Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Can you help me find a small, not so expensive, independent house in Tuscany?
David Ronis (with comments from Pauline Kenny - in italic)
All the agencies will tell you that it is difficult to find small, independent houses to rent in Tuscany. David has proved them wrong. In the spring of 2001, he set out to find a nice, independent and not expensive house to rent for his group of three. He did a lot of work searching out these listings, and has put together his notes for the rest of us. Why is it so hard to find small houses? Gaynor Powell from La Bella Toscana explains it this way:
Gaynor goes on to explain that most small houses in Tuscany are converted from the original barns or other outbuildings.
I recently did a lot of research looking for suitable rentals for my party of 3 people. We plan to spend two weeks in Tuscany in the summer of 2001 - one week in the Chianti area and one near Lucca.
Our requirements: We wanted a 2-bedroom place that was a freestanding building in an isolated location. We didn't want to have other vacationers and/or owners in close proximity, but didn't care whether or not we had a pool. We wanted a place that had nice views of the countryside and was under $2000 per week. So in view of that, I've listed the results of my research here with appropriate comments.
Note: We weren't looking at apartments at all. So if you're considering an apartment, this research won't do you much good. Hopefully it will help if you want a place that's isolated.
Italian Vacation Villas
Martin Wenick, who runs Italian Vacation Villas, represents Tuscan Enterprises properties in the US (to view listings go to the Tuscan Enterprises web site).
Pauline's note: Rental prices are the same if you book through Martin or through the Italian agency, so you are best to book with Martin who has seen most of the places and can give you some good advice.
La Bella Toscana
Pauline's note: I contacted Gaynor Powell who runs La Bella Toscana
in Italy and asked her for a list of her places that she considered "special".
She included this house in her list. This is what she says about it: "This
is a small house in the countryside. Il Terrazzo was recently made into a
house from a small barn next to the main farmhouse where the owner lives.
... just about any small house that you find in the countryside here
has evolved in the same way."
Pauline's notes: Radicondoli is an interesting area, but as David says, is a little remote. The small towns are very spread out here and the roads are narrow and winding. It is about 20 minutes of winding road from Sovicille, which is not a remote area.
The Parker Company
Note: The Parker Company offers various comments along the right side of each property web page. Particularly telling are the comments listed under "minuses". (They also list "pluses".) This is a good feature. I wish other websites would incorporate it.
And the winner is: Il Fiocco - near Lecchi and Gaiole in Chianti - from Martin at Italian Vacation Villas!
Finding small isolated farmhouses or cottages in this area proved difficult. However, if one is willing to rent an apartment or a property that is part of an estate, there is a lot available for reasonable prices. Most of the independent, isolated houses are larger and thus, more expensive. Domani-USA had a few places north of Lucca in the mountains that were attractive and a bit less expensive but the locations seemed more remote than some of the more expensive ones. If you were interested, I bet that Kathy at Domani would be very helpful in further describing the options that they offer.
Other small cottages offered by Domani near Lucca look good if isolation is not your top priority.
Gridlink Italian Villa Rentals
If you're interested in staying in the Lucca area and have more of a budget and/or have a larger party, there are many good offerings. I'd suggest you look at Gridlink. They have a number of nice looking (albeit larger and more than we wanted to spend) properties to offer - Case Elena, Nicoletta, a Corte, Rosa and Fatima are all a little less expensive.
Oh - what did we end up renting for the Lucca week? We decided to rent an isolated house called Ciricea through Martin at Italian Vacation Villas (we booked the Chianti house with him). It is 9 km north of Pistoia. It can be seen at www.tuscanenterprise.it. It's quite inexpensive and not close to Lucca, but we decided we'd rather save the money and spend more time driving to Lucca and Pisa as well as exploring the areas near Pistoia.
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