Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 956: Welcome Service, Bianca and Rosa
Two aparments on a farm near Todi, Umbria
June 5 - 19, 2004, 2 weeks
This house is about 10-15 minutes from Todi. It is definitely in the country. 5 minutes from the closest tiny village, Cecanibbi, it is about 2 km up a dirt drive. And it is up. The house is pretty high up the side of a ridge, remote enough that we rarely heard any noise but the sounds of the birds chattering. Sometimes loudly. Beautiful view out over the valley below, we could see for miles to the towns in the valley, and to the next ridge to the east of Todi. We took walks through the olive groves around us; there are several trails/dirt roads to walk on through the country. We never ran across another house in the hills above us, although we could see some up on the ridge. We have gorgeous pictures of the early sunrise from our bedroom window across the valley. From the pool area there is a great view of Todi -- you can't see it from the house.
You must drive to any amenities. The closest towns, Cecanibbi and Pian di San Martino do not have shops. There is a grocery store, a coffee bar and a cheese and salami shop in Pian di Porto, which is a quick 8-10 minute drive. Easy parking there, but it is not a partcularily scenic shopping district. Ponte Rio is about the same distance and ease of access, and it has a gas station, a couple of Pizzerias and a coffee bar with internet (slow), but it also is not a very scenic town. The shopping (both food and otherwise) was much nicer in Todi, it is a little more of an outing to go in to Todi. It is a 15 minute drive, then a quick ride up an incline into town. Nice fruit and vegetable shops, butchers, specialty food stores, bars, restaurants etc.
I don't know the age of the house -- I would guess 1700's or so. I would also guess that there has been a relatively recent remodel. It is a long stone house, built into the side of the hill in such a way that you enter through the top floor at ground level, but then go downstairs for the other floor, which is ground level on the other side of the house as the ground level slopes away that direction. There are 3 units, we rented the 2 that are available for renting, the third one is used as a weekend home for the owner's brother, who lives an hour away in Perugia. We saw very little of Francesco; he was friendly and unobtrusive. I would be a little apprehensive about renting only one of the 2 units as the pool and outside areas are shared.
It is in good repair, although not perfect; I have rarely seen a house of this age that doesn't have a little peeling paint etc. somewhere, and this was no exception. It is nice and light and airy when the shutters and doors are thrown open, closes up pretty tight at night.
There are a several outside sitting areas. There is a long sort of skinny stretch of grass (and narrow stone patio) all along the long downhill side of the house where we spent a lot of time. Both kitchens and both living rooms open out on to this area. We were usually in or near the kitchen when we were awake (we cooked at the house most evenings), and it was easy to socialize through the open doors between people inside and people sitting outside. There is also a nice flat lawn up at the top (front) of the house which was shaded in the morning and we sat up there and read on occasion. And there is a pergola at one end of the house where we often ate dinner.
The pool is about 30 paces down the driveway and across a mowed green area. There is a shaded sitting area at one end of the pool with a really great view of Todi on the hill acrooss the way, looking like a fairy tale. There are lounge chairs there, and it is a great place for reading and gazing. The pool itself is OK. It's not that big, and about a meter deep all the way across -- we played in it when it was hot and it served it's purpose, but I've seen better pools. It is lined with a plastic lining, and it seemed to be pretty much up to us to skim insects and seed pods out of it each day, which I did while practicing for a possible future career as a pool boy.
The furniture was in pretty good shape, although a bit of a potpourri of bits and pieces. There were plenty of chair and sofa seating in each living room, which we rarely used, being outside or cooking more often. There were TV's which we did not turn on. The common areas were spacious, it was clean, although not perfect, when we arrived.
The beds were in good shape and we found ours to be quite comfortable, and it appeared that everyone else did as well. The bedrooms were good sized, armoires in almost all of them (one had a closet outside the bedroom door), nice windows and views in all but one. The bedroom in Rosa which is a single, is off of the kithcen in that house, and it has an outside french door, but it opens on to the pergola where we dined. This room is one of only 2 with ensuite bathroom, and it worked fine for us because we didn't use the kitchen that it is attached to, so it was more private because of that, but it was a little harder to throw open the doors/windows to that room because it is on the Pergola.
The bathrooms worked out well, they are not all ensuite but they are scattered well for access. As far as showers go, not great water pressure, but plenty of hot water (although a little hard to control the heat). There are bedside lights on tables for everyone, but they are slightly useless, as they are low down and throw their light even lower.
The kitchen was surprisingly usable. A good variety of good sized pots and pans; not great quality pans but good enough and big enough and enough of them. Cheese graters, colanders, toasters, serving platters, salad bowls etc. Better equiped than I expected. A kitchen table in each kitchen where we ate breakfast, a wood burning grill in the kitchen, which we used, and a pizza oven outside which we talked about using, but didn't. Plenty of glasses, wine glasses, plates bowls, flatware etc also. Small, but usable fridge, fully functional dishwasher and clothes washer.
Problems or Bonuses
After a torrential downpour one day, a leak developed, which was dripping into the living room. It really did not inconveience us, but it was of great concern to the owner when we called her and told her about it. When we left they still hadn't decided whether it was a roof problem or a plumbing problem. It really was not a problem for us. The pool, as I mentioned was a little disappointing.
The setting and view were very nice, better than I expected.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The agency is run by Paola Berlenghini, who I believe represents mostly houses in the Todi area. She was professional and honest in my dealings with her, both before hand, by email booking the house and transferring funds, and also in a couple of conversations in Italy. Her English is very fluent.
We met the owner only when we arrived; she met us in Ponte Rio and we followed her up to the house. She showed us around, gave us keys and that was that. Her English is more rudimentary, but we got by. Her sister checked us out of the house when we left, and they were both nice and courteous and trusting. We paid 1,200 euros per unit, per week. 4,800 euros total for 2 weeks, both units. In June.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again and I would recommend it. Will I actually stay here again -- in all likelihood not, because we don't usually travel with this many people (8 of us) and there are so many places to go that I haven't already been. But I definitely will recommend it to close friends -- it was a great experience and a very nice house.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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