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Slow Europe shows you how to find vacation rentals in Europe - villas, houses, cottages or apartments that you rent by the week.

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Member: Valerie

6 reviews by this member

Review of: *Agriturismo.it

Listings for Italy: All Regions

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 Rating - 5 stars

Reviewed on: June 1, 2009

Date of Stay: spring 2009

Vacation Rental Name: La Foresteria di San Leo

La Foresteria di San Leo, Trivigno, Potenza Province, Basilicata

I admit that I am very partial to this area because my ancestral villages are nearby. In the uncontaminated high-altitude air of central Basilicata, where no polluting industry spews smog or contaminates, and where farming is still the primary industry, La Foresteria di San Leo proudly and lovingly maintains the long-standing traditions of the area - in their agricultural practices, the products they produce, and the kitchen.

We received a genuinely warm greeting from Maria Giovanna and Peppino, who made us immediately feel right at home. Our apartment was a compact two bedroom, with an all-in-one kitchen/dining/living room, a spacious bathroom, a nice-sized room with queen bed, and a smaller bedroom with two twin beds. A covered portal had an outdoor table and chairs for lounging or dining al fresco. Some family antiques were mixed in with the new furniture, including an old cabinet once used by a shopkeeper to contain four types of pastas, reborn as a deep-drawered dresser. The wood floors lent a warm, rustic touch.

The galley kitchen was small but functional and we cooked several meals here. It contained an electric 4-burner stovetop and a countertop toaster oven, along with all the basic cookware and utensils necessary. Nice glassware and dishware was provided, and a delicious homemade ricotta torte welcomed us, along with a cruet of local olive oil.

Satellite TV was provided, and wireless internet was in the process of being installed as we were departing. There is a swimming pool with ample outdoor sun space, but we were there too early in the season to take advantage of it. The grounds are nice and there are ample places to meander, enjoy lounging with a book, or take in the views. The farm encompasses 200 hectares, where they grow wheat and barley, have extensive fruit and nut orchards, and raise sheep for pecorino cheese, wool, and meat. The roads are great for country walks.

And what views! Unobstructed vistas take in the dramatic, craggy Dolomiti Lucane and surrounding mountains, and tumbled down to the steep valley of the Camastra River. The silence is complete, save for the chirping birds and tinkling sheep bells.

San Leo offers two apartments: our small two-bedroom and a larger, more luxurious two-bedroom which has a spacious living area, a large kitchen, two bathrooms, and an enormous panoramic terrace. Next time, I want that apartment! There are also two suites and three rooms utilized like a bed and breakfast. I eyed the breakfast buffet and it looked delicious, with an assortment of home-baked goodies, fresh cheese from the farm, prosciutto, thick, crusty bread, along with juices and coffee.

I can’t say enough about the sweet and welcoming owners. They were truly wonderful, and after our two-week stay we left feeling like part of the family. We would return again solely to see them and enjoy their amazing cuisine. Anything we needed was provided immediately upon request. Maria Giovanna cooks up a storm of traditional dishes and presents them with pride. She conducts cooking classes upon request at a very reasonable fee; they sell the products from the farm like jams and cheeses.

Trivigno is a very small town but has all the basic services you need and we found people to be very kind, if a little amused by the foreigners' presence. There are no restaurants in town, but there are several very good down-home type of restaurants in the general area where you can eat Lucanian fare at cheap prices. (And of course Maria Giovanna's in-house restaurant open by reservation is a must for at least one meal during your stay!)

You must take a somewhat a windy road to reach Trivigno, but it is convenient to the superstrada, and in a good position for exploring central Basilicata and the dramatic, beautiful towns of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa. Potenza is a half-hour away; Matera about 1 1/2 hours. Aliano, Craco, Acerenza, Castel Lagopesole, Melfi and Venosa are worthwhile visiting.

Review of: HomeAway - Italy

Listings for Italy: All Regions, Florence, Rome, Venice

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 Rating - 5 stars

Reviewed on: March 19, 2009

Date of Stay: fall 2008

Vacation Rental Name: Casa dei Cieli

We stayed at Casa dei Cieli with visiting friends, to have time to cook together and hang out in a relaxing spot. The house fit the bill perfectly; it is spacious enough that we didn't feel crowded. The kitchen is large and we enjoyed cooking several meals together while sipping wine from the nearby vineyard (excellent wines!). The house is a complete restoration of an old ruined farmhouse, so it has all the modern touches while being constructed in old brick. It retains the wood beams and brick archways for a touch of antiquity. It is very comfortably furnished with high-quality furnishings (leather sofas, cushy chairs, a long, wooden dining table). Upstairs are four bedrooms, each one with different bedding for guests to choose their preference of soft or firm mattress. One room has a little terrace. Each one has nice views of the countryside. There are two baths upstairs, one with a large spa-type shower, the other with a romantic old-style tub. Downstairs is another bath with shower.

Everything here is quality. The kitchen is very well equipped, possibly the best I've seen in all the rentals I have stayed in, with loads of cookware, serving ware, even a nice citrus juicer.

The views are unbelievable - you can count at least 7 hilltowns in the surrounding area. The house is perched on a "prow" so it's unimpeded. We were able to sit on the terrace and watch the local farmers harvesting their grapes and the lineup of their cute "ape" trucks carting them to the winery to be pressed. This is a very quiet and restful spot.

There is a nice pool but in autumn it was too cool to swim. Loads of deck chairs and outdoor dining tables.

Review of: Marche Owners Direct

Listings for - Italy listings for: Marche

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 Rating - 5 stars

Reviewed on: July 20, 2014

Date of Stay: summer 2013

Vacation Rental Name: The Hideaway

The Hideaway is also called Il Nascondiglio. Its bi-lingual name aptly refers to its atmosphere. Though it's just a few minutes outside Amandola and Comunanza, it is tucked away in the countryside in a quiet and pretty setting.

The apartments are cozy and well-equipped with everything, with decor to give it a romantic feel. The owners are very sweet and willing to offer advice on places to go and eat. They put lots of thought into the restoration and outfitting of things, giving little extras that made it special, like homemade muffins for our breakfast, and with amenities like cotton balls and Q-tips in the bathroom (silly maybe to mention but nice touches!).

Kitchens are compact but usable and with everything to cook a meal (or just make coffee and tea, if you prefer). Each apartment and room has its own outdoor space. There is an above-ground pool to cool off in (we didn't use it) and outdoor tables, a BBQ grill available, and space to roam. The prices are very reasonable.

We enjoyed it here. The stars at night were incredible (they thoughtfully put a little flashlight on the keychain so you can get to your apartment at night in the dark!) and the dogs are sweet and friendly. Sarah and Mark were very welcoming and the place is spotless.

Review of: Summer in Italy

Local Agency based in Italy

Listings for Italy: Campania (Amalfi Coast), Emilia-Romagna, Lake Como, Lazio, L --> Listings for Italy: Campania (Amalfi Coast), Emilia-Romagna, Lake Como, Lazio, Liguria, Puglia, Rome, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria, Venice

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 Rating - 5 stars

Reviewed on: June 1, 2009

Date of Stay: fall 2006

Vacation Rental Name: Villa Gioconda

Agropoli, Costa del Cilento

We stayed at Villa Gioconda in October, 2006. There were four of us occupying three of the four bedrooms.

This is a great house for a small group of friends or a family get-together. The rooms are very spacious, with several areas for gathering and hanging out. The living room is open to the entry and dining but feels warm and tranquil. It has all the "usual" electronics. The dining room is nicely done, but I admit we never used it. We generally ate in the wonderful, enormous kitchen or out on the patio.

The kitchen is fabulous! It is huge but doesn't feel cavernous, with good work space. It is well equipped with everything you need, including plentiful dishware. There was ample space for two or three of us cook together without getting in each others' way.

The bedrooms are ample sized, especially the "honeymoon suite" with its huge bathroom and jet tub. Three bedrooms are upstairs, one is downstairs on the main level. The downstairs bathroom doesn't have a shower, but there is an additional full bathroom down in the taverna.

The taverna is amazing! We loved this room, which is great for a party. The big kitchen is equipped with a wood-fired pizza oven, and the cozy settee area has a fireplace. The very long dining room table accommodates everyone (I was told it was originally used in a monastery). The wide door opens up to turn it into an indoor/outdoor party area. Really neat space!

The black marble staircase is very attractive, but it could be a little hard to distinguish the steps at night. There is a door at the top of the stairs, to close off TV or conversation noise from sleeping kids or tired adults.

Furnishings are all modern and comfortable, fit well with the style of the house and needs of guests. We had a problem keeping two of the stove burners lit, but the owners responded immediately and sent someone right over to repair it. They responded quickly to all of our emails and questions and offered restaurant recommendations.

The terraces offered wonderful views. We took our coffee outside most mornings to take in the sea view. A pool has been installed since our stay.

The narrow road to reach the house is a little tricky at first, but once we got used to it, we navigated it more easily. There is a very good and inexpensive pizzeria just up the hill from the house, and a few other restaurants along the road up to there, as well as in Agropoli and nearby Santa Maria di Castellabate.

This was a great house for our little family reunion and we loved every minute of our stay here. We highly recommend it. The hospitality of the people in this area amazed us.

Full disclosure: Since renting two of their villas I have become friend with the owners.

Review of: Summer in Italy

Local Agency based in Italy

Listings for Italy: Campania (Amalfi Coast), Emilia-Romagna, Lake Como, Lazio, L --> Listings for Italy: Campania (Amalfi Coast), Emilia-Romagna, Lake Como, Lazio, Liguria, Puglia, Rome, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria, Venice

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 Rating - 5 stars

Reviewed on: June 1, 2009

Date of Stay: winter 2009

Vacation Rental Name: Villa Virginia

Full Disclosure: I am friends with the owners of Villa Virginia.

This is the kind of vacation villa everyone dreams of - comfortable and spacious, stellar views, a bathroom for everyone in the group, a large kitchen along with outdoor cooking area, daily maid service, plenty of patio space to enjoy, wireless internet as well as a house computer, air conditioning, and a swimming pool. Perfection, except perhaps for the very steep road to reach the place, but once there the unbelievable views make it very worthwhile. The entire Amalfi Coast and Capri can be seen, along with the immediate coast and pretty town of Santa Maria di Castellabate. We watched the fishing boats leave every morning, and toasted the sunset every evening.

There are 7 bedrooms and 7 baths, making it ideal for a family reunion or group of friends. No one has to share a bathroom, and the bedrooms are all quite spacious; all but one have doors opening onto a patio or terrace. Everything is nicely done up and tastefully decorated; beds are comfortable and there are large wardrobes and dressers. I liked that there was bedside lighting (not always a given in Italian rentals!).

The kitchen is very large and has abundant dishware and glassware, along with serving ware of all sizes. There is a large table in the kitchen for informal meals, a long dining room table that accommodates everyone, and several outdoor tables placed around too. If I had one complaint with the villa it would be that kitchen lighting is rather dim, but we were there in the off-season when the sun goes down sooner than in high summer.

The living room has satellite TV, a DVD player, several sofas, and a pretty fireplace that seems to have never been used. There is a desk with computer available to guests, and a telephone rigged up to provide very cheap calls out of Italy.

Another nice touch is the laundry room with washing machine (including a rapid cycle!) and a dryer, not something you often find in Italy. There is a clothesline on the upper terrace for rapid drying in the sun, as well.

Outside is a nice swimming pool complete with little shower area and outside bathroom (but we were there in the off-season and didn't get to make use of it); plenty of patio space, a ping-pong table, a gazebo, and a great outdoor cooking space, with wood-fired grill and pizza oven. Oh yeah, and those views!!

The villa is in a quiet neighborhood. A car is necessary, but the closest shops and coffee bars are just a few minutes away. There is a good veggie shop and fish shop just at the bottom of the hill, and two supermarkets right there as well. Everything you need can be found in Santa Maria with its pretty Corso lined with shops and gelaterias.

There was obviously much thought and attention to detail put into furnishing and equipping Villa Virginia. I can't imagine anyone not loving it, and I hope to return for a family reunion in the next year or so!

Review of: Valle Nuova

Listings for Italy: Marche

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 Rating - 5 stars

Reviewed on: July 10, 2014

Date of Stay: summer 2014

Vacation Rental Name: Valle Nuova

We had been wanting to stay at Valle Nuova for some time, and finally made it up there. What a wonderful setting and gorgeous views! We had the compact, comfortable Cascina dei Cavalli. Cute and cozy, it was equipped with everything imaginable, truly one of the best outfitted apartments we've stayed in. Giulia thought of absolutely everything we as guests could need, including an umbrella and a soft cooler for taking a picnic lunch with us on day trips. The kitchen had everything needed for cooking, including good cutlery (a pet peeve of mine is lack of decent knives), plenty of dishware and cookware. She had a nice welcome pack of goodies to get us started and made recommendations on places to eat and shop. She and her parents are very gracious and welcoming hosts.

We loved the little dog and cute kitties that welcomed us back from our outings, and cooled down in the pool every afternoon, before sitting on the deck to watch the sun set behind the hills. It's a very relaxing setting, yet some nice towns are in easy reach. We took an immediate liking to Urbania, a lovely town with loads of atmosphere, a vibrant feel, good restaurants. Made a day trip to Urbino to see the museums and another day trip to San Marino (taking Giulia's advice to visit the less-touristy San Leo, which is just as dramatic as San Marino, without the kitschy effect).

There are other larger apartments on the property, too. The Valle Nuova is a winner in our book for the way they're equipped, the location, and the overall feel. We'd go back!

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