Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2866: Agriturismo Cretaiole, Il Pollaio
apartments on a farm near Pienza, Tuscany South
May 26-June 16, 2007, 3 weeks
My husband and I recently returned from a second glorious vacation where we stayed three full weeks at Agriturismo Cretaiole. We enjoyed our stay there so much last year that before we left we booked our 2007 vacation — again staying in Il Pollaio. The end of the three weeks came, and we were not ready to leave at all. We had settled in and felt like we were at home, both physically and emotionally.
Since last year, the family has made improvements on what we thought last year was perfection. Our studio apartment, Il Pollaio, was newly equipped with a brand new microwave (which we used every day!) and toaster. A large four-drawer antique dresser was added, which made it possible to completely move out of our luggage and into the furniture.
Huge fluffy terrycloth towels and exquisite, fine-gauge sheets, and cute new dishes were a wonderful surprise. Outside we found the brand new Emu lawn furniture to be both attractive and very comfortable. In fact, we all liked the Emu brand so much, we are going to look for it in the States for our own backyard.
The personal assistance from Isabella was perfect, as always and from the entire family, too. Again, she gave us a cell phone to use during our entire stay; all we had to do was purchase time at the local bookstore in Pienza whenever the phone needed replenishing.
If you are considering getting married in Tuscany, consider Cretaiole as the venue. Our friends from Colorado did just that during one of the weeks we four stayed at Cretaiole this year! My husband, who is a minister, married them on the lawn at the edge of the hilltop, where they had the biggest, panoramic vista of the Val d’Orcia including Pienza, Radicofani, and Mount Amiata. Unbeknownst to us, the other guests were watching the ceremony, and then gathered large handfuls of rose petals from the many climbing rose bushes on the property, and tossed them up in the air to fall upon the newly married couple. Isabella arranged for a private dinner for the four of us, which was served on the covered veranda. Sylvia, is a marvelous cook who prepared a four-course, Tuscan meal that was absolutely delicious. We provided the wines, which in this area are bountiful and some of the world’s best! Isabella, her son, and some of the guests served as photographers during the ceremony. We have beautiful, to-die-for photos that will be forever special to our friends as reminders of their incomparable wedding day at Cretaiole.
With enough lead time, someone wanting to bring up to 30 friends and family to Cretaiole for a wedding could do so, completely filling the farmhouse. Wow, what a fun event that would be! The same would be true for a family reunion. However, Cretaiole is becoming so popular, that for the popular travel months, this should be planned a year in advance.
While we were there this year, we met other guests from Malaysia, Canada, France, South Africa, and Germany. This is always a treat, to get to know people from other countries and cultures. The size of the farmhouse limits the number of people who can stay there, and the large size of the property makes it possible to find your own spot for reading, journaling, or dreaming by yourself. We never felt pressured in any way whatsoever to take part in the activities provided, either the ones that are included in the base rental charge, or those that are made available for a fee. It was truly do what you want, and only what you want. One reason for this is that the family does not add any service fee; they pass along the cost of the activities directly to the guests without any sort of commission for themselves. This keeps the prices low as well.
The wine of Cretaiole—Orcia DOC—was particularly good this year! The meats, cheeses, and vin santo served at the pici dinner were delicious as always.
We have already made our reservations for another three weeks next year. What better recommendation can I give than to say we want a third long-term stay at Cretaiole — our “Italian home-away-from-home.” We are medium-budget travelers and find the value of apartment and services of Cretaiole to be extremely high. We feel we get far more than we pay for, especially when compared to other alternatives.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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