All 3 houses of il Poggiolo a Codiponte in the Lunigiana are available for vacation rentals… La Casa Padronale is the summer residence and is available until the 31st of October. Its season re-opens on the 1st of April 2016. L’Appartamento Azzurro is the spring, summer and fall residence and is available until Epiphany on the 6th of January and it re-opens on the 1st of March 2016. No chilly New Year’s, thanks to a wood-burning fireplace. La Casetta is available through-out the year!!! Steam heat + a wood-burning fireplace. Please contact us at either… firstname.lastname@example.org… or through the custom travel and event planning service, Your Italian Concierge, at… email@example.com. Hope to see you soon!
All 3 houses of il Poggiolo a Codiponte in the Lunigiana are available for vacation rentals…
La Casa Padronale is the summer residence and is available until the 31st of October. Its season re-opens on the 1st of April 2016.
L’Appartamento Azzurro is the spring, fall and summer residence and is available until the 30th of November and its season re-opens on the 1st of March 2016, thanks to the wood burning fireplace.
La Casetta is available all year-round!!! Steam heat AND a wood-burning fireplace too.
Hope to see you soon!
Wouldn’t you know? As the date neared for the arrival of My First Guests of the Vacation Season… a young South Korean couple traveling through Italy on their honeymoon… the weather took a mighty grim turn for the worse… SNOW!!!
I suppose I ought to be content it only did so about 200+ meters above Our Fair Village and not right on us. Instead, we got four days of cold, wind, a snowy air and about 3/100ths of an inch of half-ass precip. I wanted more 02 after seeding the grass but, t’was not to be. Just the cold, the wind, etc. The Cold was My Big Worry. I only have a fireplace to heat L’Appartamento Azzurro. No prob to scaldare the open-space but, the Master Bedroom receives less of that scaldare.
Already anxious, the couple’s arrival was made more so by the huge lack of back-‘n-forth emails experienced with the Aussies, The Brits and the Yanks from last year. Zilch with the South Koreans. A language problem? Perhaps. It dawned on me later that I could’ve Google Translated the English text of an email into South Korean and hit SEND!!! But, the groom did confirm reading the one email with the kind request to call when in Aulla to alert me of their imminent arrival in Codiponte 30 to 40 minutes later. It was a dark & cold night when the groom bounded out of his mega-grand Peugeot monovolume to hug me Hello! I was caught by surprise. A nifty tactic to disarm me of My Worries & Concerns. Greetings to the stylish new bride and up to the L’Appartamento Azzurro we lug their suitcases, I gladly showed-off the house… a fire ablaze in the fireplace… and gave instructions to a nearby restaurant and that was it.
The apartment became their happy camp-ground. It’s always a threatening experience to see what is, actually, My Bedroom, decorated with clothes exploded from an over-packed suitcase, towels draped from open doors and the furniture re-arranged. The couple would leave about 10AM for parts unknown… I had given a list of places to visit nearby, such as, Lucca, Lerici and the like… while late in the afternoon, I would re-start the fire so that when they did return, L’Appartamento Azzurro would toasty warm. They seemed delighted with it all. Even the outlet mall outside Florence they had heard about back in Seoul. In fact, the couple gave me a lovely gift of a fancy sort of Nutella in an adorable glass jar… one to save absolutely for You… thanking me for the best place they stayed in on this trip to Italy. Well, come back… and soon too!!!
They’re gone now. I am waiting for the Cleaning Lady to hit after 2PM for the next onslaught… a Canadian family from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Let’s hope they can stand the chill too. At least there is some sun. Gads.
Thank God, we are finished with January! February’s running now and is next door to March and Spring! Spring!! Spring!!! However, the new month came in wet. Real wet. This cramps My Two Weimaraner’s Life-style of 4 w-a-l-k-s a day. So they get 2 with the added treat of tussling them into their respective rain-suits… RED for Nina-beena and BLACK for Mr. Moses. They HATE them. Fine. Can dogs catch pneumonia?
In the meantime, I have been manning The Reservation Desk for Il Poggiolo. Not too much coming down the pike. One wrote and asked if a chef could be arranged for a 4-day visit in March. I suggested eating out instead. There’s more local Culture & Atmosphere at a trattoria and the food would be the same, if not better. Nothing beats the ravioli la signora del Bar Cecchi prepares for pranzo! Have not heard back. Another asked if the whole house could be taken for just 2 persons for a week in July. I sent an immediate why-not. Who am I to say what 2 persons would want/need/other with 3,000+ square feet of farm-house on two floors plus garden even though, I must say myself, the entire house is splendidly decorated & furnished. And then, there have been the entertaining and once-a-week Con-mails. Or, that’s what I call them. Usually sent from the UK and written in an extraordinarily creative though grammatically alarming version of English, these con-requests seek sorts of accommodations which have nothing to do with Il Poggiolo like, for example, to house a wedding party of 30 and the absolute need of a swimming pool! These con-folk must pick up My E-mail Address from hacking vacation rental sites rather than paying a kind visit to Il Poggiolo’s website at: http://forrestspears.com/ilpoggioloacodiponte
I cannot figure out what the swindle would be beyond the Terms & Conditions set in the first Con-mail expedited from a Gentleman From Glasgow last year. I thought at first that the request for availability in June for 6 persons plus costs was legitimate. I promptly replied though mildly suspicious from the mail’s bizarre English. 48 hours passed then, a reply. Il Poggiolo’s accommodations were confirmed for 6 persons in June. I sent another e-mail explaining payment options through PayPal, etc. All seemed on its way. 48 hours passed and then, another reply. And what a reply! The Gentleman From Glasgow demanded that I accept not only the payment for the week’s stay at Il Poggiolo to My Italian Bank but, tons more cash too for the guest’s living expenses while staying at Il Poggiolo and for which I would be responsible to make payments to restaurants, bars, etc on their behalf. ??????? What crossed My Mind as I read & re-read the Gentleman’s Terms & Conditions was this might be a scam to funnel money out of the UK… drug money, prostitution money, oil $$$S, whatever… hidden by the common pretext of expediting funds for a vacation rental in a foreign land. Or, with the bank account number, a sly method to hack its balance. Who’s to say? I’m not that smart nor conniving. I sent back what was My Final Communication to the Gentleman From Glasgow reconfirming My Terms & Conditions and only they were to transpire between us, nothing more, nothing less than those. I got one last e-mail from the Gentleman From Glasgow re-demanding his. I read it for its entertainment value and then hit DELETE.
Since then, the Con-mails have been more far-fetched & financially complex and quite frequent too. They all continue to rigorously maintain a complete ignorance of Il Poggiolo as a vacation rental in the most ludicrous English and coupled with Terms & Conditions for some other Financial Time & Space Continuum.
So, there’s been a little fun while I yearn for real people desiring to partake of Il Poggiolo in the Lunigiana’s Delights & Pleasures in an eclectic ambiance to knock on My Cybernetic Door. Any takers amongst you? Gads.
While during the autumn & winter seasons plants grow roots, I too have been with marketing Il Poggiolo for the coming vacation rental season 2014. Last year I found 6 sites on a pay-per-booking basis. T’was not an easy task. Most want the money up front. I do too but, have little recourse. Late in Season 2013, one P-P-B was knocked off the roster…
do you all know about this already?… I knew deep, deep, deep down inside I shouldn’t have signed on the dotted line with that Dutch site from Amsterdam. There were too many nagging points of disaccord cut with big incentives to join. A Big Controversy was an iron-clad exclusivity for bookings made three months in advance. How generous. The agent, after his personal inspection of Il Poggiolo & Codiponte, led me to believe climbing aboard with such terms to join a global network of vacation sites would glitter with $$$. I asked for a pen. Scribbling My John Hancock meant I could take any & all of the three-night minimum stays of Hey!-We’re-coming-to-Italy-next-weekend-on-Ryanair-into-Pisa-and-we-fell-in-love-with-your-place bookings between the proverbial Now and 3 months hence, but not the ones of Hey!-We’re-coming-to-Italy-in-the-fall-and-your-house-would-be-perfect-Are-the-first-two-weeks-in-September-OK? made the January before. Bucking thanks either way, I received no reservations. Well, until one appeared on the boards the very moment I was given a date for my hip-op. I cancelled it. See… it’s important for me to be present for Our Guests. I like to meet them, show them around, explain how to get to the Cinque Terre by train and not get lost or mis-directed… for instance… and make sure they haven’t trashed what was wonderful up in L’Appartamento Azzurro. The annulled booking provoked a fire-storm of telephone calls & emails, mostly from the agent loosing his cut, but a few came galloping at me from Amsterdam HQ for a flagrant violation of the contractual terms. Gosh. I persisted. The agent & HQ gave up, but not before kicking me off their global team of vacation rental owners. Tsk-tsk I thought.
Since last November though, I have gladly found another five to add. But what work! To find such a beast requires frying one’s eyes & brains Googling the Internet for hours & days at a time. I don’t think anyone was born to preform such tricks. I certainly wasn’t. I persisted. Then, for two of the sites, I had to drop My Pants to demonstrate certain items of Privacy which, not even My Dear Aging Mother in North Carolina knows and she’s seen me in My Birthday Suit! Well, not recently and certainly not since I have discovered white wine. Does anyone really need to have even the last 4 digits of My Social Security Number? Fat lot it will ever do me. But really. Then, there were the hours & days of plugging in the myriad info of descriptions, amenities, photos & tags, things-to-see-&-do-&-eat. One of these sites rammed a Trip Advisor Guest Guide up on my laptop’s screen to fill out before receiving the Green Light to go LIVE. Well, trying to hunt & peck places in the out-back of the Lunigiana I normally recommend in person… drawing cute litte, easy to read maps… nearly sent me to a psychiactric ward at L’Ospedale di San Martino in Genoa, Italy. If curious, you may go to: http://forrestspears.com/ilpoggioloacodiponte at the very bottom of the page and have a go at it. Cannot tell you though how proud I am of the folk at Bar Cecchi, the keenest place to park & eat anywhere in the world. Their ravioli are yum-yum.
I have one last site to prepare… the bug-a-boo of the lot since, I must go through a call-center to speak with a signorina for any desired changes/clarifications/modifications. Then, hopefully, I can sit back & watch the bookings roll in. No big roll yet. I have one reservation from a family from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. I can hazard that an Italian vacation will be greatly appreciated by the time of their visit in late-March. Beyond that, only a few nibbles. Let them come though for I am almost ready. Gads.
The first shot arrived on Wednesday. Five under 25-somethings spilled out of a rented FIAT SUV… an Italian oxymoron, if there ever was one. And, what an eclectic bunch too: 3 Canadian girls… sorry. They should wear tags, spiffy-up a recognizably national accent or, sport weird ethnic hair-dos, so we, Ignoramuses of the World, might take them for Canadians instead of, mistakenly, as facsimile Americans… an irresistibly confidant & charming Brit-fellow from Newcastle preforming the service of Master of the Ceremonies, and a tag along token American. Like puppies eager for the next bit of fun to run, the crew pulled out back-packs, purses, heavy-duty shopping bags filled with recent wine purchases and… and since IT IS 2013, several ipad & imusic-boxes…???… and off we all… The Dogs included… climbed up the multi-ramps of Il Poggiolo to the Appartamento Azzurro. They were unprepared for their mouths to drop open upon entering the once-upon-a-time abode of the contadini. Became hard for them to leave the scenic overlook terrace of the apartment to go out to dinner in a local osteria. I had to call the owner twice to move the reservation to a much later hour.
The kids are here until next Wednesday. They intend to tackle Rome before dispersing to their respective home-countries. I have two days to restore Peace & Cleanliness before a professional photographer shows up to photograph what-all… both inside & out… of Il Poggiolo and the next bout of Summer Guests. An American family from Nebraska with two uncles in tow. One & all hankering to restitch their Italian roots yanked from a village nearby to Codiponte immigrating to America. Cannot wait to discover how-why-when Nebraska was chosen to set-down new roots. However, the email exchanges have been delightful with the Team Leader.
Due in afterwards are an Australian family on, apparently, a standard holiday of 6 weeks on the Italian peninsula, an American couple from the retirement community in North Carolina where My Dear & Aged Mother lives and, again, another crew of Australians… well, a couple from Melbourne in Italy for some R & R after a conference in middle Tuscany.
I get a breather by fleeing to the US for a family reunion… shhh!!! It’s a surprise.
And then, joy of joys, I go into hospital for a hip replacement operation. Ah, yes! Burying 2,000+ flora with a shovel has taken its toll upon my 60 year old hips. Che sara’… gads.
Please be comforted… I remain ever-valiant in the Realm of Marketing Il Poggiolo as a vacation spot-par-excellence though it has had its trials…
There is practically not a soul left in The World who is not aware of My Ambition to rent out at least one of three apartments at Il Poggiolo. One who has taken this to heart is My Dutch Friend in Codiponte. She enthusiastically suggested I give a look-see at a vacation rental website she had discovered & based in her own home country. Holland ain’t just tulips & queens who abdicate in favor of their off-spring. I went immediately to its Home Page.
Apparently, there is quite a need to satisfy the Dutch Diaspora with vacation homes & apartments from the last of May… when the school-year ends… to the first of September… when it starts up again… because, suddenly, the screen of my rather modest Apple MacBook quickly filled to its every corner with a panoply of vacation rental sites in practically every Euro-country and many beyond. Those Dutch certainly are well organized. The site presents with graphic precision & short paragraphs their World Order of the vacation rental market and their unabashed Global Quest for market domination by voraciously swallowing-up any & all pip-squeak domestic sites under its Mother Umbrella… or protection, depending upon your view of such zeal. The site’s proportions are stunning. One head-line quipped of over 1,000,000 hits a day. Yes, 1,000,000 a day. Boggles the Spirit & Body. Never knew websites could handle such consumer violence.
Oddly though, as it is with so many other of such sites, there was absolutely no indication of how to proceed with joining the unavoidable vanguard. Well, beyond CONTACT US. But that enticement was geared for The Renters. Then, and coincidentally, out of the blue came a series of e-mails from the same Dear Dutch Friend… the where, the when & the how… of a meeting with an Italian speaking representative of the Mother site. Gosh, what luck! Must be Destiny. However, by Invitation Only. I called and managed to reserve A Seat at the table for this past Monday at 4PM. Yep. Destiny.
The drive down from Genoa was interesting. I could see it was snowing on the low hills to the left of the autostrada but, rain poured down on My Little FIAT. A curious meteorological wonder while I happily steered towards My Destiny.
The meeting was organized at an agriturismo… a farm-holiday locale at the proverbial end of the road… in that last cluster of terra-cotta roofed houses & barns in the lower middle of the photo below.
I parked the FIAT at the confine of the gravel & grass, a bit away from the fence, as all the other spots for temporarily abandoning a car had already been taken. To the meeting.
As I had suspected, you are invited to join the ever expanding march, if you & your done-up hut pass muster with the Mother site’s myriad qualifications. They do all the admin-work, you get to change the sheets, clean between visitors and point to where guests can nap in the garden and sit-back & collect the hopeful influx of dough, in any currency you care to receive it. I am happy to report Il Poggiolo & myself passed. Said My Good-byes and sped pell-mell for My Car to return to Genoa to feed The Dogs & You by 8PM.
I got into the FIAT. I backed it up just a teenzy-wheenzy bit, so I could whirl around past the other parked cars to head for home. The car promptly sank into the cleverly disguised foot of mud posing as a grassy median-strip. OK. The last time I got stuck… in dirt on a trail trying to reach an appetizing wreck of a house above the Ligurian Riviera, many years ago… I rocked the car back ‘n forth to get free. Worked once, surely it would again? No. Rocking rocked My Little… Cute… Adorable… 17 year-old… FIAT… Convertible down through the open gate and 100 feet into AN EXTREMELY SOGGY COW PASTURE!!! I could’ve strangled Destiny.
If any of you Cherished Readers are at all intrigued by the co-ordinates of My Disgrace… well… pick a spot in the middle of that cow pasture in the above photo and you’ll have it.
Thank God… the owners of the agriturismo came with a mega-tractor, a grandfather who spoke with an English accent… having grown-up with the Brits in Egypt, of all places… his son who looked like an Italian action movie star and his two sons and an hour and a half of PULL… and PULL…… and PULL some more to liberate Me & My Little FIAT from the grip of 3 month’s of steady rain-created mud. And, we were successful. I could’ve shook the hand of Destiny. My thanks were handily accepted, My Saviors asked for nothing more, which left me with little else to do but hit the road. Well, I did go back yesterday with a Life-time Supply of the most delicious pastries in the area as an offering of further Thanks.
Now, if you will excuse me, since My Story is told, I must get back to Marketing. Gads.
One of these vacation rental websites offered me a 90 day free listing, if, obviously, I were to place an ad with them within the next 24 hours. Sure!!! I then ate up all of those 24 hours, and then some, trying to get the Special Offer Secret Code off my laptop and onto the specially prepared Confirmation Form for a return-to-sender e-mail. The Apple gadget felt I ought to be protected from what it judged to be a dangerously junky e-mail. No access to The Code!!! After several attempts, I resorted to an e-mail to the website’s Support seeking HELP. On about Hour #36, I was given a NEW!!! Special Offer Secret Code. And off I went, writing, uploading photos and the rest for Il Poggiolo’s three houses.
I have to say, this particular vaca-site was super easy to use for dummies, graphically pleasing for those lazily illiterate and with pop-up prompts catching various errors and this well beyond Spell-check. Glorious. The whole kit-and-kabuttle of placing three ads took me a little under two hours. That may seem a lot to the uninitiated but, it’s nothing to the likes of some other vaca-sites. One, a bit behind the IT Times… engaged all My Computer Skills for nearly 10 hours of posting 3 ads. Uploading & pasting the photos… and I was happily asked to put more-the-merrier onto each of the 3 ads, so, I did… were the major culprits. I strove to persevere, a previously unknown quality now added to My List of Character Traits. Came with the territory, darn-it.
All hummed Well & Good with the free offer site. The cybernetic pike was busy with e-mails of thanks, others for coming on board to be a part of a world-wide membership, still others with Helpful Tips. Then, early last week, an e-mail barreled-in offering an additional 30 days free if… yes, if… I could corral a few Guest Reviews. Or, so said the jargon. What is Our World coming to? Apparently, Our Thanks are due… with or without Our Consent… to Trip Advisor for turning Our World into a mass of skeptics, if not furnished with at least one Review. I feel this is a further degeneration to Our Civilization begun with the dreadful invention of Self-Service. However, not to quibble too long with gripes about Marketing… dammit… I contacted nearly anyone or everyone… whichever happened foremost… who had set foot in Il Poggiolo. Even My Dear Bummed-hipped 84 Year-old Mother… for cryin’ out loud got bothered. Gratefully, most of the Contactees… ranging from Italy to Montana… rallied to produce A Review. So, let me share just one fine example of several noteworthy blurbs…
We wanted to visit Italy off the tourist path…a place to experience a serene more private Italy that few tourists ever get to see.So this was the perfect place to relax after 2 weeks of sightseeing with crowds of people. Still, it was close to the Cinque Terra, Parma, Lucca and Florence which we reached by short drives or train rides. In Codiponte we strolled to aqua Paradiso, visited the church, hiked to the old monastery and the castle ruins on the hill above the village. But mainly we relaxed in the loggia with books, took naps in the garden, and enjoyed the company of the lovely owner…who is a wealth of information about Italian ways and the surrounding area. When we wanted something to do he gave us ideas and directions on how to get there. A day trip to Cinque Terra is wonderful…be sure to hike the Via Del Amore, and Lucca is an amazing walled city, about 1 hour away, where you can rent bikes and ride the top of the ancient wall (about 3 miles around) and have lunch in one of the side walk cafes. If you want to relax, hike or sightsee you can do it all staying at il Poggiolo. The apartment is a perfect combination of ancient charm and modern convenience that is beautifully decorated as well. The garden is so welcoming… overlooking the river and valley below, a perfect place for a glass of wine, a good book or a nap. All in all a great experience.
Wonderful, no? Did everyone take note? Anyone quivering to rent one of Il Poggiolo’s three houses say, sometime in the Summer? It’s wide-open, folks. Hopefully, not for long though. Gads.
So far, most of My Winter Asylum in Genoa has been dedicated to furiously marketing Il Poggiolo as a VRR….or, a Vacation Rental Retreat. This was not Our Original Intention. But then, Mr. Monti came and taxes & utilities went up. Doubled. That’s easier than doing something worthwhile for the economy, stupid. I’m sorry I am not God. Anyway…
One Key Task has lately been to list the three houses of My Adored Tuscan-but-in-the-Lunigiana Farm-house… La Casetta, La Casa Grande & L’Appartmento Azzurro… with such websites as… House Trip & Flip Key. I am not responsible for the last one’s name. May I say? It takes hours & hours to compose & write, upload & arrange photos… happily taken with a digital camera and NOT an iphone though this admission demonstrates just how un-hip I am. But then, is it not the privilege of being over 60 to be so techno-grumpy?… and understand & fill out forms for which, thankfully, I have two university degrees to cope with.
But what a racket!!! Most get you up front with what I think are extortionist level ad-fees… and I will name names here for this Crime = VRBO… or, Vacation Rental By Owner which, its title looks & sounds so homey than their actual operation. I bet this site rakes it in. A premium one year fee is nearly $1,000!!! That kind of cash is already destined to pay The Tax Man. And, for the fantastically inefficient garbage collection in Codiponte. Oh yes… perhaps… maybe… possibly… for some avid individual, who explicitly bought, refurbished… even totally re-built!!!… a mock-Swiss chalet in Verbier or a palm-brushed yellow condo on Barbados, VRBO’s fee range is just so much tut-tut. I am and have never been so market-oriented. I just wanted a bit of Italian Territory. And why own-to-rent a modern sheet-rock shack with AC stocked with everything from IKEA? Apart from this current discussion, might we be risking… If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium? I am happy to report that Il Poggiolo is about .00000000000000000123% IKEA. The rest is PFMF… or, Pure Flea-Market Finds. No. Though I changed course in mid-stream, had bought, totally re-built AND cleverly furnished a wonderful house in a wonderful part of the World no-one knows about EXCEPT some fairly savvy English persons sprinkled with a smattering of other nationalities, even My Own Fellow Americans, I must now PTP… Pay The Price. I won’t. VRBO & Owner’s Direct dot co dot uk can go hang. And, I’m dealing with Flip Key only because they gave me a 90 day FREE ad. If no bookings, bye-bye Flip.
Some other sites… the ones I have belabored for hours & hours to perfect my ads… take their cut at booking. A percentage. Fine. This is a fairer proposition, to me. There’s less a feeling of being taken for a ride to pay for some dot-co-dot-uk’s late model BMW.
Let me mention An IMPORTANT Hallmark for comparison ad building with vacation rental sites. The ones who ask for a percentage are the ones you hear from. House Trip, for instance, has a bevy of multi-lingual young things who call me every time I have listed a property or have sent an e-mail seeking HELP for some cybernetic foul-up. The dot co dot uk boys send only e-mails… more than likely, from their BMWs on Brompton Road. Gads.