Chianti Vistas' Guestbook


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Dear Kristin,

Chianti Vista was well located, near Florence, but not far from Pisa or Lucca, though driving was a must. I liked it for the beautiful vista from the pool, Fausto, the friendly staff member was helpful, and I thought it was a relaxing place. The restaurant was beautiful, and romantic with great food at a good value, especially if you are able to indicate to the staff that you would like to split the portions [there was a lot of food]. Our room [2br 2ba] was musty if we kept the windows closed [old stone houses do that, I know] but since there were screens on the windows and pleasant weather, keeping the windows open worked out fine.

I would go back, but my husband, who did the driving, would prefer to be in a town and forgo a car, but we'll approach that when we plan our next trip.

Thank you and Julie for your help
Lisa U.


Jessica,

We had an amazing trip to Italy.  The help and advice that came from the In Italy office was truly helpful.  We were thrilled with all aspects of our trip.

This group of apartments in Tuscany is very beautiful.  We were thrilled with the views from the pool and the roadside as were took our morning walks.  We met other guests who were from Australia, Canada and Romania. Our apartment was #7 and had two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  The apartment was comfortable and clean.   Bring your own hairdryer with the correct adapter plug.  There is no safe in the room and an internet connection is not available.  Bring everything on the list that is recommended. Face cloths are not provided with the towels anywhere in Italy that we stayed, bring your own.  We went to the local COOP grocery store in Montelupo for all our supplies and then filled in with the local markets in nearby Cerbaia.  The food was amazing and the wine more amazing! The restaurant was great.  I would not hesitate to stay there again.

From here you can make day trips to Florence, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, etc.  They are beautiful drives through spectacular countryside.  A note of caution:  don't attempt to pack too many sights into one day.  The roads are winding and very beautiful.  Parking is not easy, so pick a destination and work your way there and back.  This is not a place to be on a tight schedule.

Best food in Florence for a casual meal =>Trattoria Za' Za' located in the Piazza del Mercado Central. 

If you want a great tasting of wine and olive oil, ask at the reception desk for an appointment to go to Fattorie Parri in Montespertoli – less than 30 minutes from the apartment.

General comments:

Our rental car was picked up at the airport in Rome and returned a week later to the train station in Rome.  VERY IMPORTANT:  The rental car desks are INSIDE the train terminal and you are expected to park your car outside at the curb and to take the keys in to the rental car counter.  The address on the rental agreement does not quite match up with the addresses on the buildings.  If we had been told to park the car at the curb and to bring the keys inside, we would have saved two hours of driving around the train terminal trying to find the rental car return location.

The international cell phone offered with the car rental was great.  Two of my traveling companions brought their personal cell phones and they did not work correctly.  Having the special cell phone made communication in Italy much easier.  We found we really needed to dial local telephone numbers during the trip.

The GPS rented from AutoEurope was a Godsend.  I can't imagine driving in Tuscany without it.  That little gizmo got us around the countryside flawlessly.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is planning to drive in Italy.

We used your booking service to arrange for private tour guides in Florence and in Rome.  This experience was well worth the investment. We did not have to wait in the extremely long lines to get our tickets nor did we have to contend with the large tour busses that tromped through each venue with the bored tour guide and a short time span. Instead, we had knowledgeable guides, who took us through the tour venues at our pace and gave us in-depth analysis of what we were seeing. We all agreed that it was a much better way to see some of the most important attractions.

Thank you again for all your help.   In Italy helped us to have the perfect vacation.

Sincerely,

Pam S.


Hello Jessica,

We had a very good time and there were no major surprises. All the units were comfortable and clean and the locations were very accurately described. The people who ran the Chanti Vistas were especially nice. There were some minor problems which were corrected but I could tell they felt really bad about them.

The car rental was a bit hairy as the gentleman I gave my voucher to seemed unprepared for me. But in the end it worked out. I used several of your suggestions for restaurants and they were good. The restaurant at Chianti Vistas was especially good, the best meal we had the whole trip.

Sincerely,

Robert M.


Dear Jessica:

Thanks for your email.  We had a wonderful time on our trip...we went with 2 children, ages 5 and 1, and live to tell!  Chianti Vistas was a delight to stay in...I don't think the pictures do it at all justice...some of the views are incredible and the apartment itself is very clean and spacious.  It was also very quiet, which we loved.  Our hosts, Gabriella and Stefano were very welcoming and extremely hospitable...the food at their restaurant was one of the best meals we had in Italy.  I don't know whether it was for us, or by chance, but there were a couple of ride-on toys in the courtyard that our kids really enjoyed..it was a real surprise to see them, but it was that little extra touch that made a difference.

Other guests have commented about the lack of any condiments, and buying things like toilet paper, etc.  I would only add that it is good to take small quantities of spices like salt, pepper,etc. in ziplocks for your use, or you end up buying a big box of salt and hardly use any. I would also bring little travel sized bottles of dishwashing liquid and some small soaps for the bathrooms. The list provided by you was excellent and I am glad I took most of those things...We happened to run into the hostess on laundry day and she was kind enough to provide detergent, otherwise that might be something else to bring along in a small bag. There is no dryer, so you dry your clothes on a drying rack with clothespins.  You might need to ask for the clothespins. Also, the capacity of the washer is small so don't plan to be washing heavy jeans and sweaters or they will take forever to dry.  We were there in the rainy season, so we just brought the whole drying rack into the apartment and let the clothes dry while the heat was on at night.

We made many day trips from the house...to Florence twice, to Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Radda, Cinque Terra (yes, we were able to do it in a day and back!) where Vernazza is not to be missed.

Thanks again for all the help that Kristin provided with our reservations.  The whole process was very smooth and there were no "hidden" charges...

Thanks again.

The Dewan Family


Dear David,

Yes we had a fantastic time, the accommodation was everything we expected and more. The restaurant at the winery was another bonus that we truly enjoyed. The meal was fantastic, the wine delicious and the service just perfect. We look forward to being able

to return sometime in the not too distant future.

Regards,

Kerry K.


David,

There is always a little trepidation booking and paying for a ten-day vacation on-line, but our fears were unfounded. Our trip went absolutely perfect. The accommodations and contacts were exactly as planned, pre-booked admissions reservations were waiting when we arrived, and the weather was magnificent (I'll even let you take credit for that).

While in Florence we stayed at out in the Tuscany countryside at Chianti Vistas, a very manageable ten kilometers west of the city. The property was essentially a small vineyard and winery, quiet, with breathtaking views. The accommodations were clean and comfortable. The restaurant on the grounds was excellent, featuring local fare at reasonable prices and their own estate bottled wines, the most expensive of which was about 7 euros. What a value! We did have a bit of trouble getting soap and TP from the proprietor on a Sunday, but that's nit picking. It provided a good excuse to drive to the local village to shop for supplies and meet people, who were friendly and helpful. We ate several meals in our villa, local cheeses, breads, meats, olives, fruit and wines. It doesn't get any better than that. The cost for the four of us was far less than what two hotel rooms would have been and far more enjoyable.

We rented a car for the week. Don't listen to those people who say it's too dangerous and that Italians are crazy drivers. They're not crazy, their very good drivers! I've rarely had so much fun behind the wheel. Do look out for those Vespas it seems everyone drives, and the occasional one-way street that suddenly turns one way in the other direction! Make sure you have several good maps!!!

Where we stayed was a perfect place to embark on a one day wine tour of Chianti. No need for a guide. Get a map, head towards Siena, and play it by ear. First, San Gimignano is worth a detour. We never made it to Siena itself, which was a disappointment. As you get into the heart of Chianti look for the roadside signs and stop by almost any winery (Enoteca). The proprietors will be thrilled to show you their wines and olive oils and even estate grown saffron at great prices. We stopped in the town of Greve, one of the four or five majors areas of Chianti, and shopped in a delightful wine shop. But be forewarned. Once out in the country you will not be able to find lunch after 2:00. The restaurants just shut down. Also, while the price of wine is very reasonable, the cost to ship it home makes up for it. However, there are no sulfites added to the wine until it gets to the US. So it just seems to taste better and not leave a hangover. Or maybe it seemed that way.

Finally, eating out. Meals are leisurely, and you cannot rush even if you wanted too because of the way they are served. Dinners last 2-3 hours, and your table is yours for the night. Portions are generally huge, but we all actually lost weight on the trip. Not sure if it was the Italian diet, pace of eating, or all the walking we did. Tipping is very confusing. Our first day in Florence I tried to tip the waitress and she stormed away and refused to speak to me when I tried to apologize. Some wait staff view this as their career and are paid as such by their employer. Others expect tips, and others include it on the bill. I'm not sure if there is a good rule of thumb to remember.

David, I cannot say enough good things about In Italy and your staff, particularly Jessica. The guidance and advice were invaluable and the service and responsiveness impeccable. Thank you for helping us enjoy a wonderful vacation.

Best regards,

Steve J.


Jessica,

Thank you for your help in arranging this holiday. Everything went according to plan. The accommodation was good with an excellent pool. The view from the site was superb. The only problem we had was finding a local restaurant, other than the one next door, that was open. We gave up in the end and used the BBQ. The only other comment is that after arriving on the Saturday the reception is then closed until Monday night, probably the time when you most need it. Recommended visit: The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, about 20 minutes drive away.

Regards
Tim S.


Dear David,

Thanks for your help with our reservations for Chianti Vistas. Both the accommodations and the view were wonderful. The restaurant was also very good. We spent a lot of time exploring towns in Tuscany and felt like this was a good location, easy on-off to the autostrada and the superstradas and roads near Chianti vistas were largely uncrowded, beautiful and easy.

We especially enjoyed Lucca and Siena and would highly recommend a visit to those towns to anyone.

Thank you so much for all your help - it made planning a first trip to Italy much easier and relatively stress-free.

Barbara F.


Jessica,

We had a wonderful trip and our apartment could not have been nicer. The view from all windows was breathtaking. The location was excellent for making day trips to small walled villages and only 15 minutes from Florence. The big surprise was the trattoria located across the drive from us. El Turco was a pleasant surprise, it was equivalent to a 4 star restaurant.

Thanks for helping make my birthday gift more than expected.

Regards,
Huey L. H.


Dear Jessica,

We had an absolutely fabulous stay! It was such a welcome change from the hotels we had been living in since arriving in Vienna two weeks prior. Especially with our two boys (11 and 7). The apartment was wonderfully appointed with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, brick ceilings and stone floors. As we were driving through the town of Cerbaia (following the awesome directions from In Italy) I looked up to the top of the hill and saw bright yellow poolside umbrellas which looked so inviting, I said to the family "doesn't that look fabulous" ... only to discover it was Chianti Vistas!

You had sent me an extremely informative email you had received from other clients mentioning the fact that the owners treat these as apartments rather than a hotel and providing a list of items necessary to take. That was a God-send. I took every item on the list and didn't just need them in Tuscany but all through our travels. Thank you so much for all the fabulous information and unbelievably detailed driving directions to get to Chianti Vistas.

We can highly recommend the restaurant there. The food is fabulous and the breathtaking view is over the neighboring valley, as the whole property actually saddles the mountain. Also, there is a little restaurant in Montagnana (on the left hand side as you're driving in) which has wonderful food and will do take-out of not just pizza but also their pasta dishes. Unfortunately, they are only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Also, there is a co-op in Montelupa which is open from 8:00 am until 9:00 pm !!! (incredible considering absolutely everything else closes from 12:30 pm until 5:00 for siesta).

One word of caution, the fridges are extremely small and not cold enough, so milk is something you need to buy almost daily or it curdles. Also, because of the size of the fridge don't "stock up" before you arrive or you won't be able to store it. They do have American coffee makers and you can now buy American-style ground coffee beans in the stores, so you don't have to worry about taking instant coffee from home.

I have recommended In Italy to many, many people both here in Canada and during our travels. You have been absolutely marvelous and all our car rentals went perfectly as planned too. Thank you, thank you!

Until next time!

Best regards,
Roslyn M. and family


Dear Jessica,

Our trip went smoothly. Only negative was the weather which was HOT. According to the people we spoke with locally, many of the cities were unofficially experiencing the warmest temperatures in the last hundred years.

Chianti Vistas was fine and we enjoyed our stay. Good location, very friendly and helpful people, fabulous views, a great restaurant, and wonderful wine. The ability to get to Florence from Cerbaia by bus rather than driving was a real plus for us. Driving to other places such as Vinci, Pisa and Lucca was easy, although we have to confess to getting slightly lost once we got in to the cities. We were not shy about asking for directions and, although we do not know Italian, one way or another we were able to communicate. Everyone we spoke to was very anxious to help, friendly and very patient with us.

As far as the apartment itself, we were pretty well oriented before we arrived, thanks to the comments and descriptions which are on your web site. We found the kitchen more than adequate for our needs (although the refrigerator was marginal with respect to keeping milk cool).

The extensive data made available by InItaly is extremely helpful. Many thanks.

Gerry and Jim F.


Ciao Jessica!

What a wonderful holiday in Italy! Our second visit to Chianti Vistas was as we remembered it....wonderful! We were there for ten days and enjoyed every minute. The restaurant is excellent as is the Il Turco wine from their own vineyards. March weather was sunny and dry, not a drop of rain during the entire stay. The farm is a perfect base of operations to discover the wonders of Toscana. We managed to put 1,700km on our little 973cc Opal Corsa. However, driving in Italy, particularly visiting the hill towns, is not for the faint hearted. Seems every one is a frustrated Scuderia Ferrari reject. Since our accommodations had a well-equipped kitchen, we did a lot of cooking and rarely ate our evening meal out. It was hard to break our habit of early supper. The restaurant was only open Wednesday through Sunday and didn't begin serving until 8PM. Cerbia, the nearest town, has three groceries. However, we discovered the "CO-OP" supermarkets with huge selections of everything at very reasonable prices. (Compared to the small stores in Cerbia.) There is a CO-OP in San Casciano, only about 6km from Cerbia, just off of the "Fi-Si" (Firenze - Siena) super strada. Since we spent five days in Firenze totally immersed in medieval and Renaissance art and history, using public transportation and hoofing it, our time in the country side and particularly the ancient hill towns, was a pleasant change of pace. Our limited Italian was never a problem. Our host was charming and most helpful. We couldn't have asked for nicer accommodations and would be pleased to recommend Chianti Vistas to anyone who wishes to explore Toscana. Thanks to In Italy for once again arranging our visit. By the way, the map we purchased from you was invaluable for its detail. We were never lost!

Bill and Fran C.


Thank you Kirill!

Chianti Vistas was a great experience. Our hosts were gracious and helpful even though they were not available all the time. The restaurant was superb! We ate there 3 times. Good Chianti reserve and dinner for two for less than $60. The wine would cost that in the US.

In Italy user comments were right on! The property was as advertised. We took the backroad to Florence three days and parked in Plaza Michaelangelo (free) - a nice walk along the Arno to the city in the morning and took a taxi back (uphill) in the PM (make sure the driver turns back the meter to about 2 euros at the start - one of ours started at 4.5 euros).

We had two holidays in our week (April-May) and had no trouble finding something open. Driving was easier than expected (although you must pay attention every second). Our only problem was the road signs - you would come around a corner and come to an intersection with 30 signs and had to put your car somewhere fast.

We didn't learn any Italian before we left but we got along easily anyway. We reserved tickets for Uffizi, Accademia and Pitti Palace but only needed them for the Uffizi. I wish we could have gotten tickets for the Vatican (1 hour wait). We spent a week in Rome, a week at Chianti Vistas, and four days at Lake Maggiore - a perfect vacation.

Thanks again,
Bob & Jesslyn


Dear Jessica,

Thanks for the follow up. We had a really nice time in Italy. Chianti Vistas was really nice. The views from the house were amazing. The host was very nice also. The best part about the place was that it was only about a 15-minute drive to Florence. We didn't have any problem driving to Florence. The first day was a little difficult. After driving around for about 20 minutes we found a parking lot from where we could easily walk to the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. The parking lot charged between $10-$15 dollars depending on how long we were there each day which ranged from 5-8 hours. Chianti Vistas is in a small town called Cerbaia from where there is also a bus that goes straight to the center of Florence. But because we were traveling with a baby, it was easier to drive (we had a stroller and baby bag, etc.).

I am glad I found your site. I was a little hesitant of booking a rental house over the Internet but we were very happy that it turned out to be such delightful place to stay. Thanks.

Laila & Steve K.


Dear Julie,

Well, I have to say that all the great comments about Chianti Vistas are true. It is a beautiful place run by wonderful people. It has old world charm with all the modern conveniences. One thing I'd like to warn future visitors about is that there are no restaurants open until 8pm. We found that hard to get used to. Due to this, we found that the grocery store in Cerbaia (next to the bank in the center of town) has great pizza. Get there at 5pm for fresh pizza or they can warm it up in the microwave for you. Also, there is a grocery store across the roundabout that has fresh made pasta and pasta sauce that you can take home and reheat. Many people mention that the closest grocery is in Cerbaia. That's not necessarily true. Montagnana has an Alimentari (grocery) very close to the apartments. When leaving the apartments towards Cerbaia, take a right on the paved road (towards Montagnana) instead of left (towards Cerbaia). Vertical sign reading Alimentari on the right less than a mile away. They have all the requirements, including "mom's" fresh pasta. We can't wait to get back to Tuscany and stay at Chianti Vistas again.

Bartley and Brenda B.


Dear Jessica,

Chianti Vistas was everything we hoped for in character and amenities. I would warn non-Italian speaking guests, specifically Americans, to get instructions on working the washing machine. It took an average of 3 hours to do a load and I am sure it was entirely my fault! Only met Cristiano once but Manrico was very gracious and kind and even gave us a bottle of champagne our last night at the restaurant because of our birthdays! It was exquisite! As was the restaurant itself, in character by far my favorite of all we visited in Italy. The automobile was terrific! Ron really got Italian driving, but now he's home he's his normal pokey self. I would advise future guests of the co-op's in Montepulo and Signa Lastra and San Casciano. Food was very reasonable and abundant and the wine prices were incredible. Perhaps not as charming as the individual grocers but definitely good for the budget. I would definitely visit Chianti Vistas again, and Ron absolutely fell in love with Tuscany. Please pass our appreciation on to Manrico next time you are in touch with him. Also, we recommend guests staying there and planning day trips to Florence park at the Plaza San Michaelangelo and walk down the hill and across the Arno into the city. Getting in and out of Florence that way saved us a LOT of headaches trying to negotiate the roundabouts etc.

Regards!
Ron, Marsha Cliff & Erna B.


Jessica,

First of all let me say that In Italy was a tremendous help with me and my family having a wonderful and memorable vacation in ITALY. The staff at In Italy was very helpful and the tips I got from the message board were excellent.

So let me add my comments.

1) Chianti Vistas was absolutely fabulous. Cristiano and his father were very gracious hosts. We ate in the restaurant on the property the first night and it was excellent. Their Chianti Reserve was one of the best wines we had during the entire trip. The room we stayed in was very spacious and had everything we needed. As suggested we stopped in Cerbaia on the way there and bought some supplies. The grocery store in town was well stocked and had almost everything. During the week in Tuscany we found a COOP in San Casciano and a large supermarket in Poggi Bonzi. Cerbaia had a nice vegetable/fruit market that we visited several times.

2) Restaurants - As other visitors have noted it is difficult at times to find a restaurant open and will take you without a reservation. We found a few restaurants that we would like to share. Fiore Ristorante in Scandicci (Tel 055/768.678) was great. Trattoria Anita in Florence was a find, great food reasonably priced (Tel. 055/218.698). I would also suggest that a list of local restaurants with phone numbers would be very helpful. In the morning we went into Cerbaia to the local CAFE and had Cappuccino and danish. Finding something open on Sunday and Monday is a challenge so we decided to make our own meals and it was great.

3) Sights - A car is a MUST in Tuscany. Our first week in Italy was on the Amalfi coast and we used public transportation. In Tuscany we visited Siena, Pisa and Florence. Siena was preparing for the race, which was exciting. Pisa was fun as it was a sight the kids knew. In Florence if you plan to visit the Uffizzi or Academia it is a must to make reservations in advance. I had little problems driving around Tuscany except for Florence where the street names change every block. In Florence I would suggest parking outside the main area and walk, we parked at the Medici Hotel. We also visited San Gimignano which is a must see. I suggest getting a good map before the trip and this will make getting around Tuscany very easy. Plan on spending at least one day if not more at Chianti Vistas. The views from the pool area are fantastic.

4) Friends - We met several families and now have new friends in different parts of the world. My 10 year old made friends with a girl from Belgium who only spoke French. It was interesting seeing them communicate all week but when we left they promised to keep in touch. We also met a family from Canada living in Germany as well as 2 families from the US. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and we all shared our experiences with the others.

5) I would recommend Chianti Vistas to anyone, but if you have kids traveling with you it is the best. I am looking forward to my next trip to Italy and will surely us In Italy to help me.

Thanks Again
R. & V. P.


Dear Jessica,

Everything in Italy was wonderful. It was a wonderful and memorable vacation. We had a delightful stay at Chianti Vistas. Both Cristiano and Manrico were very friendly and hospitable hosts. The accommodations were very comfortable and the vistas beautiful. The closest town, Cerbaia, just three miles, had grocery stores that were more than ample for our needs. Cristiano advised us that the best public transportation to Florence was a bus that ran from Cerbaia. We took the bus, about a 45-minute ride from Cerbaia to Florence, on two days. Tickets are purchased at the Bar across from the Bus stop. We purchased ours the day before, since we took an early bus. On one evening we ate at the Restaurant at Chianti Vistas. The food and the service were excellent.

Joe B.


Dear Jessica,

If it weren't for the 14 hour flight, I would return to Italy tomorrow! Does that answer your question about my trip? This is my third trip to Italy, the other two being tours. This was much more fun to plan, and to be able to stay more than a night or two in one place. Chianti Vistas was a delight. I loved getting up each morning and looking out over the vineyards and olive groves, all the way to little towns amongst the hills. The hosts were so friendly and accommodating. Their restaurant was "understated" in your site. Wonderful food, served beautifully, and we had such fun translating the menu, or interpreting the server's explanation. Both Cristiano and his most gracious father were helpful any time needed. The apartment was as advertised--clean, simple, but very in tune with the surroundings, and plenty of dishes. There was a very thin cat roaming around, and being an animal person, I fed it some milk. Then I found out our neighbors were supplying it with cat food a couple of times a day, and another visitor allowed it in their apartment to "relax"!! (I also saw the cat go into the vineyard and catch its own food). That cat was really playing all of us!!

My only caveat would be to bring salt and pepper, if you like to season things. There was none in the apartment, and as a matter of fact, very few restaurants and trattorias provided salt. The food was seasoned beautifully with herbs and wine, but, as with many Americans, we are used to a bit more salt.

Ciao,
Susan B.


Dear Cynthia,

Thank you for your follow-up enquiry. Yes, we had a really wonderful holiday in Tuscany. We would like to say how impressed we are with your warm, speedy and efficient customer service - congratulations to all involved!

Chianti Vistas was all we expected it to be and more. The apartment was spacious and the kitchen area had good quality pans and hob. The bed was huge and comfortable and there was plenty of storage space. All the fittings and furnishings were of very good quality and everything worked! Our outlook through the french doors was towards the pool which was a lovely place to sit and admire the views. Cristiano was very courteous, friendly and helpful and clearly wanted us to enjoy our holiday. We ate several times at the restaurant and enjoyed the food, service and atmosphere.

Could it be improved? Yes- the only easy chair was a large rigid sofa-bed which really needed 2 or 3 big cushions to be at all comfy. (We used rolled up pool towels which we had taken with us) A small addition, which would have made a significant difference. Also, although the weather was mainly very warm and sunny, the pool was unheated and uncovered and so very, very cold last week in September/first week in October!

Things we found out from our trip:

It was a lovely 20 min drive into Florence via Cerbaia/ Chiesanuova/Galluzzo to Piazzale Michaelangelo a great place for free parking and panoramic views over Florence. Dropping down into Galluzzo, the road had some tortuous bends but the view of the terracotta cupola of the cathedral rising from the valley was well worth it!

Drivers in Tuscany are mostly very patient and tolerant of the idiocies of other drivers, pedestrians and animals! We were amazed at the calmness of drivers in situations which would have resulted in honking and cursing in the UK!

Radar speed traps on the road from Florence to Pisa airport on a Saturday morning just when you have got used to the idea that it is customary to ignore speed limits!

Buy a bus ticket BEFORE getting on the bus at T sign tobacconist/newsagents. The 2000 lire 1 HOUR ticket is valid on any bus in Florence on any date - insert it into a franking machine on the bus to time and date stamp it and you can use it as many times as you want to WITHIN THE HOUR. (There is also a 3 HOUR ticket for longer visits )

Chiaroscuro, Via delle Torri, Florence (tel o55 7321718) www.chiaroscuro.it is a lovely intimate, wood-panelling- and- chandeliers coffee house with excellent wines by the glass, good snacks and cakes and fabulous dark, rich bitter hot chocolate drinks and excellent service.

San Casciano (17 km south of Florence and a few kms from Cerbaia along a road with wonderful views!) has a very good COOP supermarket on the outskirts with easy parking. The restaurant/hotel at L Antica Post in Piazza Zannoni serves excellent food with first class service- and children really are welcome. Reservations are obligatory tel 055 822 313.

And finally when it rains in autumn, it really hammers down! Take a fold-up umbrella and waterproof cover-up plus shoes that will dry out quickly and do the museums that day!

Best Wishes,
Angela F.


Dear Julie:

We have just returned from a two-week stay at Chianti Vistas which we selected after reading comments from past guests who sent their thoughts to InItaly. It was very pleasant, the accommodations clean, light and roomy (at least for the two of us) though a touch Spartan in the decor department. This was not our first trip to Tuscany so we did not require much in the way of guidance from our hosts, but whatever we asked was charmingly handled by Cristiano. The on site ristorante was not only convenient (particularly in view of the relative paucity of options in the immediate area) but also served excellent food in an elegantly rustic setting. However, the most appealing aspect, in our view, was the other guests whom we met and with whom we spent many pleasant hours (after a day of "doing Tuscany") by the pool or dining in the evening. One caveat for prospective guests: Be prepared to bring with you or purchase in the nearby town of Cerbaia most of the necessities of daily life. You will find only the bare essentials in your apartment and even those will not be resupplied. If you need more than the one roll of TP that's in the bathroom when you check in you'll have to buy it and you will find nary a suspicion of soap, either for the bathroom or kitchen. You will be requested, understandably, to bring your trash up to the roadside bin daily, but you will not be given any plastic trash liners beyond the initial ones. However each trip to the market provides at least one plastic bag! Of course, none of the above detracted from our enjoyment, but we just thought it might help others if they were forewarned.

What a long-winded discourse. Scusi!

Grazie
Martha & David M.


Dear Kristin,

We can't stop talking about our wonderful experience in Tuscany and particularly at Chianti Vistas. The photos online do not do it justice!! We are already discussing how and when we can go back!! The view from our apartment and especially the pool area is nothing short of spectacular!! It was so breathtaking that at times I would look out and get the feeling that someone had just painted this backdrop. The apartment itself was charming, clean, spacious and comfortable. We also loved the restaurant on the premise!! The portions were huge, food was delicious and we enjoyed their own wine. It was also very reasonable!!

We felt that the location was ideal for day trips. We travelled to Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Florence, Viareggio (beaches), Lucca and Monetecatini. We always had time to return for at least a couple of hours to enjoy the pool (during July there is daylight until 10:00pm). The kids really loved it and they enjoyed making friends with the other children there. As a matter of fact, we all met some very nice and interesting families. On our last night, 5 families all went out to a pizzeria together.

We would like to thank all those who wrote in with suggestions about what to bring! They were right!! We also have a few suggestions/comments that we would like to share.

  1. It would be very helpful for guests if there was a list of local restaurants/pizzerias, their phone #, address and a schedule of when they are open. Being out in the country, there are very few restaurants that are close by. We and the other families had trouble finding a restaurant that was open on a monday and tuesday night. In addition, on other nights, without a reservation most of the restaurants would not accept walkins. This was very frustrating. Even though our host, Christiano was most helpful, he was not around very often and the office was closed more than it was open. So, I feel that since there is not a staff at your disposal, there could be more written information on restaurants, local stores, local markets, hours of operation, etc.
  2. Even though we knew that the rooms were not air conditioned, we were not warned how hot it would be. We had to go out and search for fans. One of the problems was that we were advised by Cristiano to keep our windows and doors shut and locked both during the day when we weren't there and at night while sleeping because there had been a robbery the week before. It is very rare, but it can happen anywhere. So we couldn't even get any fresh air flowing through the apartment. So guests should be prepared to bring or buy some fans if it is a hot week.
  3. With families, the best places to eat are the pizzerias (they have much more than just pizza). They are more affordable and more comfortable with children. (We never had a bad meal in Italy!!!) There is 1 pizzeria in Montagnana (turn right out of the dirt road and the town is about 1/2 mile up the hill - if you blink you'll miss the town). This pizzeria is on the left. We heard that it was great but we got there after 8:00 and they were full. So get there before 8:00 or make a reservation. They are closed on Mondays. In Cerbaia (turn left out of the dirt road and this larger town is about 1-2 miles down the hill), there is also a pizzeria which was very good (Also closed on Monday). We heard a lot about a wonderful restaurant in Cerbaia which is supposed to be renowned for its wine but it was too expensive and not appropriate for a family with kids. Cerbaia also had a couple of nice little markets for groceries and a great fruit and vegetable store. We went to these stores frequently and the staff were all very helpful and friendly. If you really need a larger citylike town with major stores, hospitals, etc. you would have to go to Empoli which is the next exit off the autostrada that runs between Florence and Lucca. We rented a wheelchair there for my handicapped father. In San Gimignano, we recommend a fabulous restaurant called "La Griglia". The food was wonderful and the view spectacular. Try the local specialty, riboletta (a stew/soup made with white beans, tomatoes, spinach, cabbage).
  4. We also took a ride to Montesportoli which is a cute little hilltop town, looking for a restaurant that was open, but to no avail. This was about a 20 minute ride along a very scenic route. (This was on a monday). Try it another day, it looked like a nice town.
  5. The night that all 6 families dined together, we found a great pizzeria in San Casciano val di pesa (This is the town before you get on the autostrada to Siena). I don't remember the name of the pizzeria, but it was in the pedestrian section on a corner.
  6. I would say that just about everything at the Chianti Vistas was better than our expectations. The one exception was the laundry facilities. This was a bit misleading. There is one tiny little washing machine on the premises which can wash only a few items at a time. In addition, after the wash cycle, it had to be manually reset to drain the water. This was time consuming. This small machine is supposed to serve 10 apartments. So we ended up handwashing most of our laundry.
  7. In Florence, one of the best things we did was to reserve our tickets to the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia (the David is here) online through INITALY. We bypassed a line that wrapped around the entire museum. Without our reservation, we would never have waited in that line in the heat!! It is so simple to reserve tickets online.
  8. We were surprised at how spread out Tuscany really is. I had planned to visit other places but we just ran out of time!! Be sure to pace yourself and choose only a few places to visit because you really want to enjoy the relaxing environment of Chianti Vistas too.

We look forward to our next visit and we encourage anyone considering this podere not to hesitate. You will love it!!!

Lori Kashgegian
Burlington, MA


Dear Julie:

Sorry I hadn't written before, but we just returned from our trip. After our wonderful stay at Chianti Vistas, we went to other parts of Italy and France. Chianti Vistas far exceed our expectations. First of all, the accommodations were far more charming than the pictures showed. They were immaculately clean and comfortable. Everything we needed had been provided. There were plenty of dishes and silverware.( Some previous residents had mentioned the need to bring additional silverware which I did and found it unnecessary). The setting was spectacular. The views from our windows looked like a movie set! The location was perfect as we were able to take day trips all over Tuscany and easily reach Florence by bus, train and car. Nowhere did we see any scenery more beautiful than right outside our door. Although we did want to try various restaurants in the area, there is an excellent one on the property. It was marvelous to have the option of eating up the hill when we were tired from sight-seeing and didn't want to cook or drive. The wine they produce was very good and we brought home as much as we could carry. (People should also know that there is a four star restaurant in Cerbaia which is very close.)

Cristiano and his father were wonderful. They could not have been nicer or more helpful. They really went out of their way to ensure that we were happy and comfortable. In fact, everyone on the staff was friendly and hospitable. In short, our stay was fabulous. I would not hesitate to recommend it. In fact we plan on returning ourselves. Thank you for your help in making the arrangements.

Sincerely,
Norma H.


Cynthia,

A large group of us just returned from the Tuscany region, specifically Chianti Vistas. This was the BEST vacation I have ever taken in my life. The pictures do not justify the beauty of the villa. Cristiano was charming, full of fun and very informative. His family run ristorante was spectacular. We not only enjoyed the fantastic food but the happy hour was too much fun. He had a wine tasting the first night we arrived--we drank every kind of wine he produced and then some!!! Funny we weren't invited back??!!! All kidding aside, a week of laughing, drinking wonderful wine and cooking in the villa using our newly acquired cooking skills, from a cooking class in Figlini, we were invincible. Thank goodness for the Italian stepmasters (the towers of Italy). We will definitely return--lookout Cristiano!!

Jan W.


Hi Cynthia,

The trip was fantastic! We thoroughly enjoyed Italy, and already plan to go back. Chianti Vistas was fantastic! The villa's setting is beautiful...the pictures on the web don't do it justice. The restaurant on the property was excellent. We ate there 3 times in one week, and found the menu wonderful every time. The wine they produce on the vineyard there was very good too. Cristiano was a gracious host and he and the rest of the staff there were very friendly and had a good sense of humor. The restaurant in town was incredible! We had no idea when we went in that it was one of the 5 best restaurants in all of Italy. Definitely worth it for the food and service. The Our group of 7 people all had a blast, and all of us plan to come back to Chianti Vistas again.

Overall, this was a fantastic trip with few regrets!
Debbie B.


Cynthia,

We had a wonderful trip and loved everything about Chianti Vistas and the region. Our apartment was very comfortable and Cristiano was gracious and helpful. I was surprised by how beautiful the view from Chianti Vistas was and how relaxing it was to spend time at the pool after doing lots of sightseeing. I was also pleased that it was so easy to drive into Florence and park at the Michealangelo Plaza and take the bus down the hill into the centro. We took the "back roads" in and we never had to fight Florence traffic that way or look for parking.

I only regret that we didn't have more time to see more of the many small towns of the Tuscany area. Each one we went to was interesting, had good restaurants and interesting sites. The road through the Chianti region to Siena was particularly beautiful. Pisa was also close and the kids enjoyed seeing the Leaning Tower.

Thank you for your help in planning. The maps and the directions that you supplied were very good and our hosts in both places were extremely kind and accommodating.

Sincerely,
Claudia C.


Dear Jessica,

Thank you so much for your help in organizing our trip to Italy. Our best experience - ever - was our stay at Chianti Vistas. Our hosts were hospitable and helpful, yet afforded us all of the privacy we needed. We were surprised to find that they had recently opened a little "risorante" on the premises. The food there was simple, fresh, and delicious, and proved to be some of the best we had sampled (although we can honestly say we never had one bad meal in all of Italy!) It was so convenient to simply walk up the hill for dinner after our long days of sightseeing. Although their waiter did not speak one word of English, he was always attentive and had the greatest personality. The wine, olive oil, and Vin Santo that they sell there is also excellent.

Our other favorite meal was one that we prepared ourselves, after a visit to one of the local outdoor markets! Our kitchen was well stocked with all of the pots & pans & dishes necessary. By the way, we found your online list of things to bring invaluable. I would also add to that list a small can of Lysol (as the bathroom was damp and at times smelled mildewy), and a Brillo-type pad with which to scrub pots, if one intends to cook.

Lastly, I would like to tell you how much we appreciated meeting Michael in Rome. The three hours which we spent together were enlightening and fun, and I highly recommend his tours to all, especially if you are like us, and do not remember a bit of history!

Sincerely,
Jill H.


Dear Kristin:

I just wanted to thank you for your help in selecting Chianti Vistas. We loved the place and the area. We had a two bedroom apartment and it was everything we were expecting and more. The view from the pool area at night was fantastic.

The horseriding available down the road is a great way to see rural Tuscany. The owner doesn't speak any English, but that was no problem. Our hosts were happy to help set it up. We also would recommend the small restaurant there. The food was good and the service was the best we had anywhere. They have very good reasonably priced wine.

Also, the rental car arrangements you made were perfect. We had to argue with the Avis person in Rome to give us the right vehicle (He knowingly wanted to con us in a smaller car, claiming it was correct) but assurance that we didn't want that car and a tour of his parking lot left him with no more options! Get the Alfa Romeo 156 - it's a nice car!!!

Again, thank you very much for your help on our trip. I will recommend your services to everyone I talk to that is planning on going to Italy.

Greg Z.


Cynthia,

We had an amazing trip and the highlight was our stay in Tuscany and Chianti Vistas. It was wonderful to stay in one place for a week and explore the beauty of the Tuscan region. The people were warm and friendly. We had a great time shopping for our meals in the town of Cerbaia as we came to know local shop owners (my husbands 5 years of Italian in high school came in handy and he was good!). The countryside was stunning and we were able to see the harvesting of the grapes. Cristiano was a wonderful host and it was fun to buy his family's wine and olive oil from him. I will definitely recommend Chianti Vistas to anyone going to Italy. Thanks for your hard work in finding us a place to stay in Tuscany.

Ciao!
Natalie B


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