This was my second trip to Italy and our first trip to Villa il Castellaccio. We were travelling to celebrate my 50th birthday and I researched endlessly trying to decide where to stay in Tuscany. I decided to book three apartments with Villa il Castellaccio and am so happy I did. We loved our week at Villa il Castellaccio! Leondardo was wonderful with the booking and answering all my questions promptly by email (booking about 10 months in advance of stay with ongoing questions). We booked Apartments 1,2 and 3 for the week of Sept 14-21, 2013. We were given great directions to reach the property in our rental car that we picked up in Pisa and were greeted by Leondardo's lovely young english speaking helper (I'm so sorry I forgot to write down her name). She gave us a tour of the apartments and provided a folder with local information and detailed info for each apartment. The property is just as it looks in the photos and is very well taken care of. The pool was lovely for swimming and the area by the pool was nice to sit and enjoy the views. Leonardo was also onsite to greet us and answer any questions we may have. There is a wonderful couple on site during the week taking care of the property and assisting guests if needed. We were a group of 8 so having three apartments gave us plenty of space. Each apartment had a charm of its own...
Apartment 1 is on the top floor and has the best views. Although there are many places on the property to sit and relax and enjoy the views if you stay in the other apartments. As it is on the top floor there are stairs to climb, so if stairs are an issue you may want to choose another apartment. The kitchen is smaller than Apartments 2 and 3 so if you plan to do a lot of cooking and only booking this apartment it may not be the right one for you. It was perfect for us as we had access to the other apartments so only used the fridge (1/2 size) and sink and stove to heat water but not oven. There are 3 bedrooms, 1 double spacious room with shudders that open to a view of the pool, 1 smaller but lovely single with the best view of the property and Tuscan countryside and a spacious twin room with a view of pool as well. We slept in the double bed and found it very comfortable. All rooms were lovely and the only comment I will make is that the twin room backs onto the double so may not give complete privacy to either room if needed. The twin room was empty for us as we had plenty of space but it might be a concern with more people that are looking to share the space that want privacy. There were two bathrooms with showers and they were spotless and spacious. There was a washing machine that challenged us a little (I say this with a smile ), but with the help of the caretakers had a happy ending. Probably the only recommendation I would make for Leondardo would be to add english directions for the washing machine with interpretations of the Italian buttons to assist with use for future guests. Favourite for this apartment is the views.
Apartment 2 was spacious with 2 bedrooms and a loft. We loved to gather in this kitchen. It had a great long counter to allow a few people to work at and help with dinner and big table to sit around and enjoy meals and conversation. The living room looked cozy although we did not sit there as a group. The living room opens onto a small patio but we were either by the pool or enjoying the patio at Apartment 3 so we didn't use it this trip. In case it is an issue for you, there are a few stairs in this apartment, up to loft and to the bathroom off the main bedroom. The rooms are not as bright as it is on the lower level so no views, but I think if it was extremely hot out you would welcome this as it would keep the apartment cooler (not sure as temps were only around 24 celcius while we were there so not too bad) and as I mentioned you can zip up to the pool to relax and enjoy the views if that is what you like. Favourite for this apartment was the kitchen.
Apartment 3 was the largest apartment. It's living room, dining room and kitchen area was very spacious. We gathered in this apartment for a cooking lesson one evening and it was one of the best nights we shared while in Tuscany. This apartment is on the lower level and would have the best access for anyone that has trouble with stairs. The bedrooms were dark but cozy. There is a huge covered patio to sit out and enjoy and as mentioned the pool is near too. Sorry I don't have too much to add about the bedrooms for this apartment as I only peeked quickly at the rooms but I know that all the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, etc were spotless in all 3 apartments. Favourite for this apartment was the covered patio.
In addition to enjoying the property, pool and apartments there are a few other highlights I will add:
Pizza Oven- There is a wood burning pizza oven available to guests, with wood and directions supplied. It was fun to gather ingredients during the day as we explored local villages and then create our own dinner back home. Highly recommend this if you stay (we used the pre-made dough from supermarket and it worked well and was less mess than making dough from scratch).
Cooking Lesson with Jacopo - we booked this in advance and as I mentioned it worked well in Apartment 3. As there were 8 of us Jacopo was kind enough to come to Villa il Castellaccio to provide the lesson. Jacopo and his sister Susie showed up with a car full of food, recipes and plenty of patience for a room of mostly non chefs. After reviewing the recipes to make...Chicken Cacciatore, Ravioli with spinach and ricotta, gnocchi, salad, tiramisu (is your mouth watering yet??)...we were all assigned tasks. Chopping, kneading dough, building tiramisu, sauteing vegetables, etc. It was a fun atmosphere and as we sipped wine the stress of wondering if we would be able to eat what we made faded as we were coached and assisted by the amazing Chef Jacopo and his sweet sister Susie! After 2-3 hours of fun in the kitchen we were served an amazing meal (yes the one we helped create) while Jacopo and Susie cleaned up the mess we made. I felt badly they did not join us but I know they had about an hours drive back to their home so they wanted to pack up and get going. I would highly recommend this experience if you have the chance to attend a cooking lesson with Jacopo. My group made a few noises about the cost of the lesson but I can tell you that after the lesson and the wonderful meal we all felt it was worth the cost...go ahead and splurge..you won't be sorry.
Wine tour with Leonardo on my 50th birthday was truly a highlight of my week at the Villa and I know the whole group enjoyed it too. For a small fee of only 5 euro per person Leonardo spent about 1-2 hours sharing information about the vineyards, wine making process and history of the property. I'm not sure if every tour is this long but we were a group of 8 and asked tons of questions. At the end of the tour we were served generous samples of his wine, which we absolutely loved!! Oh yes and their Olive Oil was fantastic too and I'm so happy we were able to purchase wine and olive oil to bring home and enjoy...delicious! Leonardo is super busy with a young family and a business in Florence and we are extremely happy we booked this time with him and were able to learn about the property and enjoy his company - Grazie Leonardo!!. The group photo he took at the end for us was the best group photo from the trip - Grazie again!
Lucolena - if you have a few hours take a wander up the road to Lucolena, it is tiny but on a sunny day is a lovely walk and you can look back and see the rolling Tuscan hills and a great view of the Villa and property. We walked up early one morning and had a coffee at the general store and then an icecream just for fun because they were so nice and we wanted to give them business. As we sat out front of the store on the bench sipping coffee, two locals pulled up in their truck and parked in front of the no parking / towing sign and wandered in for their morning coffee. There were lots of buongiornos and smile flying around...very nice way to start our day.
Driving in Tuscany - Easy day trip to Florence. It was so easy to travel by train from Filgine Valdarno (8 kms from Villa il Castellaccio). Parking near the station in Filgine Valdarno was free and there were many trains to choose from. We took day trips from Villa il Castellaccio each day to: Greve, Panzano, Siena, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Florence. Loved all but San Gimignano and Montepulciano were favourites.
My recommendation to you is stop searching and just book the Villa or one or more of the apartments, you won't be disappointed and will have a true Tuscan experience!
Thank you Leonardo for making our stay and my 50th birthday so wonderful!! Grazie Millie!!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Panoramic location in the heart of Chianti at Lucolena near Greve, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, Villa il Castellaccio makes an ideal homebase for relaxing in the quiet of nature but also being near to famous Tuscan cities: Florence, Siena, SanGimignano, Arezzo it’s great for day trips ,exploring medieval villages along the way. The Structure has a Villa with a private garden and pool and 4 apartments sharing another terrace and pool. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Villa Il Castellaccio Greve In Chianti, Italy - Tuscany