This place is very good value for money and was a beautiful relaxing place to enjoy for the last 5 days at the end of our 2 week holiday in Italy, but we wanted to make sure people were aware that there is some misleading information out there about the facilities, so we want to make sure that if you are planning to go there without a car, there are a few things to be aware of with regards to buses and local amenities.
We arrived in the afternoon off the train from Florence to Siena (an hour and 6 Euros each) - the train station is closer than the bus station to both check-in hotel (Lo Stellino)and L'Aia, although we decided to get a taxi from station to Lo Stellino due to it being hot and the route being a bit of a climb. It would have probably taken us 20 - 30 mins to walk from the train station to Lo Stellino, or 30 minutes to the centre of Siena in the other direction. From Lo Stellino, it did look walkable to L'Aia, although part of it along fast roads with no pavement to speak of. We didn't try it, but if we had to, we reckon we could have walked from Lo Stellino to L'Aia in about 20 minutes - not too bad.
When we arrived at Lo Stellino, I was under the impression from what I had read on websites that a) they would take us to L'Aia if we didn't have our own transport, b) there was a shop in Via Uopini round the corner from the accomodation, c) there was a pizzeria around the corner from the accommodation and d) there were regular buses to and from Siena. (You can guess what's coming, can't you?)
When we got to Lo Stellino to check-in, the receptionist asked if we had our own transport, and as we hadn't, she told us that we would need to get a taxi to the accomodation - good job we';d managed to get more cash out at the train station! It had surprised us just how expensive taxis are in Italy, as they charge you coming out of or into a city and for luggage too - this one had been about 10 Euros I think. What was also a little disheartening is when I asked about the pizzeria and shop, she said that they had both closed so she recommended that we bought everything we needed from the supermarket around the corner from Lo Stellino before we made our way to L'Aia. What's more, when I asked about buses, she really wasn't sure which bus you could get there and how often they were - apparently the timetable had changed a few months before and she didn't have a new one. Now you can imagine that as I had thought I had found somewhere that 'had it all' - i.e. was set in beautiful Tuscan countryside in the peace and quiet, yet was still accessible without hiring a car to Siena and the rest of Tuscany, and had nearby provisions - that this was disappointing! However, the saving grace was that as we were staying for 4 nights, they had moved us to an appartment instead of the bed and breakfast, so at least we had a kitchen to cook our own meals as we weren't keen on the idea of spending 30 euros each night on a taxi getting into Siena for a meal.
However!! All was not lost - and I don't want anyone to disregard this place because of the misleading information out there. Once I got over the lack of ammenities, and we had been to the supermarket and stocked up on pasta, sauce and salad, we actually started to get excited about our little self-catering retreat, and it was certainly a wonderful place to stay, once we had worked out transport links and how we would work things with meals,etc.
It turned out that the 36 bus goes from just outside the back of the canteen where you have breakfast and the current times into Siena are every couple of hours, so we managed to catch the 9.51 bus each morning into Siena which worked very well, getting us to the centre for around 10.10, just before most of the tourists arrived and before it got too hot. The last bus back to L'Aia is at 8.15 pm in the summer, so the day we did the wine tour in Chianti and got back for just after that, we had to get a taxi, which you don't mind doing now and again.
So, back to the accomodation - it is very peaceful, set in a 'working' olive grove, with bee-eaters and hoopes flying around (for those interested in birds), a lovely swimming pool overlooking the hills of vineyards and we watched the sun setting behind them each night, with the bee-eaters flying overhead - superb! When we arrived, we had the whole site to ourselves, and even when there were other people about, it still felt very private and quiet. The accomodation was basic but very clean and had everything we needed (except washing up liquid!). The TV is satellite but had no English channels. There is a little hut in the grounds where you can go on the internet providing no-one else got there first, and outdoor games for you to use. In our room, the air conditioning was very old and switched itself off after a while as it overheated, as we couldn't get it back on again, so it was a bit too hot on one or two of the nights. The breakfast was self-service and adequate, and we did see a maid around one or two of the days.
I would highly recommned this place, even if you don't have your own transport - just do a little extra forward planning and you'll be fine if you are in an appartment. I'm not sure how we would have managed if we didn't have our own kitchen - I guess we'd have been forced to use a taxi each night to go out for dinner, or would have had to bring bread rolls back to the room to eat and supermarkets in the centre of Siena are really tricky to find, although there are quite a few bakeries.
We had seen someone else's comments about L'Aia that if you had an early check-out on the morning of departure, then they recommended paying when you checked in, so we did so as our train to Pisa on the morning of departure was leaving at about 8.30 am. I also recommend booking your taxi for departure when you check in as well, as the receptionist I called to book our taxi for departure could not speak English very well and I wasn't sure the taxi would actually turn up in the morning!
If you want to know anymore about this beautiful place, do send me an e-mail - happy to answer queries!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- L’Aia Country Holidays, only 1 km far from Siena, consists of a delightful group of lovingly renovated farm buildings and offer you the best of the both worlds, with the atmosphere and views of the Tuscan countryside coupled with the convenience of Siena pretty much on your door step…At L’Aia Country Holidays you’ll find a big park of olive trees with play for kids, soccer and volley, a swimming pool 6x12 meters and the possibility to rent bikes. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- L'Aia Residence Monteriggioni, Italy - Tuscany