Beautiful rooms in rustic Tuscan style, with kitchens and fireplaces
Organized activities (some are not free) from wine tasting to cooking classes
Guests get to interact with the owners and other guests (a con for those seeking privacy)
Local travel guide written by the owners for the guests
Basket of local products upon arrival
Gorgeous Tuscan landscape
Free Wi-Fi in the veranda
No breakfast or restaurant
Only weekly stays possible (three nights in the winter)
No pool (by design)
At Agriturismo Cretaiole, a farm property with eight apartments not far from Pienza, there is no pool -- but there is a postcard-perfect Tuscan setting. The owners’ aim is to allow guests to live an authentically Tuscan experience, not simply to enjoy a holiday. There is no restaurant or breakfast, but fresh vegetables and products from the farm can be found in the rooms, which have full kitchens. The rooms themselves are incredibly charming, with wrought-iron headboards, terra-cotta tile floors, and wood ceiling beams. Cretaiole is more expensive than similar properties nearby, but it has better hospitality, and organized activities include wine tasting and cooking classes. Appealing hill towns such as Pienza, San Quirico d’Orcia, and Montepulciano are within easy driving distance.
A high-end farm stay providing an authentic Tuscan experience
The property is a typical Tuscan farmhouse -- made of stones and bricks -- in the Val d’Orcia countryside, and the view of Pienza from Cretaiole is gorgeous. The apartments face a yard and have independent access. Stays are on a weekly basis in summer (or for at least three nights in the winter). Cretaiole is not a full-service hotel, as the owners warn: There is no breakfast, restaurant, spa, or pool, and only a light mid-week room cleaning with change of towels and sheets during the stay. The guests are warmly welcomed by the owners (the Moricciani family) on Saturdays; during the week, there is plenty of social interaction with them and the other guests. Some may prefer more privacy, while many love the familiar spirit.
The lack of pool was a deliberate choice, and the owners of this high-end agriturismo explained that it would have been inauthentic, as this is a true Tuscan farm and they wanted to keep the property as close to the way they found it as possible. Also, this entire area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004, and getting a permission to build a pool is now impossible (properties that have one -- such as the nearby Agriturismo Bonello -- had built it before).
In the Tuscan countryside, within a five-minute drive of Pienza and a 20-minute drive of Montepulciano
Cretaiole is in the countryside, a five-minute drive from Pienza, on the road coming from San Quirico d’Orcia, one of the most scenic drives of the region. A few minutes from here, Vitaleta chapel -- an iconic part of the Tuscan landscape -- appears in the distance. Cretaiole has no restaurant, but the apartments have kitchens. Fine dinners can also be found in the nearby villages: Pienza (a five-minute drive), San Quirico d’Orcia (10 minutes) or Montepulciano (20 minutes). Natural thermal pools are within a 15-minute drive. Siena and Florence are, respectively, one- and two-hour drives.
Rustic but charming and elegant, with full kitchens
Apartments face an internal yard. Well-kept interiors have a rustic but elegant Tuscan style: wooden beams, terra-cotta tiles, warm yellow walls, exposed bricks or stones, wrought-iron beds with elegant bedding, and antiques. Kitchens are typical of those in a rural house, with burners, fridges, microwave ovens, pots and pans, and moka pots (Italian coffeepots -- though American coffeemakers are available upon request) -- but no dishwashers. Staples such as salt, pepper, coffee, and tea are provided. Bathrooms, with showers, are elegant and functional if not big, with materials such as travertine tile, terra-cotta, and white ceramic. Fireplaces are a charming touch (firewood is provided free), though TVs are tiny and tube-style. Rooms do not have air-conditioning.
Upon arrival, guests will find a basket full of products waiting, many coming directly from the farm: vegetables (which guests can also gather for themselves in the vegetable garden), oil, wine, eggs, and pasta. There is also a huge binder prepared by the owners, full of detailed instructions and reviews on local attractions: restaurants, wine tastings, spas, and unconventional itineraries.
Baby amenities such as cribs, high chairs, and bottle warmers are available upon request.
Owners provide a local travel guide they wrote, and can arrange activities such as wine and olive oil tastings.
A number of activities (some requiring an extra fee) are organized by the owners: wine and olive oil tastings, excursions, and a pasta cooking class ending with a dinner with the owners. Social interaction is an important part of a stay at Cretaiole: Many appreciate this friendliness, while some, looking for more privacy, might find it annoying. A mobile phone is provided for each apartment for guests to use during their stay; guests have to buy the credit, but this is still cheaper than paying for roaming on a non-Italian cell. Other services include free Wi-Fi on the veranda and free use of a washing machine. A barbecue grill is available, as are picnic tables.
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