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Review 85: Castello di Montegufoni, La Grotta


Review by Joyce from FL

apartments in a castle, Tuscany Chianti


May 2001, 1 week


This wonderful place has already been well reviewed by Liz from Vancouver; in fact, it was her review that sealed the deal for us! However, since we stayed in different apartments, I thought I could provide a little additional information from our stay (plus Pauline insisted that I write a review). My husband, myself and another couple spent a week here in May 2001.

To begin with, the Castello di Montegufoni is an estate about 20 km SW of Florence, about 1 km from the town of Bacciano, and 7 km from Montespertoli. It is on a very good road, and in fact, the bus to Florence stops in front of the castle grounds. While it would be possible to stay there without a car, I think it would be quite inconvenient. A car is really necessary to get to groceries, restaurants, etc. While Bacciano is very near, the road is quite hilly and curvy and not safe for walking. There is a very nice restaurant in Bacciano, De Paolo's, which was quite popular with guests at the castle. Some of them ate there every night! There is also a small grocery there for deli meats, cheeses and essentials.

We stayed in the La Grotta apartment, an enormous 2 bedroom, 2 bath, living-dining room, with a large foyer that accommodated the small kitchenette. One bathroom was ensuite; the other was at the end of the foyer. Both had showers. Guests are provided with one large and one hand towel each for the week, and if you need more, you pay extra. Both bedrooms had very comfortable, firm king-size beds. The bedrooms were separated by the living room for privacy, making this a good apartment for two couples. Gorgeous frescoes were everywhere, on every ceiling! The anteroom to our bedroom even had frescoes covering the walls, but unfortunately was lit by only a single, low-wattage bulb in a corner of the ceiling. The living room had up lighting around the ceiling, highlighting the glorious frescoes. No need to go to a museum when you stay here! It was just breathtaking. We had spectacular views of the Tuscan hills out our large bedroom windows, and from the balcony off French doors in the living room. Our bedroom also opened onto the formal gardens and terrace.

Our kitchenette was merely adequate, just a sink and a 2-burner stove, with a bar-sized refrigerator. It would have been difficult and lengthy to prepare a full meal, but we planned to eat our main meals out anyway, so this wasn't a problem. However, we saw several other apartments there, and some of them had very nice kitchen areas. But I wouldn't have traded our place for anything! Our bath was part of the original chapel, and had sculpted gold images of chalices, crown of thorns, etc. on the ceiling, plus old religious frescoes on one wall. Simply incredible!

The cost for one week was L1,815,000 plus L100,000 for cleaning, for the four of us, which we thought was extremely reasonable (a total of around $950). It can be found on the rentvillas.com website (they represent Cuendet), but we rented directly through the owners. We did it through email, and had no problems. Unfortunately, their web site is in Italian, but the pictures give an excellent overview of the place, as well as a picture and description of each apartment.

There is a small snack bar at the castle, which is open from about 14:00 to 20:00 each day. There, you can buy wine, sodas, beer, juice, frozen desserts, and such. They also have sandwiches and pizza, but there is only one type of sandwich each day (very limited menu!), and you must order your pizza the night before. Still, it was nice to have something like that on the grounds.

The castle produces it's own very fine wines, with a bottle of Chianti costing L8,000 (about $4). There are also several wineries within 2-3 minutes of the castle. One, the Fattoria Le Calvane, is a beautiful estate with a cozy wine-tasting room and a very friendly owner. We spent a very fun afternoon there, and bought several bottles of wine!

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the castle prepares a Tuscan-style dinner if at least 15 people sign up for it. We went to the Wednesday-night Tuscan buffet, L40,000 a person (about $20), and would highly recommend it. They set a long table with antipastos, meat and vegetable dishes, salads, pastas, all wonderful, followed by dessert and coffee.

We had originally thought of renting a farmhouse, or single villa, but we're so glad we decided on the castle. Part of the experience was meeting people from all over the world, sharing the day's stories out on the terrace over a glass of wine, exchanging tips and information. I highly recommend the Castello di Montegufoni, and dream of the day we can return.

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

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