We DID have a marvelous trip! Two weeks of perfect weather with visits to many amazing sites and lots of great food and wine. Our reservation at Podere di Montepulciano was perfect and one of two of our most favorite places we stayed. The hosts were generous and friendly and the site is so beautiful. We also visited the nearby little hilltown of Montefollonico (via the exciting gravel backroad!) for dinner at La Costa on your recommendation and that was excellent too.
I would also like to mention the disappointment we had at the end of the trip which is worthy of note to other travelers, part oversight on our part and seemingly part double standard on the part of the TSA. Returning from Italy, we flew Milan to New York JFK and on to Minneapolis. In Milan we purchased some duty-free vinegar and liquor which happen to exceed the 4 oz limit by TSA but it was allowed to be carried onboard. This is fine once inside the airport secure area but at JFK we had to clear Customs (no problem) claim our luggage and then recheck it with our airline Delta. At this point we were outside all secure areas. Then after taking a short train to another terminal for our domestic flight home, we had to pass through gate security again. Here we had to give up the vinegar and liquor even when they were still in their sealed duty-free bags because they exceeded the size limits. We were too far from the Delta desk, didn't have time to get back there to check these items and our bags had already been checked. We could have put these items in our luggage before we re-checked it but because they were sealed in duty-free bags and we had already carried them on once, it didn't occur to us. To add insult to injury, a duty-free kiosk was 100 yards down the concourse after the security gate at JFK. I thought duty-free stores were only found in international terminals. It would have been helpful along the way for some reminder, like the PA announcement I heard in the Minneapolis airport reminding passengers of the size limit for liquids in carry-on luggage. But this didn't address duty-free items either.
Thanks for your help,
Trip was very good, thanks for setting it up. I recommended your service to my friends.
A few comments: the Montepulciano property was very good, but also very isolated. Might want to let people know that they should rent a bigger car for handling the service road.
We got back from Montepulciano on Sunday. What a beautiful trip. Jessica, in November, 2003, my wife and I stayed at the Palazzo Bandino. At that time we thought it was the most beautiful setting we had ever seen, but we were wrong. The Podere di Montepulciano was an even more beautiful setting. I'm not sure words alone can describe it. Every morning we awoke to the awesome sight of Montepulciano, and the beautiful church of San Biago, in the background. Beautiful fields, some rich with grapevines full of fruit, ready to be picked, and some empty fields ready for the next crop. Both Podere di Montepulciano and Palazzo Bandino are owned and operated by the Valeriani family. Both Gabriele and his daughter, Marta, made us feel like we were part of their family. It really felt like we had come home. Maybe it was because we were at the Palazzo Bandino in November, but I have a feeling that they are both just very special people. We feel that we have come to know them very well and they are very warm and loving people, who take a lot of pride in what they do. We also had a home cooked meal there this time. We had a lot of fun at the meal and it was well worth the money. The food was out of this world and the wine flowed like water and was some of the best we had during our trip. My older brother and his wife came along with us this time and wanted to see what it was like to stay on a farm. We had some reservations, as staying on a farm is not like staying in a 4 star hotel. My brother is 13 years older then I am and I was a bit worried that it would be to rustic for them. But they adapted well and loved the experience too. Staying on a farm is not for everyone. You do have to contend with insects coming into your room. The farmhouse is clean, but can be dusty. The dirt road leading to our place was almost impassable when it rained and was very hard on our tires and shocks. The advice you give on your website is very accurate and people should follow it. Stopping at the COOP and getting some basic supplies and food to get you through the weekend helped to make our stay very enjoyable.
Jessica, thank you and the staff at In Italy. Once again, you have helped to make our trip to Italy a wonderful adventure. We hope to be in contact with you again when we plan our next trip.
Rick and Joyce L.
We had an absolutely marvelous time. I would just tell your readers that, both the podere and Montepulciano are fabulous locations for young children. Both of my kids - 2 and 41/2 years old - went swimming in the pool each morning - in that wonderful setting. And the town has two playgrounds - also both in excellent settings. The playgrounds ended up being a great way to meet people.
My wife Maureen and I had a fabulous time in Italy and enjoyed our stay with you. We stayed in Oca, which turned out to be much larger than we expected. Quite nice. We especially enjoyed the wine tasting and then dinner the following night where we had a chance to make some new friends. The meal was terrific and please send our thanks to Marta and the rest of the staff for making our experience so wonderful.
We sure hope we can return some day. What a beautiful area! It was a perfect location for day trips throughout the area and we even made time for some rest.
Many Thanks again,
Marty and Maureen H.
Hello Jessica and Kristen:
We enjoyed our stay at Podere di Montepulciano. The farmhouse was great, especially Torre and L'Aquila. Onda is much too small for an extended stay, even with the use of a kitchen in the other apartments. The pool was fantastic and views great. The apartments were well maintained and the kitchen equipment more than adequate. You may want to suggest that they convert Onda to a communal washing machine area, or provide a washing machine somewhere in the farmhouse. You may also want to rewrite your description of the access. The impression we had was that the farmhouse was a short walk into Montepulciano, however, the limerock road and hills made it a difficult and dusty walk (although the kids hiked it several times). The farmhouse is a great place to stay if you want rest and relaxation, however, if you are like us and like to explore surrounding cities, it is a bit too far from the autostrada (almost 45 minutes) which added a lot of time to our daily trips. Also, since the owner/manager lives at another location and there is no phone at the farmhouse, you definitely need a cell phone (ours worked on and off).
Kathleen C. P.
We had another great trip to Italy (2 for 2). I can't believe we again were so impressed with a place we only saw over the Internet. Here are some immediate thoughts:
1. Podere di Montepulciano has screens in every window which means NO mosquitoes and you can leave the windows open all night. I don't understand why screens are not more common in Italy.
2. We were in the mill house which is very private. We usually drove up to the main house to use the pool there since it was a much bigger pool and had a great view of Montepulciano.
3. You can drive right to the top of Montepulciano and park near the Duomo. We did not realize this the first day and ended up hiking up the whole town to make it to mass.
4. We were there during wheat harvest time which meant the reaper was in the fields. Made us realize it was a working farm. After our field was harvested we saw a flock of sheep high on the hill with a shepherd leisurely driving them to patches of green grass. As we walked through the field we spooked a large pheasant!
5. Our favorite unexpected town jewel was San Quirco d'Orcia.
6. Abbadia Oliveto Maggiore was way better that we expected and is not to be missed: It opens at 3:15 PM so we recommend eating at the Torre restaurant at 1:30PM then seeing the Abbey. Make sure you get a volunteer to give you an explanation of the frescos and private rooms (this is the best part).
Thank you for your interest. First, Podere di Montepulciano and its location far surpassed our expectations. After seeing much of the Tuscany area, we were in agreement that we loved the area in which we were staying the most. Truly a magical spot. I believe the pictures presented on the website and in the brochures do not do it justice.
Our main complaint was unexpected. Staying below our apartment was a family with two very young children. Surprisingly, the soundproofing was not very good. The children were very noisy and particularly at early hours of the morning. This detracted from the natural peace and serenity of the property. It did not enter my mind when I made to reservation to inquire if it was a property for families. I would do this next time.
Also, since the floors were tiled, the noise of the kitchen chairs (from other apartments) being moved, was incredibly noisy and also quite distracting from the natural peace of the property. This seems as if it would be easy to remedy by the owners.
There were many wonderful surprises and our advise would be for visitors to explore off the beaten path and go beyond what the tourist information suggests. Therein lies so much magic.
Trusting this will be of assistance.
Dyanna and Barry A.
We had a terrific time at Podere di Montepulciano, although the weather was unseasonably cold for May. We especially enjoyed the quiet location with beautiful views. There were a couple of unexpected negatives. We were expecting a "sitting area," which turned out to be an unlit corner of the kitchen with a folding bed. Also, we felt that the place could have been swept more thoroughly ("dust bunnies" in the bedrooms). In spite of this, I would recommend the place to others looking for a peaceful location in southern Tuscany. One tip: Parking near the S. Agnese entrance to Montepulciano is limited, but if you exit the S. Agnese parking lot going DOWN the hill and follow the drive to the right, you will find ample free parking. You can also reach this parking area more directly by taking a left at the end of the gravel road that Podere di Montepulciano is on (we did not discover this until our last day!).
We arrived about an hour late because we had gotten lost and really had no way to call. Gabriele was there waiting to give us our key and was very gracious. A bottle of wine was waiting also as a welcome gift. They held a very lovely welcome reception on Sunday with tours of the winery operation. The products such as wine and olive oil were available for purchase also. The wines were pleasant but the olive oil was excellent. The Onda apartment was very very tiny. It would have been difficult to actually cook a meal there. We ate there only twice and simply had cold meats, cheese and wine. We were gone days but in the evenings we sat outside. If the weather had been bad, it would have been uncomfortable for 2 people to be inside together. It was smaller than either of the other 2 hotel rooms we stayed in. The other problem was that 4 of the other 5 apartments on the property were rented to people with children, so it was always very noisy and wasn't very relaxing. Also, the other people were all European and the women sunbathed topless which we were not comfortable with since this is not an American custom so we never used the pool. We had not anticipated these things and don't think there was any way we could have. Perhaps next time it would be better to stay at a different type of property that catered to adults not families.
We really had a nice time and we were not unhappy with our accommodations but just felt you needed to be aware of any negatives along with the positives we experienced to assist you better in the future.
I want to thank for all your help, it made our trip much easier and therefore more enjoyable. I will go over our journal and let you know about some of the hidden local treasures we found and some of the fabulous places we ate so they can be posted on your message board and shared with others.
Carol & Larry L.
Thank you for your thoughtful inquiry re "the vacation". We had a wonderfully relaxing week in Tuscany at Podere di Montepulciano, Gabriele is a gracious host, and Domenic was very helpful. Great scenery, and the hill towns were a delight to visit. We found the food tasty but somewhat plain !?!, which was a surprise. The wine was great, and really inexpensive, compared to North American prices. Definitely a vacation to remember, and we will go back to Tuscany. Thanks for your help, and we will be in touch soon.
Jim and Val R.
My husband and I are still not quite "back to earth" yet, after a truly wonderful, relaxing, and mind-opening trip to Italy, our first overseas. The truly relaxing, and wondrous part of it was the two weeks we spent at Podere di Montepulciano. We couldn't have picked a more perfect spot. After three days tromping around the busy streets of Rome, the gorgeous, peaceful countryside in the environs of Montepulciano were mind- and eye-boggling. We spotted our "home" nestled in the rolling vineyards and hayfields long before we got even close along the road. The Bruco and Oca apartments (my sister and her husband from California joined us the second week) were spacious, comfortable, cool and breezy.
Often we had the place to ourselves, since most of our neighbors were off on extensive day-trips a lot of the time. We were more than happy to enjoy local sights in and around Montepulciano, Pienza, Montefollonico, San Quirico D'Orcia, and Chiusi. Almost everything was a local treasure to us: little grocery stores, wineshops, cafes, churches, but especially the local people, all so polite, gentle, helpful, and humorous.
We especially appreciate all the staff at Podere di Montepulciano, they were so gracious and helpful: Anna, Enrica, Franz, and Gabriele. We really enjoyed their hospitality at the wine-tasting/tour and also the wonderful Tuscan dinner they hosted.
We took the train up from Rome to Chiusi, which is a little gem of a town. There are small, honest, local eateries all around, and the old "centro storico" up on the hill is as rich and beautiful as any surrounding hilltown. The drive up to Montepulciano was easy, even for first-time travellers.
We were glad we stayed the two weeks, really got to know the area pretty well, and just soaked in the views, and the sun, and the rich local color. We would go back in a second, and couldn't think of anyplace else to stay but Podere di Montepulciano. Thanks again to In Italy, and please give my special thanks and regards to Kristin, who got us started on this memorable venture.
Lissa & Gerald Z.
We did have a wonderful trip - our itinerary was remarkable... allowing for a great deal of hiking, boating across the lakes, soaking in hot mineral baths and eating. We were perfectly delighted with Podere di Montepulciano and all the services offered by the crew. We appreciated all your advance information. One suggestion we'd make is to include the address and hours for the supermarket in Montepulciano. We're not absolutely sure we're remembering the name correctly, but we think it was a Conad. It's there, outside the city walls, on the north (east?) end of town. Parking was abundant and easily accessible; selection was good. We'd strongly suggest that people include an afternoon at Bagno Vignoni. For 10 Euro for the full day (less for just an afternoon or for the evening session which was from 9 to midnight), you can swim, soak and sun in a remarkable setting.
Montefollonico became our home away from home. We enjoyed the Bar Sport and its shaded terrace, the afternoon market, the small alimentari in town, and the wine maker, Flavio Andreuci, at his brand new enoteca called Buca de Barbacca. We'll write more if we find the time!
Our week at Podere di Montepulciano was great!!!!. After the bustle and roar of London, Munich, Rome and Florence the only sound we heard were the cuckoo birds singing --- just what we needed. It's with a two edge sword I write saying that our time in Tuscany was marvelous - on one hand I want to spread the word and on the other I want to keep it just for myself. We were there the first week of May, and the only real problem we encountered was visual overload - our eyes got tired of looking, but that didn't slow us down. The vistas were lush and green, dotted with flowers: red poppies, blue blue iris and orchids by the roadside. The land was rolling hills, deep valleys and steep hillsides. We saw deer and wild boar as well. The people of Italy were generous, kind and professional in all our dealings with them. The pecorino and wine made our homecooked meals a treat, dining out was even better. Our day trips to surrounding areas were easy - on various days we traveled to Siena; Arezzo, Cortona, Montalcino among others. We spent a good deal of time in Montepulciano.
The directions which were good - indicated the distance from Florence as 69 miles - of course the road signs are all in kilometers, but the signs are clear and easily understood so getting around was no problem. The drivers were amazing - especially the trucks - getting into and safely through streets (lanes) that American drivers wouldn't even attempt. Our host, whose English was better than our Italian, was genial, but it might help to have a sheet printed with information regarding how to read the meter and what the check out process is (in various languages, we were there with people from Germany and Scandinavia) . Otherwise, we might have been in our own home.
Kristin, thanks to you for your assistance and reassurance. All reservations went without a hitch. I can sum up our visit to Tuscany this way: we plan to return!
Thanks for the email. We did have a wonderful trip and we came home very relaxed. We were very pleased with Podere di Montepulciano. The view of Montepulciano, San Biagio, the vineyards and fields was spectacular and we really could have stayed there all day enjoying the views. We did however take day trips most days although we were always delighted to come home again at the end of the day and enjoy the sunset while we ate our dinner. I can't imagine a better place to stay in the Montepulciano area than this. We felt very lucky to have found the place through your agency.
No local treasures come to mind since all of Tuscany felt like one big treasure. I don't think visitors to the area can go wrong unless they hurry through because it is a place to savor and enjoy at a slower pace.
If we are lucky enough to return again I will certainly think of In Italy for our accommodations and car rental.
Our party of five found Podere di Montepulciano and our stay in Montepulciano to be quite wonderful. The Tartuca apartment was charming, and the views of the hills from the bedrooms made waking every morning very pleasant. The most significant feature was its location. What a spectacular spot!
Located a couple of kilometers down a one lane dirt road the farmhouse is extremely peaceful, with wonderful views of the stars at night. We all loved the solitude of the farmhouse. The farmhouse has commanding views of the town of Montepulciano, which only added to the charm. We also enjoyed that every day as we left and returned to the farmhouse we passed San Biagio, a relatively modest but beautiful church that is not overrun with tourists (for your architect clients this is a big selling point). The property's location also made day trips to Pienza, Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni easy.
We also thoroughly enjoyed Montepulciano. It is off the beaten path of most tour buses - unlike our experience at San Gimignano - thus we were able to soak in the ambiance of the town at a leisurely and satisfying pace. We loved this hilltown. We had a wonderful dinner at La Grotta, outside of the town walls and adjacent to San Biagio. It is very convenient to the property and served a variety of wonderful entrees to all five of us.
We were most pleased with our choice and I was very satisfied with the time and attention In Italy gave me as I made the arrangements. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a single decision. My sister booked another portion of our trip - Rome - with In Italy, too. This worked out just as well, but I will leave the details for her to describe. Thank you very much, In Italy. When we make plans to return to Italy we will use your services without question.