Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 941: La Bella Toscana, Villas Maretta, Itineris, Cimabue/Donatello
Villas near San Gimignano, Tuscany West
June 2004, 2 weeks
We stayed at 3 Villas recommended by La Bella Toscana, including Villa Maretta, Itineris, and Cimabue/Donatello (the last two are two apartments that, together, make up a whole house). You may see each on the agency's web site. Each was in the countryside between 5 and 15 kilometers from San Gimignano. Villa Maretta was quite isolated, with the nearest structures at least 400 meters away. The other two were also very quiet, but were part of small clusters of buildings.
Each was in the countryside, with a drive necessary for any shopping. Grocery and restaurants were 5 to 10 km drive.
All three properties were in wonderful shape -- Villa Maretta is actually almost spectacularly modernized, with very modern fixtures and even a jacuzzi tub.
All three houses had great views. Cimabue/Donatello's best feature was its patio/dining area outside and adjacent to the kitchen. It looks over the countryside to San Gimingano about 5 km away. We had some great sunset dinners there, with the sun setting behind the town's towers. Itineris had a very similar view, and the owners hosted a "Tuscan" dinner outside one evening that was also spectacular.
All three were in excellent shape with enough seating. All were clean.
Villa Maretta, in particular, was extraordinally well furnished with many comfortable sofas and very modern furnishings.
Itineris and Maretta were excellent. A couple of the beds in Cimabue/Donatello were in poorer shape, though still acceptable.
All three had good kitchen facilities, with Maretta again spectacularly good. It even had a dishwasher! Cimabue/Donatello did not have an oven, which limited some of the cooking options, but we were aware of this when we rented since it is disclosed on the agency's web site.
Problems or Bonuses
We had some confusion when checking into Maretta because the renters before us left it in remarkably bad condition (they left food caked on the bedroom floors -- I hope the owner did not give them their deposit back). The owner was not done with cleaning (she does it herself!) when we arrived. She did not speak any English, but called the agency and they helped us to work out that we could use a part of the villa while she finished cleaning. The agency was EXTREMELY helpful (and the owner did a great job -- by the time she was done everything was very, very clean).
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency was helpful throughout the process and helped us select properties that met our criteria. Their web site is extremely helpful, with comprehensive and accurate descriptions and excellent pictures. The pictures are not "doctored" and we felt we already knew the places when we arrived. If anything, the reality was even better than the pictures or descriptions.
The agency representatives spoke English and, as noted above, helped resolve issues with one of the villa owners who did not speak English.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I highly recommend both the three villas we rented and, especially, La Bella Toscana. We were completely satisfied with the entire process.
Things to do in this area
The location is convenient for day trips to Siena, Florence, Pisa and other locations around Tuscany. We found plenty to do in the nearby countryside and smaller towns. We would especially recommend San Gimignano, Volterra, and Colle di Val d'Elsa in the nearby area. We spent parts of 3 days in San Gimignano alone.
We would particularly recommend the Terraza restaurant at the Hotel La Cisterna in San Gimignano (on the central square). The Chef's recommended menu includes local pasta and meat dishes (try the Gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles and the wild boar, in particular) and an excellent selection of local wines.
The countryside in this area is dotted with vineyard's and we enjoyed several days visiting a selection. We enjoyed both the Chianti Classico and Chianti Colle Senesi selections, along with the Vernacia of San Gimignano (a wonderful white we had never heard of before).
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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