Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 793: TuscanHouse, Villia Ciupi
3bed/2bath villa near Siena, Tuscany Siena
May 17, 2003-May 24, 2003, 1 week
The villa is located in a hamlet outside of Siena. It is in a group of buildings where you could occasionally hear other people talking and milling about and doing yard work. It was actually comforting not to feel in the middle of nowhere, but in our own little village. The villa is right next to what we were told is a 1000-year-old church, which you can actually see while in the shower (one of the best views in the villa).
We took walks in the area and the scenery within walking distance was rolling hills of vineyards, olive trees, poppy fields, churches and cemeteries. We took some walks on dirt roads that apparently you could walk for miles from town to town. We only went for about a few miles but I look forward to walking further the next time we are there.
The villa itself was very peaceful and our senses were infused with song birds, buzzing bees, sunlight, breezes, sweet smells. We were able to carry out a large table from the downstairs out to the back and would eat al fresco occasionally. The backyard was a joy with a view of Sienna in the distance and olive and cherry trees (where we picked a basket of cherries).
We had the best of both worlds in that we had the benefit of living in a rural setting and then within 20 minutes we were in Sienna. It didn't take us long to get to San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and other charming hill towns. We would often spend the morning around the villa, have our midday riposo (nap) and shower and leave for some town or another to get there in the late afternoon when most of the tourist were leaving and then stay for dinner.
There is much to do in the area. For instance in one week we went to Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Pienza, Montepulciano and Florence. If we had more time I would've like to spend more time in Siena and we could have gone to Florence a few more days. You could also go east on a day trip to Cortona and some of the towns in that area. There are also several towns worth going to see in the south. And it would be possible to go west to Volterra and perhaps Pisa for a day trip or to the coast.
I'm not sure what you are most interested in but the region has everything art, religion, rural landscape, nightlife and the villa was so comfortable that we spent most of one day just hanging out.
There were no stores or restaurants within walking distance. We had a car and would pick up our food and supplies while we were out site-seeing. There are several large COOP stores in the area and though they are large, they have fresh produce and delicious local items.
Villa Ciupi is brick and we were told that it was as old as the church next to it. It's historical character has been maintained beautifully while it has been upgraded with modern conveniences. We kind of expected it to be decorated with "2nd house" hand me downs, but we found it to be lovingly and impeccably deocorated in a throughly Tuscan style.
There is no pool, but a nice sitting area out back with a pleasant view.
The furniture was very comfortable, clean, stylish and cozy. There is no dining room, as the main table was in the middle of the kitchen, which was perfect for us. There is a fireplace in the main living room, which we didn't use.
The beds were clean and comfortable and each bedroom had unique decorating touches. There was one bathroom upstairs for the 3 bedrooms, but the bath/shower/toilet area was separate from the sink/mirror area, which made it easier for all of us to get ready at the same time. There is another also a more utilitarian bathroom downstairs near the kitchen. There is a washer/dryer on the bottom level and there were specific directions for it that were helpful.
We enjoyed preparing meals in the kitchen. We didn't cook a lot of full meals, but the kitchen would have been suitable for it. It seems to have enough pots and pans and dishes, for the kind of cooking we did, but you may want to ask what they have if you plan to make bigger meals. There were some nice touches: some olive oil from the fields and some grappa left for us.
Problems or Bonuses
We were delighted to be greeted by the actual owners of the villa who were a sweet couple who, though they didn't speak a lot of English, took time to tell us about the villa and what to do in the area.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The Tuscanhouse representatives were very professional and clear in their communications. Their website is very helpful in choosing a villa because they include interior and exterior pictures and detailed descriptions and clearly listed rates. When I was trying to decide between a few different villas, they were also able to give me advice on which one would be best for us. I appreciated that they sent us a welcome packet with maps, phone cards and other helpful information before we left.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I strong recommend this particular rental. I hope to return there sometime soon. I also recommend Tuscanhouse for anybody looking for a villa in Italy. This was my first time renting any kind of property abroad and I was pleased with my experience.
Things to do in this area
Go to medieval town San Gimignano after 4 or 5 pm (when the tourist busses are leaving) but in time for the Grand Torre to still be open so you can go up and see a breathtaking view of the area. Go shopping in the small stores and especially pick up some bottles of the locally-made white wine, Vernaccia, for your villa and then go to Trattoria Chiribiri (on the piazzetta Madonna). This was the best meal we had in Italy (and that's saying alot!) Don't forget to try the pannacotta for dessert.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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