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Review 896: Il Casale, Villa Serena

www.ilcasale.com

Recommended
Review by lkmaloney from PA

3bed/3bath villa near Cortona, Tuscany East


When

May 22 - 29, 2004, 1 week

Location

Villa Serena is located on a country road on the side of a hill just 1 km outside of Cortona. After you drive through the gate you follow a straight driveway for several hundred yards along a stone wall with roses growing out of it. Then it opens up with the villa on one side and a little circular patio with table and chairs on the other side that looks out over the whole Val D' Chiana.

One of our party mumbled "enchanted April." It was aptly named - the house and grounds were so serene. There was a a long path of steps leading down to the swimming pool on a terrace below the house. The pool looked like it had been placed there by landscape designer- there were beautiful views from this area also. My husband got out of the car and after a couple of minutes he said "I can't believe this is ours for a week." The pictures on the many websites that offer Villa Serena can't really convey how beautiful and ethereal it is.

Nearby Amenities

Different members of our party walked to Cortona at various times during the week at the villa. To or from the beginning of Via Nazionale (the main street that leads directly to the two connected piazzas in Cortona) it was about a 15-20 minute walk. It was uphill at times on the trip to town, but not a difficult walk. Once at the Via Nazionale, there were many bars or cafes to choose from for morning cafe lattes & cornettas. Three of us went every morning for our cafe lattes, cappuchinos, and pastries trying differnet places all of them with wonderful coffee & cornettas. There are small market shops in Cortona where you can pick up deli stuff and all kinds of groceries. There is a produce shop right on the Piazza Della Repubblica with vegetables displayed in baskets outside the shop. They were so gorgeous tourists passing by would stop to photograph them. There was a large Coop (like an American supermarket) in Camucia about a 10 minute drive from the villa.

Cortona has quite a selection of good restaurants to choose from - among the ones we tried: La Casina dei Tigli, Ristorante Tempero, Caffe La Saletta(twice), Preludio, La Logiatta, and Dardano(twice).

The House/Apartment

Villa Serena is a 19th century house that has been described as looking more French than Tuscan. It has four french doors in the front facade and long windows in the bedrooms so that there is a lot of light inside. The walls are thick like most Tuscan villas which keeps the inside very cool. It is a warm and attractive house inside with comfortable informal furniture in good condition. There is a pleasant dining room area off the living room that opens into a very usable kitchen with everything you need to cook a meal there - which we did. All three of the upstairs bedrooms are front facing with windows that look out over the whole valley. When we sat up in bed in the morning, we were greeted by a beautiful and panoramic view of the Val D Chiana. The bathrooms are modern, large and clean.

There are two other annexes on the grounds of Villa Serena, each designed to accomodate two people. They are situated on the property to allow privacy for eveyone, and we never saw the people in one of the annexes at all. The villa itself is charming and a wonderful home for the week.

Garden

The pool is shared with the other two annexes, but while we were there it was too cool to swim. The villa had a lovely area to sit outside in, and each of the annexes did also.

Problems or Bonuses

The villa and grounds were so beautiful that it surpassed our hopes, and we all lamented leaving it.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

The owner, Vittorio and his daughter Alessandra answered all email enquiries that we sent prior to the trip very promptly. They are located at Il Casale about 10 minutes out of Cortona toward Arezzo. Alessandra was waiting for us at Il Casale when we drove in, and her father arrived a few minutes later to show us the way to Villa Serena. They both spoke English well enough to communicate and were friendly and helpful.

We paid 2280 E for the last week of May 2004, and we felt it was well spent.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

We would exuberantly recommend Villa Serena to others. We felt that we had stolen a little piece of paradise by staying there.

Things to do in this area

Cortona is such a wonderful town that you can wile away a few days just exploring and enjoying it. The Diocesan museum, the Etruscan museum, and numerous churches are located here. The views everywhere are so breathtaking, and there are many shops to peruse.

We had wonderful meals in Cortona - La Saletta, which is an enoteca with a restaurant, has delicious pizzas and crepes. Dardano has a lamb dish that brought us back for a second time( when I told the cook on the way out that the lamb was wonderful, he told me that it was from his farm). La Loggetta had a special at lunch called ravioli nudi (sp?) that was heavenly.

While in Cortona I met my first Slow Traveler, Alessandra Fedirici who runs two shops in Cortona. She was so outgoing and friendly, and her shop Il Girasole on the Piazza Signorelli was full of beautiful jewwelry and other temptations that I couldn't resist.

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

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