Country, House Parties, Interiors

Vacation Rental of the Week: Il Castello (The Castle)

August 1, 2013 • By

This is one of my all time favorite rentals – but I admit it is not for everyone.  My husband and I booked this ancient Italian castle for his birthday, gathering here with thirteen friends to enjoy a few evenings of opera at the Arena di Verona, do some sightseeing, swimming and relaxing with lots of homemade food and Italian wine.

I loved our vacation rental, but a couple of of our friends were less than enthusiastic about it.

I wanted to tell you about it anyway – and you can decide for yourself if this is the kind of place you’d stay. I highly recommend it, but with caveats (listed at the end of this post).

Reception Hall - Il Castello in Villa Bartholomeo

Reception Hall – Il Castello in Villa Bartholomeo

How could anyone not love a vintage, rambling villa in the Italian countryside, you ask?

For one thing, this home is very, very old – and it hasn’t been updated, either.  I, for one, loved it – even the slightly “ruined” feel of the flaking plaster.  I loved the obvious age of everything, the archaic little kitchen and the overgrown yard.  The doves who have taken over the eaves above the front door were somewhat disconcerting and their droppings were not charming.  That I admit. And the garden needed some tending.

But only in certain areas. Just outside our front door, everything was lovely.

Il Castello - A 15th Century Villa Near Verona

Il Castello – A 15th Century Villa Near Verona

The rooms were large, the mood was relaxing, the linens were spotless.

A Bedroom at Il Castello

A Bedroom at Il Castello

The pool was sparkling clean and refreshing on hot afternoons. More importantly, we enjoyed our time together.  At night we cooked, or walked to dinner at nearby trattorias, which were exceptional.  We explored all the nearby towns.

My Friend MacLaine Enjoying the Pool at the Villa

My Friend MacLaine Enjoying the Pool at the Villa

The bedrooms at Il Castello are large. In the European tradition, a few of us didn’t get rooms with private baths.  I was one of those and I didn’t mind that part of our stay, either.  We shared a bathroom with another couple and it was never a problem.  Our bathroom was huge, with arched, cathedral-style windows that opened out three-stories above the garden.  There was a large, vintage bathtub and lovely tile work.

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Il Castello also features several large living areas, including a reception hall with a huge fireplace. There are two kitchens, with conveniences – ‘though not completely modernized. There was not much counter space. But there was a huge window looking out over the garden and I, for one, enjoyed cooking there.

A massive wooden staircase leads from the sitting rooms to the bedrooms upstairs.  There are heavy wooden beams, wide hallways and leaded glass windows.  One dining room comfortably seats twelve, and there is an equally long table in another room.  Just outside the gates, there were excellent walking and biking paths.

Il Castelo is located in a tiny village called Villa Bartholomeo, and it was nice to walk or bicycle into town for breakfast pastries, coffee and the Friday farmer’s market.

The light was lovely and changed throughout the day

The light was lovely and changed throughout the day

 

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, by Jan Vermeer

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, by Jan Vermeer

What I loved most about Il Castello was the light.

Sometimes, when I wandered into the large parlor or dining room late in the day, I felt as if I had stepped into a living Vermeer painting.

I recommend this villa if you’re drawn to holiday rentals and experiences that are authentic and evocative, even if slightly rough at the edges.

Go if you crave rustic charm, and a romantic if slightly melancholic atmosphere.  Go if you have an adventurous spirit.  Don’t go if you prefer a brand new Holiday Inn Express along the interstate – you won’t be happy.

Vacation Rental Logistics:  The layout is great for large groups or families. The location is good.  Although very rural, you’re about 35 minutes from Verona, 90 minutes from Venice and 40 minutes from Lago di Garda.  There are grocery stores nearby for stocking the kitchen, and parking is plentiful on the grounds.

Holiday Villa in Italy

I booked this vacation rental, Il Castello, through HomeAway.com – the link is here.