Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 814: Owner, Casale Sonnino
5bed/3bath villa near Frascati, Lazio
July 2003, One week
The Casale Sonnino is a truly splendid, authentic villa, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, in the Alban Hills but convenient to Monte Porzio and a host of other charming villages in the area. The location was magnificent. But for the highway down the hill, it was the essence of quietude. There were no nearby residences to disturb the peace of the arbor in the garden. The Alban Hills ooze history. Cicero, the wisest of the Romans, spent his leisure there and the delights of the region even today confirm his judgment. We were three generations. The teenagers loved it as much as their elders.
The railroad station to Rome, a series of splendid restaurants, and well-stocked grocery stores were only a few minutes away by car.
The house is, in a word, grand and unafflicted by modernization. The public rooms on the ground floor are impressive, the kitchen -- which was open to our curiosity and abuzz with the labors of two cooks -- typical, one would suppose, of traditional such kitchens, and the bedrooms spacious, and each with a convenient bath. And most wonderfully, the house is built over a vast cave in which the splendid olive oil of the farm is stored.
The outside sitting area, prettily sited next to the vineyard under a trellis and trees, was a refuge, quite private and secluded. No pool.
All the furnishings were, though delightfully period and authentic, in good shape. The formal dining area would be more than adequate for a sizable group. The place in general was spotless.
Beds were indeed comfortable, and the bedrdooms boasted large windows with splendid views. Each had a bath accessible.
Though we did not use the kitchen intensely ourselves; the cook staff did, with remarkable results and it seemed more than adequate for any culinary adventure. The meals which we took at the Casale Sonnino were graced by the farm's own high quality olive oil and even a few drops of its precious and stunningly ancient store of balsamic vinegar.
Problems or Bonuses
No surprises on the negative side -- but positively, the region of the Alban Hills turned out to be remarkably more charming and seductive than we had supposed. We had intended to spend out time going in and out of Rome and, although Rome was close enough for easy access, we were lured into the region around Monte Porzio a good deal, and to our great satisfaction.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We did not deal through an agency, but rather directly with the owners of Casale Sonnino. Their family has held the farm and the villa for geneations; they revere it, as they should, and are marvelous as sources of information about the house, the grounds, the region and Rome itself. Their English is impeccable, and their charm, wisdom and pacience as notable as their enthusiasim for all things Roman. This, in itself, was an important plus; we experienced the house and the groves through the eyes of the very family which had nurtured them for generations.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We are indeed tempted to return.
Things to do in this area
All of Rome, the Alban Hill towns, some superb restaurants, with Naples and Pompei a feasible side trip for a day. What more could one wish for?
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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