this region. We chose it because we had not been there and because the place was available for the time we wanted.

We arrived in the Chieti area and followed our directions from TPC. We were looking for Villa Allegro, but we hadn't noticed the smaller print in our directions that "Il Quadrifoglio". We stopped several times to ask directions, but no one spoke English. Finally a little boy told us it was on the next road. We followed his directions and again the only sign was "Il Quadrifoglio Azienda Agrituristica". A woman was outside and we asked her if she knew of Villa Allegro and she said, "you are here!" Surprise! She turned out to be Anna - the owner, manager and everything else. We parked the car (limited parking area) and she took us to our reserved two bedroom, two bathroom apartment.

A quick tour of the apartment showed us one bedroom with twin beds (no sheets or blankets) one bedroom with two beds pushed together and made as one (with sheets and a blanket) and also one single bed (made up with linens). Two bathrooms; one had three bath towels and two hand towels, the other had none. They were nice size bathrooms with stall showers that were on the small size but always had plenty of hot water. There was also a half bath at the end of the hall between the two bedrooms.

We went up five steps (all floors were stone) into the front hall, which led into the living room. It was furnished with a large dining room table and folding chairs, there was a fireplace in the corner (it cost extra to buy wood to use it) and a TV hanging on the wall, in a corner. Anna’s husband watched French TV and after a day or two we asked if we could watch TV in English for one hour 5pm to 6pm so we could get the news (the TV in our apartment and the TV in the owners apartment were both on the same satellite system and the owner controlled which channel could be seen). That worked for a day or two and finally he went on a trip so we had English TV all day everyday, while he was away.

The dining room was a nice size (too large for two people) and it had a large dining room table with folding chairs, a round table with folding chairs and a "futon" type sofa against a wall (you could not see the TV from it). There was a nice patio off of the dining room and living room. The view was wonderful!

The kitchen was long and narrow with a full stove, full size refrigerator, double sink, plenty of dishes and there were all sorts of spices, etc., on the shelves. In one corner there was a china cabinet with extra glasses; the rest of it was locked. There was an area covered with a velvet curtain, which contained many cooking items. There was a regular electric coffee maker, a small table with a phone on it and a lot of pots and pans and a nice work area. Anna showed me where all of the cleaning supplies were kept.

The entrance way was furnished with some tables with post cards and other advertisements for the place, plus maps. We were tired and the place was cold so we told Anna it was fine but we would require some heat. She seemed a bit upset about that and said it would cost us extra, as heat was very expensive. We said fine. So, she turned on heat in one of the bedrooms and both bathrooms. We later turned it on in both bedrooms and the living room, as it was really cold!!

So, we had arrived. We unpacked and went into the "Theater Center" to grocery shop. It was on the way to Chieti and fairly convenient. We had a telephone in our kitchen but Anna told us not to answer it; if it was for us she would buzz us. Strange, but O.K. That night the phone rang several times until about ten pm. Later, as I was trying to sleep I heard quite a bit of noise from the apartment above us. It wasn't until the next day that I figured out she ran a bed and breakfast upstairs and the noises we heard on and off all night were people arriving, moving furniture, dropping suitcases, etc. We were SURPRISED!! NO ONE had told us about this arrangement. Believe me, we would NOT have rented it had we known how much noise we would have each night!

But we made the best of the situation. Anna and her husband took us to an olive pressing plant to see how olive oil is made and it was very interesting. We tried to take walks around our area but it was up and down steep hills and the only fairly level section had homes with large (barking when they saw us) dogs. We only tried that twice! We found some beautiful scenery, interesting little towns, a few really beautiful Churches. Mostly we ate a bite of breakfast each day and headed out, as there was nothing to make you want to stay put. We made it to Frankaville, on the Adriatic Sea and ate a wonderful (actually we went twice) afternoon meal. The owner’s son spoke English which, of course, we greatly appreciated. The food was wonderful and we do, both, recommend that restaurant!!

We had an exciting day when we drove over the mountains on our way to the Pescara area. It was scary but beautiful. We stopped for coffee at a ski resort at the top of the mountain. I was very glad when we got back down!!

In conclusion, the directions to the farm were not clear, the place was too large for two people (we had originally planned to have another person with us, but they cancelled), the furniture was not comfortable, the place was very cold, the telephone situation was not good, the noise from the apartment above was unpleasant, and the area was not that interesting. In my opinion there was no comparison between the Abruzzo and Tuscany. Tuscany was a much better area. In the Abruzzo, none of the towns had much to offer. There were a few good eating-places and some beautiful small churches, but almost no one spoke English. My complaint of TPC is that we were not told of the B&B upstairs. We would not have rented had we known. We were not told that there was nothing nearby. There was no place to walk to and not many places to drive to. I must admit it was restful (most of the time) if not boring! A few days after we arrived we moved two plastic barrel shaped chairs into the living room. It was the only comfortable seat in the house!

On the next Saturday, a week after our arrival, I asked Anna if we might get clean sheets and towels. She was very nice and brought them right down. We were leaving so she asked if I wanted her to change the beds. I said yes. On our return we each had one nice, clean, large bath towel, hand towel and washcloth. In Tuscany I was told that since we rented by the week we would get the apartment cleaned each Saturday, but this was not the practice here. We were never rude to Anna and we never complained about nearly freezing to death. When we left I did suggest to her that she get some sort of rugs for upstairs. I honestly think she had no idea of the noise factor for the downstairs tenants! Oh, I do not want to forget to tell you that they also had chickens and a couple of roosters penned up just off out patio. I swear to you, I dreamed about stewing that rooster!!

We DID enjoy Italy and our restful trip but not particularly where we stayed. I feel that TPC should recommend this place for a group of younger people who want a place to have a party! Supposedly Anna gives cooking lessons or even cooks for you but she never mentioned it to us, which is probably just as well! We have now covered most of Italy and will probably not go there next year. In fact, if we go back, it will be to Tuscany!

Our car rental arrangements were good and it was very easy to get from the car rental place to the GRA (the ring road around Rome) and equally as easy to return the car. They were very efficient and I would recommend them! (AutoEurope)

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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