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Review 984: La Bella Toscana, Villa Maretta

www.labellatoscana.net

Recommended
Review by Lauren from PA

5bed/4bath house near Colle di Val d'Elsa, Tuscany West


When

June 26, 2004 to July 3, 2004, one week

Location

Villa Maretta is off a paved country road and gravel lane not far from the towns of Poggibonsi, Casole d'Elsa (2 km), Colle Val d'Elsa (15 km) and tourist destinations such as San Gimignano (20 km.) and Siena (40 km.) It took us one hour and 10 minutes to drive there from Florence. It sits on a hilltop overlooking farm crops, 2 other far off villas, and the lights of the village of Casole d'Elsa. The owners villa is directly behind the rental. It provided privacy and tranquility but also easy access to major roadways and village or town life. It was one of the most peaceful, beautiful areas I have ever stayed in.

Nearby Amenities

Although the agency said there was a 25 minute walk to the town of Casole d'Elsa on a country lane, we could not find the town. We walked on the path but there were a few too many choices of paths to take and the town seemed so much farther than the 20 minute walk. We simply got in the car and drove 5 minutes up a windy mountain road for breakfast or coffee. A fruit market, meat market, cafe and tobacchi shop were in Casole d'Elsa. For a modern grocery store, post office and more modern resources, Colle Val Elsa was only 10 minutes away by car. You definitely would want a car to see the beauty of Tuscany.

The House/Apartment

The house was absolutely beautiful. It was sparkling clean in every nook and crannie. Sealed linen sets were on each bed that also had padded mattress covers. It was over 3500 sq. feet large, without the additional apartment by the pool. The kitchen was well equipped; there was nothing we couldn't find. There were characteristic ceiling beams and arches that indicated that long ago the building may have been a stable. Restoration to this villa was done to the highest level. Solid screens, shutters and plenty of lounging furniture. The bathrooms were very big, for Italia, and one had a heart shaped jacuzzi! Arched doors lead out to balconies or patios with potted flowers everywhere! Timed outside lights never allowed you to come home late at night without lighting.

Garden

Outside was very well maintained by the owners. There was an herb garden that the owners invited us to use and a ivy covered loggia that sat 10 for eating. The pool was extremely huge and the owner was seen vacuuming it late at night. There were plenty of umbrellas and chairs and even an outside shower. The pool was a nice, close distance to the house so parents could watch children from the loggia.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

Furnishing were abundant and in excellent condition. Everything was clean and orderly.

Bedrooms/Bathrooms

There were 4 bedrooms in the main house with 2 of the rooms having triple twins and the other 2 having queen beds. The additional apartment also had a bedroom but we didn't use it so I am not sure what the bedrooms were like there. The beds were comfortable and there was a dresser and armoire in each bedroom. There were also nightstands and bedside lamps.

Kitchen

We hired a chef for an evening and she commented that the kitchen was very easy to cook in and that there wasn't anything that she couldn't find. During the week we made lunches there and found it just like home without the microwave! It did have a dishwasher and all the appliances (washing machine included) had top brand names like Bosch. There is also an american coffee maker although we didn't use it and chose to visit a different village each morning instead.

Problems or Bonuses

The only negative was minor. Our bedroom with the best view, facing over the pool and mountains, seemed to get no air at night. It was very warm and sticky. A fan would have been just enough to cirulate the air. The other bedrooms seemed to have better air circulation and the kids were fine sleeping in light pj's. Oscillating fans in the bedrooms would be an added plus.

Best of all: The owners were the sweetest and kindest people. They were very respectful of our privacy but we often sought them out. The speak practically no English, but through hand gestures and my husband's few Italian words we were able to get directions to restaurants and learn about their chicken coops and vegetable gardens. Maretta brought us fresh eggs and zucchini and my husband had a glass of wine with Stefano while he tended his pole beans. My kids played with their two puppies daily. Perhaps the highlight of our 3 week trip was feeling like Villa Maretta was really our home in Tuscany.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

Teresa was our contact at La Bella Toscana and was very helpful and easy to work with. She arranged our cook and answered continous questions over a 5 month period. Everything was exactly as decribed and a welcome packet with maps and brochures were on the villa table when we arrived. For the size of the villa, the beauty of the surroundings, the pristineness of the pool we felt the 3600 Euros was worth it for a week in the month of June. If more than one family shared the accomodation, then it would be a steal!

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

Yes, and without any hesitation if the people wanted a quality home base for exploring central Tuscany.

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

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