Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5139: Le Casine di Castello, Il Cielo
2bed/1.5bath apartment in Castelmuzio, Tuscany South
September 2011, 1 week
We have stayed near Castelmuzio, but not in the paesino (better word than village to describe the location with 200 inhabitants) so we knew it would be fantastic for bike touring, half way between Montalcino and Montepulciano, with the whole Val d'Orcia right there.
There is a very small Coop in Castelmuzio and one restaurant in town. We arrived late and the cook was closing down the kitchen. The owner saw we were very tired - it was an extremely hot day and we had cycled since 2pm to get there - so he stayed and fixed us whatever we wanted off the menu. IT was very good and we were thankful for his help in making our trip a success. There are a number of very good restaurants in the area, all price ranges. For a more expensive meal, try La Porta in Montechielo or 13 Gobbi in Montefolonico. Latte di Luna in Pienza with a specialty of roast sucking pig - I am vegetarian and find plenty on the menu to make me happy! There may be coffee in town, but we had ours in the apartment and then took off for the day.
This is kind of a single apartment set up. The neighbors, also renting from Isabella, shared a washing machine with us. Our apartment was secure, and theirs too. We both had access to the washer ... a treat for cyclists who carry everything on their bikes and thus have few changes of clothes.
There is a terrace off the apartment. We do not stay places with swimming pools, as they disrupt the beauty of the Tuscan countryside. They are not a part of the Tuscany we know and love.
Fabulous on this account. There is a small kitchen area, a generous dining area, a separate living room and two large bedrooms. With four adults, we did not bump into one another at all.
Nice, comfortable bedrooms with no problem sharing a bathroom en suite.
Problems or Bonuses
This was our fifth visit to Pienza and first stay with Isabella and her family. We travel by bicycle and rarely spend time with English speaking tourists. As such, we approached our stay at Le Casine di Castello with some reservations. Well, we can't wait until we can return to Castelmuzio and to Le Casine di Castello. We have never stayed at an apartment that was so well furnished for cooking and touring, either in the US or abroad.
It was great. Only one person can cook at a time, although others can assist with prep work. For us, that was not a problem.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Isabella is a lovely woman who speaks four languages fluently. For September, the price was €1400 for the week. There are other apartments and the agriturismo (eight apartments) that may have different prices. The family has also started renting out the home they eventually plan to move into, also in Castelmuzio. It is posh! Prices for rentals are given with a request for dates, not published on their site.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes. Yes. No qualifications.
Things to do in this area
There is no end to what you can do. We have been there five times now, and each time we go some of our favorite places and have new experiences. There are hilltop towns, abbeys and convents, castles, wineries, La Foce (read Iris Origa's books before going to the area). You are only limited by mode of transport and time you will be staying there.
We did not expect the variety of activities arranged with Isabella's friends and associates. Some we went to by bike. For others we hitched rides with other folks staying in Castelmuzio or at the agriturismo or with Ilario, Isa's friend who drives a local taxi. Ilario, by the way, is a fund of local knowledge and history and was extremely patient with my stumbling Italian. It was unusually hot, for the time of year and we had some health issues, so we did not ride as much as we had planned, but our days were full, to say the least.
Don't miss the visit to the family farm and romitorio, complete with Etruscan artifacts that the Italian govt won't let archeologist excavate...and hear that story and others. Being there in September meant we could still harvest tomatoes (the best ever!!!) and other veggies from the agriturismo garden. And by all means, take the pici making class and stay for the pot luck. You may even get to try Luciano's (Isabella's father in law) grappa and vin santo. The former is, well, is grappa. The vin santo is heavenly.
Most of all enjoy Pienza and the most gracious, fun, lively family you may ever meet. All this and more at Cretaiole and Le Casine di Castello.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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