Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2931: Le Casine di Castello, Il Nido
studio apartment in Castelmuzio, Tuscany South
May 19 - 26, 2007, 1 week
Il Nido was an apartment located near Pienza and very close to Agriturismo Cretaiole (the families main rental on a working farm for olive oil and wine). It comprises an open plan studio apartment with a cozy kitchen, dining area, four-poster bed and bathroom with a large shower. Our favorite part was the little private garden surrounded with plants and flowers, lounge seating and a grille. The décor was both rustic and romantic.
The house also came with two mountain bikes if you wanted to better explore the area, but please note that you will definitely need a car to visit the beautiful surroundings, the charming towns and villages to get a real taste of the Tuscan country-side.
Because of the location of "Il Nido", it was easy to make day-trips to many wine-producing towns like Montalcino (30 minutes drive) and Montepulciano (20 minutes drive) along with the famous destination Siena (45 min.).
Being a guest in Agriturismo Cretaiole's family village house allowed us to buy their farm products (pecorino cheese, fresh eggs, raw ham, grappa, Vin Santo...) and to get all their personal assistance that they gave their guests of Cretaiole: The host, Isabella, was quite fluent in English and a veritable font of local information! She really made it her goal to make our holiday a very special experience.
To help you better explore the area, Isabella created a detailed guidebook (over 130 pages in English) offering information on restaurants, museums, suggested itineraries, and other information we know we would not find anywhere else. She prepared a calendar for the week we were there that detailed special events, concerts, exhibitions, and local fairs going on during our visit.
The first morning there, Isabella met all the guests to go over the itinerary she was offering for the week. We were able to decide what we wanted to participate in or not. We signed up for almost everything. Our week included as part of our apartment rental: a three hour guided tour of Siena with a professional guide (who was amazing!); an olive oil tasting evening with Carlos, her husband, who is a professional oil taster; and my favorite - a cooking class in the farmhouse outdoor space overlooking the most beautiful hills of Val D'Orcia, where we learned how to prepare hand made "pici" (pasta) followed by a tasting with the fabulous meat ragů of Liliana in a traditional Tuscan family-dinner - complete with Isabella and Carlos' family and all the guests at both locations!
While there are archaeological ruins and churches dotting the countryside, Isabella also took us on a private tour of the "Hermitage" that lies on their families' private property. Originally an Etruscan tomb, it was later used as a hermitage by monks in the Middle Ages. What history! My husband was fascinated by this tour as the Hermitage had changed use so many times.
There were also activities on the list that Isabella put together that had a fee associated with them. They were reasonable - again, we signed up for most of them. They included: A wine tour and tasting of a wonderful Brunello wine in Montalcino; an amazing day at an all organic farm learning how it works, followed by the most delicious homemade, fresh from the organic farm lunch!;I can't forget an amazing dinner one evening cooked by friends of Isabella at a local monastery; then there was the last supper (the only event that I might have passed on had it not been for the company, which made it worth it)
Isabella was great about knowing that this was our holiday while still giving us a little, authentic taste of Tuscan traditions, meals and experiences. Her family took each of us in and made our stay warm and welcoming.
Very little English is spoken in Castelmuzio (where our apartment Il Nido is located) but we found enormous charm. It is a place for people who want a real Italian experience and good value for your money. You can view the apartment directly: Il Nido di Castello
It was relaxing, fun, interesting, educational, romantic (I could go on) vacation for my husband and I. We really needed the time and having the time there with our privacy as well as all the activities, gave us a great experience!
Agriturismo Cretiaole provided a wonderful vacation opportunity and I have not stopped spreading the word!
Note from SlowTrav: While this apartment can be rented through Agriturismo Cretaiole, it is not located on the estate but in the small, nearby town of Castelmuzio. Subsequent to this review, the owner's have set up a different page for their Castelmuzio properties, listed above.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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