Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 4114: Agriturismo Cretaiole, Il Pollaio
apartments on a farm near Pienza, Tuscany South
Sept, 2008, 7 days
Our week at Agriturismo Cretaiole was the centerpiece and the highlight of our two-week trip to Italy. What a place! It fit my mind’s idea of the perfect Tuscan farmhouse – rustic yet charming, not too polished but clean and cozy, stone walls, terra cotta floors, and scenery all around that you can only imagine until you’re there yourself.
Our apartment, Il Pollaio, (more of an efficiency apartment) was a charming room complete with a large bathroom (with shower, toilet, and bidet), a well-stocked kitchenette with cook-top (no oven), a wood burning fireplace, a small couch, dining table, chest of drawers, and queen size bed. The size of the room was more than adequate for us and we really enjoyed having a place to settle in to for a whole week. There is no air conditioning. During our early September stay, it was warm. Although lack of a/c wouldn't keep me from coming here again, I have to admit it would have been nice to have. There was an oscillating fan the did the trick.
Then there is Isabella and the welcome that you get from the whole family who owns the farm. “Isa” is the hostess who makes sure everyone gets settled when they check in, she’s checks in regularly to answer questions, help plan visits, help with reservations for dinner or winery visits, and anything else you might need. She also coordinates group activities for the guests at the farm – some are free and included in the price of the stay and others are an extra, but very reasonable, fee.
It was such a treat to spend time with Isa and her family (as well as the others who stayed at Cretaiole while we were there). The family shares openly to ensure that you, the visitor, are given a peek into their world and the life they live as farmers in Tuscany. This type of interaction with local people added a whole new depth to the experience of foreign travel. This is why my husband and I travel and in the future, we will seek out similar accommodations where ever we can.
The highlight of our stay was the pici class that Isa taught to all the "residents" of Cretaiole, and the dinner that followed. The family provided plenty of grilled meat from their farm, wonderful sauce for the pasta we all made, and their own wine. The rest of us brought something (salads, deserts, etc) to round out the meal. Fellowship like that with people from all over the world was such a wonderful experience, even when you don't always speak the same language!
Also at the farm you will find a large vegetable garden proudly tended to by Luciano, the farm's owner, where you can help yourself to whatever is ready to pick. There is also a washing machine (ask for help the first time you use it!), a place to dry clothes the Italian way - in the sunshine, fresh herbs, plenty of lounge chairs and picnic tables to enjoy the outdoors, and many friendly farm cats.
Wine produced by Cretaiole can be purchased from Isa. Ask about the refillable 1-1/2 liter "jug" for €10. It tasted great and, since you don't keep the bottle, it's a better value than the regular bottles. The family's olive oil was also available for purchase.
If you are looking for a charming place to stay where you have the opportunity to immerse yourself into the culture and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Tuscan countryside, this is the place. If, on the other hand, you're looking to be pampered at a 5-star property, then this isn't for you.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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