Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2469: Agriturismo Cretaiole, Il Pollaio
apartments on a farm near Pienza, Tuscany South
May/June 2006, 2 weeks
There is excellent reason Agriturismo Cretaiole is a SlowTrav favorite. It is simply divine!
Please read all of the reviews for Cretaiole; they have provided accurate details of the facility, the area, the views, etc. I do not think I can do any better. Reading them brought back the warm visceral feelings I carry with me since we were there.
Rather than repeat the other reviews, let me describe what I find magical about staying there. First of all, the Val d’Orcia area is a land that I find mystical, ancient, beautifully barren, topographically undulating with surprises around each bend and over each hill, and full of the best food and wine in the world. What I loved about staying at Cretaiole is that the location and Isabella made this place become my spiritual home on earth. For the tourist needing or wanting to see as much as possible in a short period of time, Isabella can maximize the visit. But for the person who wants to delve deeper into the land, the history, the food, the wine, she can help you get there, too. She truly is an international host, who speaks many languages, and who greatly enjoys sharing the truth, the philosophy, and the culture of this alluring part of Tuscany.
How does she do this? She has selected farms to visit for organically grown food and meals and vineyards based on the people who own and run them, based on their philosophy of life, the appropriate use of the land, and responsible use of resources. One day while we were there she arranged for the guests to have lunch at Podere Il Casale, a farm that raises all of its own vegetables and animals for the consumption of their family and their guests. The visit was more than just going to the farm for a fantasmagoric feast but also to see the entire farm operation and to talk with Sandra, who owns the farm, about the farm, why they choose to use organic techniques, and how they ensure everything they grow is high quality.
Another visit Isabella arranged was a trip to the Uccelliera vineyard, owned by Andrea Cortonesi. He has become a friend of Isabella and Carlo because of his philosophy of wine making and managing the land and the sweetness of his spirit. Cretaiole, Podere Il Casale, and Uccelliera are businesses that support the owners and their families, but they are also examples of how to live in an artful, close-to-the-earth manner that brings serenity to the soul. Experiences like these are rarely obtained by Americans going on tours to other countries. Isabella provides each and every one of her guests entrance to the real life of the Val d’Orcia, even though they may only be staying seven days.
The first day you arrive at Cretaiole you will feel that this place is truly your home for your stay. Isabella, Carlo, and Carlo’s parents, Luciano and Liliana, reach out to each guest and make it clear that your comfort and enjoyment are paramount to them. Absolutely you know that “mia casa è sua casa” is in play!
We stayed in Il Pollaio, one of the studio apartments, and it was all we needed. There were days during our two-week stay that all we wanted to do was hang-out at Cretaiole. We had good cheese and wine, a view to die for, and an ancient castle to nap and read in - what more could we have asked for?
There are fantastic white roads leading from Cretaiole for wonderful walks. In fact, the road leading into Cretaiole branches off and is the back way into Cappella Vitaleta, the small travertine chapel used for all calendars and book covers for Tuscany. The monastery used for The English Patient is nearby and open for wandering around and seeing famous frescoes by Il Sodoma.
While there, you can practice your horrible Italian skills with the entire family, and not feel dumb. :-) They are loving and patient people. It was a supreme joy to spend time with all of them, and to gain some bit of skill in communicating with “real, live” Italians, and establish relationships in particular with Isabella, Carlo, Luciano, Liliana, Laura, and Nicolo. They are dear, salt-of-the-earth folk who you know have enriched your life.
We enjoyed our time so much, that we made arrangements to stay for three weeks in Il Pollaio this coming spring. Some friends of ours from Montana are going to meet us there for a week, and another couple from Colorado will come the second week to get married. We cannot wait for them to meet the Moricciani family, to see their apartments at Cretaiole, and watch them fall in love with their surroundings.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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