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Podere Barberino in Chianti
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Reviews (17)
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Reviewed 13 October 2009

We stayed at Podere Barberino for the last two weeks in August. I can't say it more strongly: This place is magical.
We are Americans from Southern California, and were enchanted from the moment of our arrival. Barberino Val d'Elsa is a tiny, medieval town midway between Florence and Siena. This property is a working olive grove and vineyard, and the villa sits at the end of a long gravel path behind a beautiful wrought-iron gate. The house is hundreds of years old, but the owners, Rick and Flavia, have renovated it to modern standards, and the view is like something out of a dream. The common rooms are tastefully and amply furnished, and we found the bedrooms to be large and comfortable, with terrific beds (and we know -- we've rented many vacation homes, both in the U.S. and Europe, and we were with travelers who were experienced and demanding, too).

There were a few mosquitoes, bees, etc., outside -- it was, after all, August -- but they were no worse than here in the U.S., most of the windows were screened and Flavia supplied citronella candles upon our request. Air conditioning cost extra, which made sense because the villa is huge and cooling it at European rates is obviously expensive, but we were glad we sprang for it. (This probably would not be necessary in cooler months.)

The kitchen had every tool and appliance we could have asked for, including both Italian and American coffee makers. We spent most of our mornings and evenings congregating there, eating bread and cheese from the local markets and sampling the local honey and olive oil. Because we were celebrating an anniversary, we twice had professional chefs come in from a nearby village to cook in it for us (the excellent Anita and Giuseppe, who, again were recommended by Rick and Flavia). But one member of our party is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef herself, and she was impressed at how well the kitchen worked for us, and we cooked almost daily with no trouble. All of the appliances, including the washer and dryer, worked perfectly.

The grounds and infinity pool were also noteworthy. Another of our guests, a well-known New York architect, took hundreds of photos of the property, remarking on its beauty all the while. Two other members of our party were professional musicians in London, and they were touched and thrilled to see that Flavia and Rick had made a point of bringing in a working piano when they heard we hoped to make music during our stay (which we did, and it was rollicking!) Our group also included three art historians and/or artists who consulted several times with Rick and Flavia on cultural destinations for our day trips -- the property is perfectly situated for easy day trips not only to Florence, Siena and San Gimignano, but to all of the Tuscan wine regions. The villa also had excellent wireless internet service, which was much appreciated not only by others among us who had to keep in touch with an office (lawyers, journalists, an investment banker, an advertising executive, a nursing administrator and a media consultant), but also by the three web-surfing teenaged girls traveling with us (when they weren't on day trips, or going into town to check out the local boy situation, or hanging out at the pool).

We don't usually write online reviews when we travel. But our experience was such a far cry from the criticisms of the other reviewer that we simply had to respond. This place truly was exceptional, largely because of Rick and Flavia's sensitivity and consideration. When one of our guests became ill, they found us a doctor. When another accidentally spilled wine on one of the beds, Flavia mentioned it only discreetly (we of course offered to pay for the damage but our security deposit covered it easily). When extra guests showed up unexpectedly, she helped us arrange accommodations for them, and when it turned out that the fan in the one downstairs bedroom that had no a/c was insufficient for one couple, they gave us an extra room in the guest house for the price of the air conditioning alone.

When one couple in our group lost some luggage, Flavia stayed on the phone with the airline for four hours helping to arrange delivery of it to Rick's office in Florence. When we accidentally locked ourselves out of the villa one day, she and Rick quickly dispatched their groundskeeper to rescue us. Maria, the sweet and thoughtful cleaning lady, showed up with an apple-and-polenta cake one morning, and Flavia dropped by one evening with some lasagne she and Rick had made for their own dinner. Flavia suggested shopping excursions and local restaurants and wineries.

And when they heard we would be in town for the feast of St. Bartolomeo, the patron saint of the church in Val D'Elsa, they sent us straight to the priest's house to get tickets; that night, we had the privilege of being, not just tourists, but a part of the community, laughing and dancing under the stars, sitting at tables that stretched from one end of the ancient, hilltop village to the other, listening to the local brass band and feasting on pasta and wild boar and vin santo. It was an unforgettable evening, and so romantic that, the next day, our nephew proposed to his girlfriend. Thanks (at least in part) to the enchantment of Podere Barberino, they plan to be married next year.

We can't wait to go back to Barberino Val d'Elsa. By the time we left, we considered Rick and Flavia -- and Anita and Giuseppe, and Maria -- to be friends. Maybe the other reviewer's experience was the result of cultural misunderstanding, or maybe it's just that renting someone's home is not the same as renting a hotel room, and traveling with toddlers (which we have done) can require extra planning. But we consider it a privilege to have met Rick and Flavia and to have stayed in their lovely villa and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone.

  • Stayed: August 2009, travelled on business
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Thank S0CalFamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 October 2009

Our large group of extended family and friends loved staying at this villa so much that we have been twice, and can’t wait to plan our next trip to Podere Barberino. The villa is perfectly located between Siena and Florence, making either an incredibly easy trip. The grounds of the villa are beautiful and secluded, though the picturesque medieval town of Barberino Val d’Elsa is just outside the villa gates. We found the owners friendly and accommodating, with helpful suggestions and assistance to make our time in Italy truly memorable. We mastered the challenges of learning to use the oven and washing machine fairly early in our stay. The rooms of the villa are spacious, comfortable, and nicely decorated.

Our group was a combination of grandparents, families with children ages 5-16, and couples with no children. Some of our group stayed four weeks, while others had shorter visits. During one of our visits, we arrived just before Easter Sunday, and the owners presented the six young children of our group with beautiful chocolate Easter Eggs as only the Italians can create! The kids enjoyed playing on the villa grounds. Needless to say, our vacations at the villa will always be among our childrens’ most cherished memories. We think of the owners as friends, and keep in touch. We and our friends have recommended Villa Podere to other groups who have also had special times of their own.

  • Stayed: March 2006, travelled with family
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Thank Taylorfour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2009

We stayed in this Villa for four weeks and loved nearly everything about it. The location was great - close to the rail system, a few miles from major highways, and in one of the most beautiful regions of Italy - Chianti.

The grounds were absolutely wonderful. The road was lined with olive trees, lavender bushes and throughout the property you could find rosemary bushes. My boys had a great time exploring the entire property.

The Villa was comfortable and clean. They didn't have the most comfortable beds (my bed leaned downhill) but I slept fine. Most of the windows had screens (they refer to as mosquito nets) which kept out most of the critters. The Villa had quite a few areas to have group dinners, most with excellent sunset views. The pool was fabulous and was one of the highlights for our boys - we couldn't get them out. The kitchen was adequate - they claim two stoves and three ovens but we couldn't get two of the ovens to work and the third we figured out by trial and error. The owners tried to explain it to us but their English is just as bad as our Italian.

At first, the owners seemed nice but as our stay progressed, they seemed to get upset over trivial matters. Our young son was sick and one night when he slept in our bed, his pull-up overflowed. When the air conditioners first started to fail, they blamed our boys for unplugging something. They tried to tell us that our boys could not sleep in the same room as us and we should move them across the hall - our boys are 4 and 5-1/2. The daily cleaning was only supposed to go until 1:00pm and regularly stayed until 4pm. We wanted peace and quiet, not maneuvering around her cleaning supplies and mops. The bees on the property were plentiful - more than my boys cared for.

Even with the rudeness of the owners, I was satisfied with this place until check-out. We paid a lot of money to stay at this place for four weeks. The night before the maid removed the nice pillows from every room and the DVDs that they loaned us for our boys to watch. Mind you, Italy's DVD system is Region 2 and won't even work in our players. I paid far too much money not to have everything every night of my stay. The next morning they were counting wine glasses and pool towels to make sure we didn't steal them. Wow - these guys really should really think about renting out their place if it causes them this much anxiety.

All in all, the place is great provided you are willing to put up with uptight owners. I recommend this place with one big caveat - the owners.

  • Stayed: July 2009, travelled with family
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1  Thank jeffoca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
sprone, owners at Podere Barberino in Chianti, responded to this reviewResponded 6 October 2009

As the owners of Podere Barberino in Chianti, we feel obliged to respond to the review of the property on Trip Advisor of August 21, 2009 entitled “Amazing Villa But Beware of the Owner”. For ten years, we have rented this high level property very successfully, and this is the first occasion on which we have had unhappy clients. Some clients have been so pleased with the property that they have chosen to return again as clients

The clients who reviewed Podere Barberino in Chianti based on their four-week stay this summer clearly loved the property, but warned others to “beware of the owners”. We take great offense at this allegation. In this case we were not anxious owners, but rather ANGRY owners based on the manner in which the clients treated us and our property.

While clients are expected to arrive at the rental for check-in between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. these clients only arrived at 10:30 p.m. When they hadn’t arrived by 9:00 p.m., we contacted the booking agency and then received a call from the clients at 9:30 p.m. saying that the children needed to eat and that they would be arriving after dinner. Neither during this telephone conversation nor upon their very late arrival did they apologize for the inconvenience that they caused. Rentals of private properties, whether in Italy or elsewhere, are not the same as hotels where there is staffing present 24 hours a day. The clients were fortunate that we were considerate enough to remain at the property until late in the evening to await their arrival.

Podere Barberino in Chianti accommodates a total of 12 adults and 2 young children. Since the clients arrived with inflatable mattresses, it was apparent that they were planning on having extra guests - - above the limit of the house. (The signed contract we had received from the clients indicated that there would be 11 adults and two small children.) Based on the observations of the housekeeper, this occurred, in violation of the contract for the rental of the property.
When the housekeeper alerted us that there were more guests than the
number authorized in the villa, we offered a cottage on the grounds at
no additional charge.. The clients accepted the offer, and had one
person sleep there. However, additional guests slept on the inflatable
mattresses in the main villa.

Upon arrival, the parents insisted that the two young children sleep in the very well decorated master bedroom, which sleeps a maximum of three people. We suggested some alternative solutions, which were rejected by the parents, and they insisted that the children sleep in their bedroom for the entire month. The parents then arranged for one child to sleep on a lounger in their bedroom and one to sleep on a mattress which they brought from another bedroom without our authorization. The part of the lounger and the mattress was placed on the floor !

While the parents indicate that the ages of their children were 4 and 5 ½, their physical appearance and the fact that both used diapers, would suggest that that they were younger. In any event, during the four weeks of the rental, they urinated multiple times on the mattress on the floor, on the double mattress of the bed in the master bedroom, on an armchair, and on a sofa in one of the living rooms. When the urination problem was raised with the mother, she denied it categorically, and, at the same time, asked for a discount on the price of the villa - - having voluntarily signed the rental contract months before. In the course of the rental, the children managed to damage a crystal lamp, some quilts, and some other furnishings, obliging us to put some fragile and precious objects beyond their reach. Prior to their departure and after have been shown photographs of the damage, the parents agreed to pay to replace the double mattress in the master bedroom, which had been badly damaged due to the urination problem.

As soon as the clients informed us of a problem with an air-conditioning unit, we immediately summoned a technician, and it was repaired within a few hours. Since the stoves, about which the clients complained, worked both before and after their rental, we are unsure of the reason for this complaint. Regarding bees on the grounds, the property is in the countryside, and we do not use chemicals for insect control. In addition to bees, we have butterflies, birds, small animals, etc.

We did remove some decorative cushions on the day before the departure of the clients, because of the need to have them cleaned after this difficult rental and prior to the arrival of the next clients on the following day. The DVD’s about which the clients complained are not part of the furnishing of the villa, and were supplied as a courtesy to them. It is normal practice at the end of a rental that the housekeeper check the supply of glasses and tableware. Accordingly, we do not understand the reasoning behind these complaints.

Realizing early in the rental that these clients would be challenging, we contacted the agency (Divino Villas) through which they rented and offered to refund the sum that had been paid if the agency would locate other accommodations for these clients. This proposal was rejected.

We are very proud of our beautiful family villa, which we have decorated and furnished with great care. We enjoy welcoming guests to the villa, and work very hard to ensure that they have a memorable stay there. This group of renters treated our property with disrespect, and it was a very disturbing experience.

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Reviewed 13 July 2015 via mobile
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Stayed: July 2015, travelled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 May 2011
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  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with family
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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