Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2772: Agriturismo Cretaiole, Apartment
apartments on a farm near Pienza, Tuscany South
May 12-19, 2007, 7 nights
Agriturismo Cretaiole is located in the heart of Tuscany - the Val d'Orcia region. The 14th century farmhouse is only 4.5 km away from the village of Pienza and its location is breathtaking. Seeing Tuscany only in pictures prior to this trip, I was able to have magnificent views from every window of my apartment.
A rental car is a must so one can visit all the villages and towns in the Val d'Orcia region. However, there is a trail (about one hour) to walk from Cretaiole into Pienza (to avoid the roadway!) for those wanting to run errands, get some exercise, and see firsthand the wonderful views the region offers. Pienza is a very inviting village with all the amenities: grocery store (CO-OP), restaurants, ATM, Internet access, shopping, GELATO and market. The owner's family also had a few items from their business that guests could purchase - cheese, olive oil, wine and fresh eggs (lovely to have fresh eggs for breakfast).
The second floor (2bed/1bath) apartment that I (and my sisters) adopted for a week was quiet and spacious with great views. The 14th century farmhouse, to my knowledge, was renovated over a period of time. My apartment was, originally, one of the main living quarters of the family. It contained two bedrooms, a bathroom and the kitchen/living area. There were five other apartments of various sizes and all were occupied the week I was there.
The outside area was lovely. There are a couple of courtyard areas with tables and chairs (picnic table-style) that guests could share as well as an enclosed room that guests could use for dinner, chatting over a glass of wine, playing cards or reading. The olive grove lent true authenticity and guests were invited to use produce from the organic garden. A volleyball net, a ping pong table and a hammock (between two olive trees) provided a bit of relaxation and fun for the guests. No swimming pool but that was last on my list of requirements. I took advantage of the local thermal pools, which was a treat and was more memorable that a standard swimming pool.
The apartment was clean, well furnished and comfortable. I fell in love with the simple, classic furnishings that were tailored to the feel of the farmhouse.
The two bedrooms slept two people each - one room had what seemed a king-size bed and the other room had a double and a single bed. The linens and beautiful handmade blankets were amazing. The bathroom was standard with shower, toilet, bidet and sink. It was spotless on arrival and provided more than enough white towels for my group for the entire week.
The kitchen was well equipped with stove-top, oven, utensils, pots, pans, dishes and linens. Could use a couple of more wineglasses. The kitchen provided exactly what we required for the week - the ability to make coffee and eggs in the morning and pasta and salad in the evening.
Problems or Bonuses
Surprises - the passion of the owner's family. I read many reviews of Agriturismo Cretaiole prior to booking and they were overwhelmingly in praise of how the family treats their guests as extended members of their family. I was expecting hospitality, a good knowledge of the region and a taste of the local culture but what I received was a new family for seven days. The family is gracious, passionate, intelligent and excellent ambassadors for their country. They are a beautiful family with an obvious affection for each other and their guests. A second wonderful surprise was the opportunity to meet other guests that appreciated Agriturismo Cretaiole as much as I did. I met individuals from Australia, Ireland and the US. One of my favorite experiences was the night we all sat outside drinking wine and telling stories while Luciano 'patiently' let us practice our Italian!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Isabella is the member of the family that handles most of the guest interaction and arrangements as she speaks various languages. Her English is excellent! Isabella arranged outings for the guests (voluntary participation) some which were of no charge and others for which there was a charge. I thought these were well priced and knew that I would not be able to seek out the same opportunities and experiences for the prices charged. The accomodations met and exceeded my expectations in relation to price.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay at Agriturismo Cretaiole again in a heartbeat. There was so much to do and see in the Val D'Orcia region that we actually cancelled a trip into Florence and a trip into Rome to further explore the region. I would recommend Cretaiole to my friends only if they promised to bring me along! I had a wonderful time. If you are a traveller that seeks a refuge that is overflowing in beauty and hospitality, provides tranquility and a great cultural experience, and allows you to practice your Italian nightly with the owner, then this is the place for you. If you are a traveller that seeks accommodation that is the middle of a city, with creature comforts like a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, and fast food, keep looking.
Things to do in this area
Too many to mention - Isabella did an excellent job of arranging traditional dinners, wine tastings and tours. However, one of my favorite places was the gelato shop on the corner in Pienza. Wonderful!
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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