Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 935: Domani, Il Poeta
apartment in hamlet near Umbertide, Umbria
May 15-22, 2004, 1 week
Borgo Il Poeta is located in Montecastelli, a small town near the Umbria-Tuscany border. It is a private hamlet (borgo) located on a hillside with breathtaking views of the Umbrian landscape. Our villa (Tettoia) was the largest of the 7 residences within the borgo and shared common outdoor areas with the others. There was complete privacy from the town and deliciously quiet outdoor areas for sitting, reading, or talking with other guests.
The nearest "full service" grocery shopping was at the Coop (a chain of grocery stores located throughout Italy) in Umbertide, about 15 minutes away. We visited it once at the beginning of the week to buy most of what we would need for breakfasts and snacks. There was a restaurant in Montecastelli nearby and others in Montone (20 minutes) and Umbertide. A small "supermarketa" was 5 minutes away and sold a few last minute items. The owners provided wine, vinegars, olive oil, sauces and jams for purchase at the villa and the housekeeper brought fresh bread each morning for a small fee.
Dating from the 1500's when it was first a military tower, the borgo had fallen into ruins before Louise and Eugenio Grippa restored it over a 5 year period, completing it in 1996. Now the 7 residences are rented separately or together for a large group and can accommodate from 2 to 8 people in each. It is magnificently restored with high quality materials and much personal input from the owners.
You can view the property directly: Borgo Il Poeta.
The outside areas have tables and chairs for al fresco dining, swinging chairs, and lounge chairs for relaxing. There is a tennis court, large swimming pool, fountain, and bocce ball court. There are grills for cooking and an outdoor wood burning pizza oven for special occasions. The landscaping is amazing, with lots of rosemary and lavender, as well as many other carefully chosen plants. The gardner attends to the grounds daily and the walkways and gardens are immaculately kept. The outdoor areas are common areas but we were the only renters during our week in May so really had the entire borgo to ourselves.
The villa is furnished beautifully, with outdoor seating on the back lanai or at the round dining room table for 10. A grand piano in the foyer greets the new arrival and seating in the living room is very comfortable. The hallways are adorned with fresh flowers and pottery from nearby Deruta. The 3 person cleaning staff comes daily and changes linens midweek so the villa is always perfectly kept.
The beds ranged from twin beds to king sized beds and were very comfortable. The Italian tiled bathrooms were an outstanding feature. Each of the 4 bathrooms had fluffy towels for bathing and pool as well as robes embroidered with "Borgo Il Poeta." Soap, shampoo and other amenities are also provided in each bathroom as well as hairdryers.
The kitchen had all the necessary items for making a quick breakfast or a complete evening meal but it is not a gourmet kitchen. Because we were seeing the sights most of the day, we didn't try to cook at night. We did find a nearby location for purchase of the famous Umbrian "porcetta" to carry home and another night we brought home fresh lasagne that only needed warming in the oven. I needed basil to make bruscetta and one of the staff drove back with a basil plant for me that afternoon.
Problems or Bonuses
The biggest surprise was the beauty out of every window of the villa. I didn't realize that Umbria is as beautiful as Tuscany where we had stayed 4 years before. It doesn't get the "press" and is often overlooked.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Domani was our rental agency and Kathy Haase was wonderful to work with. The villa was much better than the pictures and description given on the website. Borgo Il Poeta now has its own website with more recent pictures. A brochure is available for potential renters and a complete booklet written by the owners in perfect English is given to all renters before arrival. This is helpful in locating grocery stores, estimating distances to nearby towns and for suggestions for restaurants. The owners are very helpful and they came by the villa to make sure we had everything that we needed on more than one occasion.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I have already recommended this villa to good friends and we would return again. Our group, college sorority sisters with spouses and partners (to carry the luggage!), has traveled together many places. We found this villa completely satisfied our discriminating and diverse tastes in accommodations and it will be hard to top. For a villa vacation, I would recommend the Borgo without qualification.
Things to do in this area
From the villa, we drove to Gubbio, Assisi, Spello, Siena, Montalcino, the Castello Banfi winery, Lake Trasimeno, Montone, Deruta and Cortona. We combined two towns on some days and took one day off to relax around the pool. My recommendations for restaurants are all listed in the Borgo Il Poeta booklet which is sent to renters.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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