Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 3077: Agriturismo Cretaiole, Apartment
apartments on a farm near Pienza, Tuscany South
July/August 2007, One Week
The situation on a hill, surrounded by trees, overlooking Pienza is perfect. When you imagined what Tuscany would look like, this is it. We drove by many other agriturismos in the Val D'Orcia and none appeared to be as perfectly serene or as pretty as Cretaiole. Cretaiole is also perfectly situated to access all of the Val D'Orcia. Montalcino, Montepulciano, Radicofani, San Fillipo, Castelmuzio and many other towns are all within a 20 minute drive. Siena is only 45 minutes or less.
Being a very short drive (a few minutes) to either Pienza or San Quirico makes shopping at the local COOP (food store), finding an ATM or, more importantly, many small shops, cafes and restaurants very easy. It is also nice being close to a small town like Pienza which is not overrun by tourists and which is small enough to know quickly and be able to visit again and again. It is also scenic, clean and charming. The people are all very friendly. Of course, you may not want to take a picture of the little "hardware" shop unless you can run the 100 like you did when you were young!
You must drive for groceries but, as I said above, both Pienza and San Quirico are very close and convenient. Then again, if it is fresh vegetables you want or maybe some coffee for your Moka, a bottle of Cretaiole Olive Oil or Orcia Rossa, you only have to walk to the large garden outside or, your cupboard. Isabella and family keep the cupboard stocked with essentials!! Luciano enjoys helping you pick some lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, etc. A couple of days, before heading out, we would grab a watermelon from the garden and eat it with "new hungry friends we meet along the way" outside a little church or overlooking a green vista.
If you feel adventurous, go ahead and drive on the back road (the famous Tuscan white roads) to Pienza.
Cretaiole, the building is as perfect as the location on a hill. A 14th century farmhouse, it is comfortable, private and pretty. It makes you feel good just sitting in the courtyard or on your terrace. Of course it's even better at night drinking some of Cretaiole's Chianti or Vin Santo with Luciano! There are about six apartments that all have private entrances on the ground or first floor, around the courtyard. Each is nicely furnished and very comfortable. You will never want to leave the view from your windows.
Our three bedroom unit had a long wooden table in the kitchen. We loved sitting around it and eating some fresh Pecorino from Pienza or the morning coffee from the Moka. Did I mention that coffee never tasted so good?
As for the other guests, the grounds at Cretaiole are so large that you can hang with them (which you will probably want to do at least some of the time) or not. No problem. There is a huge field with chairs, ping pong, etc. There is a public sitting room inside. The other guests while we were there were from northern Italy and from Switzerland. They were regular guests at Cretaiole and very nice.
As stated above, the courtyard, gardens, open fields are all beautiful and peaceful. No pool. We didn't want it and, even though it was in the 90s every day, probably wouldn't of used it if there was one. We were too busy. We would also go for runs, bike rides, walks etc. early in the morning. You can walk, run or bike down the white road in picture perfect scenery. A bonus is seeing the all the animals that are our early in the day.
The furniture was in good shape and comfortable. The apartment was clean and there were enough chairs for everyone in the living room and dining room.
The beds are very comfortable. There is a lot of storage space. The bathrooms have good hot and strong water, and every room has a view to die for.
It definitely was a usable kitchen. We only cooked a few meals but, there was more than enough pots pans, plates, etc. Also, quite a few seasonings, the families own olive oil, etc.
Problems or Bonuses
As so many have written, the bonus is the way that Isabella really takes you under her wing. If you want to have an intimate dinner in town or on a farm, she will arrange it. If you want to go swimming in thermal baths or pick olives- she will arrange it. If you want to tour a Brunello vineyard with the owner, she will arrange it. And, everything she recommends was tested by her and Carlo, and is probably the better than anything you would have found on your own.
We had the time of our lives hanging out with the locals at the thermal baths at San Fillipo, going down the trail and finding private little pools. We fell into a private concert at Sant'Anna (English Patient abbey), only a 10 minute drive away, where we listened to beautiful music in the chapel. No one else was there. We had a great day in Siena following the tour that Isabella arranged (part of your stay). The Pici dinner was probably THE highlight of the week. Carlo's sausages and Lucciano's meats and the family's Orcia Rossa and hanging out with all the guests (and of course rolling our own pici while drinking wine with new friends, etc.) was great. Isabella arranged for us to tour a nearby farm (Il Casel) and Sandra was the consummate host, tour guide and the meal was never ending and delicious, while looking at the best view you will ever have while eating outside. Another highlight was coming back at night and hanging outside with Lucciano who would bring enough wine, vin santo and grappa to last all night. We had a great time laughing with him while we tried to understand each other. After a while, the full moon and the wine start to talk for you.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The price was more reasonable for what you get than you could ever expect. (pss- don't repeat that). Also, even with the horrible exchange rate, meals in Tuscany cost less than in the states because the prices are so low. Even the nicest place rarely has many items on the menu that cost more than €10. And, you can always get the house wine very cheap. It's always great (from a local vineyard). Why pay more?
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
There were eight of us. Six in the three bedroom and two in a one bedroom. We were all in agreement that this vacation was the best ever. It exceeded every body's expectations. Both for the hospitality of the owners and for the great experiences we had. We can't wait to go back.
Things to do in this area
See above. We were there a week and didn't do half the things we would have liked to. But, we wouldn't change a thing either. The only thing we can do is go back as soon as possible.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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