As we are new to renting this apartment out, and do not yet have any reviews, we are initially only asking for half the rate that we eventually intend on charging. You can have a look at the reviews on the other property we rent out on HomeAway - We realise that the two properties themselves could not be more different, but the reviews of our London flat should give you an example of how we hope to treat our guests.
Thank you for looking at our family home. Although we spend 11 months a year, in the UK every August we come home.
The house is divided into three separate, self contained apartments. We are starting off by renting out the top floor apartment (which has the best views) as an experiment to see how it goes. We are not doing this for profit or as a business. We are just interested in covering the maintenance costs (which are not small) and the local taxes (which are even less small - this is Italy....)
Every coin has two sides. So if on one hand, we are not looking to maximise our profits on this, it is equally true that we are not willing to take in any old guest just to earn more money. We want to give honest, fair and clean accommodation to honest, fair and clean guests. Noisy, difficult, or fussy guests are politely advised to look elsewhere for a better match.
Our family has lived in the village of San Michele for over 400 years without getting into any fights with any of the other families, and we want to keep it that way. While our house is outside the main village, we do have the loveliest neighbours (Luigina, Marino and Simona and boys) that anyone could dream of and we do not want them disturbed. Anyone looking for somewhere to have a busy, noisy holiday with loud late night parties is well advised to look somewhere else.
(For the sake of avoiding any doubt, we've read horror stories about AirBNB properties being rented under false IDs to host raves - if anything like that happened our neighbours are under strict instructions to call the local Carabinieri [military police] ASAP. Most Italians are very friendly, warm, and charming. Carabinieri are not.)
We won't be renting in the month of August, when we will be around. So it is virtually guaranteed that the other two apartments will be empty and you will have all the communal space to yourself.
The house itself was built in 1980 - it is big and spacious and (relatively) modern, but it is not a pretty old farmhouse. We do keep it clean.
We've tried to post photos that are as honest as possible - it is not in our interests to mislead guests and then get bad reviews - generally the apartment is in pretty good condition. The only possible area of improvement is the bathroom where there is one section of tiles a different shade of brown to the rest and there is a shower-bath, as opposed to a separate shower and separate bath. We've tried to reflect this in what we think are deliberately fair prices.
The real beauty of our house is the location. If you like the countryside, then you will find the location to be absolutely stunning, near the top of a pretty valley in the Appenines of Piacenza.
Our house is the last one at the top of the valley - we have neighbours on one side and then open countryside on the other three sides - perfect for anyone who likes walking or mountain-biking.
The local food honestly is off-the-charts amazingly good (and I'm understating this). Italian food is very regional. If you ask any Italian, which region (other than his own) in has the best food, 8 times out of 10 times he'll say Emilia, which is where we are.
If you do stay with us on a Thursday to Sunday we will virtually insist that you go to eat at my local friend Paolo's "agriturismo" (trattoria where most of the food they serve is grown or raised on their own farm) - if you do not love the food they serve you then we'll refund you the cost of the meal (but don't complain directly to Paolo himself - as he is also the local village mayor, he may get you in trouble). Luciana in the village also is an excellent cook and we can give you a dozen other places nearby where the food is top notch (and I'm measuring against very high standards).
Piacenza is known for its food rather than its wine and (I'm going to get in big trouble with my cousins and friends for saying this) the local wine is generally average, by Italian standards. (although you will probably find that your appreciation of its quality improves, the more you have of it...) Having said that there are a couple of local winemakers which are up there at the very top of the tree: such as Stoppa and La Tosa. You can visit these and eat well as well as taste the wine.
However I would encourage you to try the sparkling red wine that is typical or our region - although, for whatever reason, it has not really caught on abroad, it is under-appreciated for a fresh and light wine that is perfect to drink in excessive quantities on a hot day to stay refreshed without getting too much of a headache.
This being Italy - if you love art, architecture and aesthetic beauty, your main problem is going to be deciding what NOT to see.
We are 40 mins from the centre of Piacenza [Piazza Cavalli], 1 hr from Parma and Cremona, 1 hr 30 mins from Milan, Modena and Pavia (La Certosa), 2 hours from Cinque Terre, Bologna, Mantova, Verona and Lake Garda, 3 hours from Florence, Venice and Portofino. (I've not even mentioned, Ferrara, Vicenza, Ravenna [San Vitale], Padova [La capella degli Scrovegni], Pisa, Bergamo, Vigevano) - all of which would be among the most beautiful cities of any other country in the world.
Local attractions include the Roman ruins at Velleia Romana (10 minutes), the medieval fortified towns of Castell'Arquato (20 minutes) and Vigoleno (40 minutes) and dozens of other castles - the nearest being the Castle of Gropparello (20 mins away) and the most spectacular the Castle of Bardi (1 hour way) (other beautiful castles nearby would be Rivalta, Rocca d'Ogilisio, Pianello and many more) Again, this being Italy, these places are hardly known in the rest of Italy, but in any other country would be famous at the national level.