We are experienced travelers, and prefer to stay in places where we can experience more of the local culture, vs a luxury resort. Without question, our week at Cretaiole was the best local vacation experience we have ever had. If you want 5 star luxury, room service, restaurant and spa, this is not the place for you. If you want to feel like you are living in Tuscany with the most wonderful friends and family, in a magical setting....you MUST go to Cretaiole.
We went in with extremely high expectations after reading all the accolades. We were still blown away. Everything you read here is true, and more! There are too many highlights to mention, but some worth noting: Isa's Travel Binder - Wow! EVERYTHING you need is in here. Driving tours, restaurant recommendations, GPS coordinates down to the parking space, pictures! Just grab your binder and go - it's almost like having Isa in the car with you. And by the way, she's always just a text or phone call away if you need anything.
Carlo speaks limited English, but is a great communicator and a wonderful host. One of the highlights of our week was the nightly visits with Luciano, complete with Vin Santo, grappa, and dancing!
Before traveling to Tuscany, I had planned out day trips throughout the region. After Isa's orientation talk, I threw my plans out the window and decided to leave myself in her hands. Best decision ever! We lived like locals. Ate in local restaurants. Saw places that are so far off the beaten path....driving dirt roads to stunning medieval castles, gorgeous vistas, etc! We thoroughly enjoyed olive oil tasting, wine tasting, the tour of the cheese farm, and the organized tour she arranged in Siena. You can do as much or as little as you want.
Pienza is a gorgeous little town. Our favorite restaurant was Buca de Enea, and the hospitality we received there from Antionio and his wife. It was a big convenience to have the free parking at family farm on the edge of town.
Our room was clean, comfortable, and totally taken from a Tuscan postcard! We had a fire every night, and Isa even arranged for a fire-side massage for two in our room on the last evening.
There isn't enough room here to write everything I loved about Cretaiole. Just go!!!