Charming one-bedroom property with mountains and river on its doorstep
Janet Penhaligon, Property Manager
- English, Italian
Please restrict smoking to the outside areas.
Children not allowed
100% refund for cancellations more than 30 days before check-in date. 50% refund for cancellations more than 14 days before check-in date.
What a special place this is....
Once again we have had the most wonderful holiday experience in this beautiful villa. Richard and Janet cannot do enough for you whilst you are staying here. Our arrival was late evening and Janet had left a lovely welcome basket and the lamps were on making it a special cosy feel to the villa. The position of the villa has stunning views of the countryside which we would not tire of. It is spotlessly clean and has a rural charm which we loved.There are also lovely restaurants and bars nearby which provide a warm Italian welcome and experience of their culture. This is a gem of a place and want to return time and time again. If you enjoy a countryside culture this is for you.
Bucolic, beautiful getaway
From the moment we booked this property, Polly provided a comprehensive information package and timely responses to all of our questions. She worked diligently to find us Fabio at Osteria dei Cacciatori, a wonderful local chef from whom we took a cooking lesson!
Upon our late arrival, we were greeted by a friendly Janet and Richard with wine, bread and an array of local food ... a thoughtful and warm welcome to the local culture. Richard, became a comfortable new friend and introduced us to the parmesan making process!
The apartment is absolutely beautiful. Exactly like the photos...warm, comfortable, clean and well-appointed. We had everything we needed to cook breakfast and dinner.
A one-of-a kind experience, we hope to return to in the future!
The property was very good indeed with nothing but praise for the week.
We had no complaint. The property was well decorated and furnished, everything worked, and we had a great week. It probably helped that all the other two properties were empty, but we had the pool to ourselves. With the other flats full the pool would have been very crowded. Apart from that possible problem this was a great week.
lovely place to stay in beautiful surroundings
We were delighted with La Stalla and found it to be every bit as good as the description. I suggest you ignore the comments from the 1 star review as we totally disagreed with them! The pool is perfect for swimming, the house was well equipped, very clean and comfortable. The details about places to eat, visit etc were very comprehensive and helpful and the welcome back much appreciated. One of the highlights was definitely the cooking with Gabriella!
Excellent retreat in Quara
Very nice barn conversion in a beautiful setting in the hills of Emilia Romagna. It's rural setting is it's charm. The house was well equipped and comfortable with a nice welcome basket of fresh vegetables , eggs, milk and wine there on our arrival.
Scheduled a cooking lesson with chef Gabriella at her restaurant which was a tremendous experience and one of the highlights of our trip. Made several types of pasta, tortoloni, lasagna, focaccia bread and a quick bruschetta. A fabulous dinner by the fireplace completed a great day. A must if you are staying here and have any interest in cooking.
There's an excellent Parmesan producer in Quara just a few minutes from the house. They were very friendly (spoke no english) and allowed us to look around and watch the cheese making. Bought plenty to take home and would strongly recommend stopping by to look, taste and purchase. Met some locals while there which led to a big party in Quara that day swapping stories with newly made friends over a great meal (with plenty of wine and grappa).
The walkway to the house is a bit steep and can be slick in the rain. The wifi worked best outside as the stone walls inhibit the reception inside. I had a few problems getting the pellet stove to work properly but eventually got it working. Better instructions seem to be in order here as none were provided.
In summary, we enjoyed our stay here and would recommend the property to anyone interested in the region and it's cuisine.
Thanks for your review. We love the fact that you partied with the locals! It seems that you really took advantage of everything that is great about our area.
Furniture should be in a skip
We agree that the barn conversion was of a high standard, the views were impressive and the property was clean, but our praise ends there. The impression is that money was spent on the actual conversion and the barn was then filled with the cheapest furniture available.
Having stayed in other self catering accommodation in Italy (both in Tuscany), this was by far the poorest. The upstairs furniture was a joke - there is a difference between rustic and rubbish. No wardrobe, but a coat stand with hangers, a dilapidated chest of drawers with dubious liners and bolts sticking through to the inside. The junk shop owner must have been delighted to have managed to get rid of it.
Ironically we were required to pay a substantial security deposit to cover any damage - the only way we could do so much damage would be to burn the barn down!
We're not quite sure what colour the towels were meant to be, but you could see daylight through them. Make sure you bring your beach towels, you will need them.
The garden at the patio was completely overgrown, the loungers were filthy, the upstairs windows were filthy and the cooker hood didn't work.
Beware of camera angles, as the pool is nowhere as big as it looks in the photograph. In any case, we didn't use the pool as it was full of debris.
This property was so far below our expectations that we only stayed for two nights and then moved to a hotel in Parma.
A final word of warning, the restaurant guide provided is not very helpful, particularly if you are not going there in the height of the season. We went in September and really struggled to find a restaurant that was open, despite what the guide said.
We are sorry you didn't enjoy your stay. As prospective guests will note, we have only had 4* and 5* reviews up to now for this property. We already have 2 repeat bookings for next summer. Unfortunately it just wasn't the property for you.
We try our hardest to give an honest account of the house and local area. Our HomeAway advert contains the maximum no. of photos allowed, and when people first enquire about the property we send them to our website, which contains plentiful resources so they can do their own research and decide whether La Stalla is right for them. They also receive an 18-page document well in advance of their stay.
The upstairs furniture includes teak beds (imported from Thailand) and a chestnut chest of drawers. Not to your taste perhaps, but certainly not rubbish. The towels are pale grey and were new this season.
The planting around the patio is natural, in line with the surroundings. The shrubs do not impinge on the usable space.
We make no bones about the fact that our corner of Emilia Romagna is not particularly touristy (this is a selling point for those wishing to explore a hidden gem). It's true that when the summer holidays end, not every restaurant (of which there are 10 or 11 within a 15-minute drive) is open every night, but there are still options. Our 'user manual' provides phone numbers for every restaurant and advises: 'in low season it is worth ringing in advance because some of the local restaurants don’t open unless they have a booking, or might only open Thurs-Sun'.
We have no desire to pretend the pool is bigger than it is, which is why its dimensions (9m x 3m) are clearly stated on our website. The pool may have had some leaves on its surface from surrounding trees - I'm not sure if this is what you mean by 'debris'.
It is of course not true to say that the only way to cause damage equivalent to the (entirely standard) security deposit is to burn the barn down. There is a large flat-screen TV, top-end pellet stove, fully fitted kitchen with gas hob, electric oven and washing machine; a new sofa and 3 armchairs; and a double bed, single daybed, drinks cabinet and dining table all in solid teak.
The downside of the huge first-floor picture windows is that they are very difficult to access, as our house manager explained to you. This will be resolved before the next season starts, so that people can enjoy the beautiful, uninterrupted views all the more.
We hope that you enjoyed the lovely city of Parma.
In the immediate vicinity the river Dolo, which is in places deep enough to bathe, is on your doorstep and there are some spectacular walks that can be enjoyed directly from your front door. There's also a wealth of wildlife to observe – sharp-eyed guests might spot woodpeckers in the forest, deer in the fields and birds of prey circling over the mountains.
This area is extremely popular with walkers, cyclists and bikers than to the stunning mountainous scenery. There are marked walking routes that can be picked up from Villa Bonicelli, from the river or from the nearby hamlet of Castagnola, including one that takes you across a rope bridge (see photo). There is also an excellent Via Ferrata that enables less experienced climbers to access some of the more dramatic routes usually only accessible to the expert mountaineer! About 30 min away is the Pietra di Bismantova, a magnificent sandstone plateau over 1,000m high. It is a climbers' paradise, with about fifty routes and climbing variants. Guided treks, half-day climbing lessons etc at Bismantova can be arranged – please contact us for more information. The Parco del Gigante, one of the largest parks in Emilia, is great for walking and horseriding.
The area has many restaurants and pizzerias that offer great value for money, including one approx 10 mins' drive away in Farneta. It is a friendly family-run restaurant with a lovely terrace on which to enjoy your meal. We have a partnership with this restaurant and can offer tailor-made cooking courses there on request (advance booking essential). It's a fantastic experience that comes highly recommended - our guests have said that it was a highlight of their holiday. For an alternative foodie experience, look no further than our local Parmesan producer in Quara to learn all about - and taste - the best Parmesan around! Get there early for a tour of the dairy and to see the artisans at work.
Throughout summer and autumn there are 'feste' being held most weekends in one or other of the local villages, with the focus of the celebrations ranging from wine and beer to chestnuts, mushrooms and truffles – not to mention various obscure saints!
The nearby town of Toano (approx 7km) has a good selection of bars, pizzerie, shops etc and is also home to one of the best preserved Roman churches in the Apennines. It also has a lovely outdoor swimming pool, which is open during the school holidays (early June to early September).
Emilia Romagna is one of Italy's most prosperous regions and is famed for its culinary delights, making it an ideal destination for food lovers. Among other things, it is home to fresh filled pasta (tortellini, tortelloni...), ragù sauce, Parma ham, Parmesan cheese and traditional balsamic vinegar as well as Lambrusco, which is a light and very drinkable sparkling red.
'La Stalla' is very well placed for a day trip to any of the four main cities in Emilia Romagna, all of which are worth a visit. The ancient Roman town of Reggio Emilia is 50km away. Modena (60km) is a thriving city whose Duomo is considered one of the greatest examples of European Romanesque architecture and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Parma, one of the most affluent towns in Italy, is 70km away. Bologna (c.100km), the region's capital city, is a real delight, with its characteristic red-brick buildings and its over 40km of covered porticos (useful in bad weather). It is also home to the oldest university in Europe, founded in 1088, earning it one of its nicknames, La Dotta (The Learned). Also known as La Grassa (The Fat), Bologna takes its food very seriously; in fact, it is considered by many to be the food capital of Italy.
This area is a car and motorbike enthusiast's dream come true - Lamborghini (Dosso, nr Ferrara), Ferrari (Maranello), Maserati and Ducati (near Bologna) all have their factories and museums in the region.
For day-trips slightly further afield, a day at the seaside can be enjoyed at La Spezia or Lerici, about two hours away – and don't miss the Cinque Terre, five beautiful cliff-top villages dotted along the rugged Ligurian coastline that can only be reached by foot or by train. They're charming and surprisingly unspoilt, thanks to their UNESCO status. Alternatively, head to the Adriatic coast to the legendary resort of Rimini, with its 15km of sandy beaches (2.5hrs approx).
For those looking for a winter break, there are several excellent ski resorts – Cerreto Laghi, Cimone/Sestola and Abetone – that can be reached from Villa Bonicelli in little over an hour, depending of course on driving conditions. Contact us for more details.
Golf: There are several good golf courses within an hour's drive of the house, including the 18-hole San Valentino Golf Club in Castellarano (approx 45 min), which is surrounded by over 130 hectares of woodland and green pastures and boasts four lakes; and the Matilde di Canossa golf club near the town of Reggio Emilia.