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“A magical place”

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Agriturismo Cretaiole di Luciano Moricciani
Ranked #3 of 62 Specialty Lodging in Pienza
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 3, 2009

I've traveled a fair amount and I always like to go some place new, but this is a wonderful place I would definitely like to return to some day. I went there in May 2009 with my fiancé during a three-week European vacation and it was by far our favorite place. Isabella, Carlo and Luciano have built something very special at Cretaiole. The love they show for Val d'Orcia (the region of Tuscany Cretaiole is in), the people who live there and the people who visit is unmatched. One of my favorite moments was during a walk led by Isabella, where she shared her story of what is was like to move here as a city girl, and both the frustration and joy she felt getting to know this place, was very moving to me.

There are lots of activities to take part in, I wouldn't skip the farmhouse dinner if I were you. I never imagined my favorite meal on my whole trip would be vegetarian! But it was that good!

Seriously, there is a reason this place is ranked #1 in the area. I can't recommend it enough.

  • Stayed: May 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank derrickvee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 22, 2009

Toscana – September 24 – Oct 18, 2009 – Pienza – Agriturismo Cretaiole – Podere San Gregorio

Having spent over three weeks in a little piece of heaven, and having experienced an opening of my heart to an amazing land, culture and people, I am not sure where to begin. It is hard to put into words what my heart feels. It is full, touched by so much kindness. It is at peace, having witnessed a life that is simple, yet full of work. It is in love, with a man of another generation who believes in the traditional values of the Italian life, and who gives so much of himself to others so that we can only try to grasp the passion he feels about his life’s work. In love with a man and woman who are commited to this land, the Val D’Orcia, to its’ preservation, and to the education of outsiders about their way of life.

My husband, Brad, and I left for Italy on September 24, 2009, flying Vancouver-Toronto-Roma. By the time we hit Roma we hadn’t slept in 24 hours. We hurried to catch a train up to Chiusi where we would find our rental car. A big thank you to Aesserent car rental – Sara was a delight to deal with over email, and the gentlemen in the shop were helpful with directions, maps and pronunciations of towns.

We left Chiusi and headed to our hotel in Chianciano Terme. I won’t name the hotel, as it was noisy and a bit awkward, but we slept soundly after an Italian beer and pizza.

Saturday morning we awoke to sunshine. We drove to Montepulciano and then on to Pienza. Following explicit directions from Isabella Moricciani, we found Agriturismo Cretaiole with no problem. When we pulled up, we were both left speechless by the beauty of the place – olive trees, fig trees, oak trees, many flowers, a big vegatable garden, grape vines heavy with fruit, and a beautifully restored old farm building. We couldn’t believe our luck – that this would be our home for the next three weeks. Carlo Moricciani approached us and between sign language and my little bit of French and Italian, we ended up leaving our back packs in our apartment and heading into Pienza. We were “killing time” until our meeting with Isabella at 3:00. I make the statement in parathesis, as we were still in our “city state of mind”.

Pienza – the most beautiful little town I have ever been in. Small, charming, quaint, clean, lovely shops, yummy food stores (pecorino cheese, salumi, breads, pastries, pastas…) and nice little restaurants. We wandered the town, walking the exterior wall and taking in the awe-inspiring views. We snapped photo after photo, reality slowly sinking in that we were actually here!!! We marvelled at the narrow streets, the beautifully tended flowers, and the laundry hanging in the breeze.

At 3:00 we returned to Cretaiole to meet Isabella. She is more beautiful in person than her picture on the website portrays. Isa is a walking ball of positive energy, excited to meet new people and help them find whatever it is they need for their week (or two or three) experience. She introduced us to our beautiful apartment, L’Oliviera, and explained where to find the fresh water spout – what fun!! Fresh from the deep well. Isa directed us to have dinner with a wild Italian at Sette di Vino. Again, we were pleasantly surprised by the helpful nature of the owner, Luciano – he brought us a wonderful Tuscan bean soup, and an assortment of delicious finger foods. And of course, the house vino rosso!

On Sunday, after another meeting with Isa to review the weeks’ events, we went to San Gregorio, the Moricciani family home and farm. Here we met Luciano, the father, the farmer, the producer, the wine maker, the center of it all. We had a tour of the cantina where they make the wine and olive oil, the pecorino cheese and the salumi. Luciano took us out to show us his animals – pigs, chickens, ducks, and others. He is very proud of his farm. He sold us wine, cheese and salumi with a big smile, and promised to come around with fresh eggs in the mornings, and for a drink in the evenings “dopo cena” which I learned to mean after supper. After supper for Italians is 10:00 p.m.!

Every evening Luciano would come around the find people to have a little vin santo or grappa with. He enjoyed using the Italian/English dictionary to aide in the communication process. Luciano enjoys socializing, but the language barrier makes it difficult sometimes. We made up for it with sign language, laughs and patience. After a few days I learned words for breakfast, lunch, dinner, full, enough, different vegatables in the garden, how to state the time and day, tomorrow, yesterday, today, after, before…but the easiest way to communicate with Luciano was to look into his eyes and feel what he was saying. He loves his garden, is proud of his farm, and is like a peacock when it comes to his wine, salumi and cheeses. If you look closely enough and listen as well as possible, you will understand him. His evening visits were an opportunity to drink his elixer with him and learn about the culture, about his work, his life, his love for Pienza. He grew up in a very depressed time in Italy, and made the most of it when given the opportunity. His hands are rough from years of hard farming, but his eyes are soft and full of life.

In the first week at Cretaiole, we visited Pienza, Montalcino, Sant’Antimo, and Cortona. Cortona is a beautiful hill town – very steep to the top, but the view is worth the walk. The flower pots are brilliant with color. We took a day or two for down time, just hanging out at Cretaiole, drinking coffee and hanging in the hammock, having a lunch of salumi, cheese and bread (and of course red wine!). We cooked a few suppers, using ingredients from the garden for fresh salads. One evening Isa came to teach us all to make pici, a handmade pasta that is slightly thick and chewy. A wonderful experience!! The Moricciani family then grilled up some meats, the guests brought assorted dishes, and we had a feast. A great evening with great company – the synergy in the room was electric.

One day Luciano came by and asked if we would like to help pick the bianco grapes at San Gregorio – but of course! We went over to help and it only took about 3 hours. Sticky, sweet fun. Many of the grapes were cut and hung for Luciano’s homemade vin santo. Liliana, his wife, invited us into their home for lunch – wow – what an honor! While we didn’t speak much Italian, and they spoke virtually no English, it was a fun lunch – lots of trying to figure out what was being said using hands and sign language and laughter.

The following week Carlo said it was time to get the Sangiovese grapes off the Cretaiole vines. About 15 of us guests showed up in the vineyard to help. Again, a sticky, sweet mess, but the feelign of working with the grapes, in the dirt, in the hot sun, with bees swarming all around was thrilling! Liliana and Isa came over and cooked up a big lunch for us all – pasta, meats, salad, and dolce. And wine of course! Back to the vineyards to complete the harvest. By evening all of us were tired. After a shower and a light bite, we were in bed by the time Luciano came back for a drink.

The next day we harvested Sangiovese at San Gregorio – only took 4 hours. Again, lunch was served in Liliana’s kitchen – and again, a real honor to be invited into their home. We met Walter from northern Italy, a friend of the Moricciani family who loves coming to the farm to fill his soul working with the crops; Eva from Germany, who comes because she loves to work the vineyards; Claudia, an ex-pat who relocated to Pienza a year and a half ago after falling in love with the Val D’Orcia (she and her husband Gary are now very much a part of the community). We met a number of Italians who help Luciano and the family with the grape and olive harvests. It was a day filled with hard work, many laughs, and great food.

While we spent time over these three weeks touring a few towns and cities (Siena, Firenze), our hearts were at Cretaiole and in Pienza. After battling traffic and hoards of tourists, we looked forward to the peace and quiet of the farm house, a glass of Cretaiole vino rosso, the hammock, the quiet little town with friendly people. We appreciated our moments with Luciano in the garden, learning what Italians do with certain vegetables, and learning bits and bites of the language. My husband would hear the tractors in the fields and go see if he could help. There was always something he could do, and he was happy to be working with Luciano and Carlo.

Each week we participated in the making of the pici and the feast that followed. And each week I became more and more amazed at the energy Isa, Carlo and Luciano put into the event. Isa gives her heart and soul to the guests, creating an experience for them unlike any other. While there were many scheduled events that you could participate in, our most favorite thing to do was hang around Cretaiole with a bottle wine and just relax and converse with others.

In Pienza we met Valerio Truffelli of Bottega Artigiana del Cuoio. Valerio is a superior craftsman, working his magic with leather. I happened upon his shop and found the most exquistive leather bound journal, the cover having a cypress tree and quarter moon. While he burned our names onto the back of the journal, he spoke with us about the new generation, how he is worried about their future, their lack of pride in their work, and that computers are all they care about. He spoke of working his little farm, making wine from his grapes, this work bringing him closer to his ancestors who also worked the land. His fear for the new generation is a fear many his age feel – the children no longer have the passion for the land, for farming, for creating a life in the Val D’Orcia. They want something bigger and brighter. Valerio made my husband a belt – when asked to burn his name into it, he was embarssed and a bit shy, but did it. We are forever grateful for this man’s insight, and for opening his heart to us.

We left our hearts in Pienza, at Cretaiole, and at San Gregorio. We miss the family, the friends we made, La Dolce Vita. The work is hard, but the life is simple and sweet. We could all learn a lesson from these people. Work to live, to feed your family, to have pride in what you do. Bliss. I am forever in love.

Reccomendations if you visit Pienza:

Dinner at La Buca di Enea in Pienza is a treat for everyone. A small little place with only 4 tables, Antonio and Gabriella create amazing authentic Tuscan dishes with a great wine selection.

Dinner at Sette di Vino – let the owner Luciano help you with ordering. He will surprise you, in a very pleasant way. His bean soup is the best we had.

Visit Valerio Truffelli of Bottega Artigiana del Cuoio to purchase a beautiful leather bound journal, or a new belt. He is a magnificent man.

Have coffee on the wall at Bar Il Casello – friendly wait staff, internet café, and great sandwiches. You can sit outside in the sun, on the wall over looking the Val D’Orcia, or inside watching a soccer game.

Buy your salumi, cheese, olive oil and wine from Luciano at San Gregorio – it’s the best you will find.

5  Thank jls1203
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 8, 2009

My husband and I have had the good fortune to visit the region of Tuscany and stay in an agriturismo called Cretaiole. This is located just outside of Pienza, a hill town just south east of Montepulciano. There you will meet the Moricciani family who run a small farm consisting of an olive grove, vinyard, and small farm animals. They make their own olive oil and wine as well as prosciutto. They give a tour where you will sample it all. They offer several activities, many of which there is no charge. The Picci class (homemade pasta) is everyones favorite and most memorable. The farmhouse is centuries old but has been made into beutiful appartments with an unbelievable view. Pienza can be seen in the distance as well as Monte Amiata. Breath taking!! Due to it's location, you are just minutes away from many other hill towns. When we travel abroad, one of our goals is mix with the locals. We want to feel like we are living with them. No better place can you get that feeling, like you are one of the family, than at Cretaiole. Visit their website @ www.cretaiole.it and meet them for yourselves!

2  Thank GoClemson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2009

We have just returned from a wonderful trip to Tuscany. We stayed in the gorgeous village of Castlemuzzio..............in their perfect Italian apartment not far from Cretaiole. We had a little balcony where we watched the villagers below living their simple lives. The silence was surreal....no sounds except the chiming of the church bells. Traffic was minimal.....The people were very friendly...and although they spoke no English they made us feel welcome.
The activities at Cretaiole were such fun.....we met lots of great people....but the person who stands out in our minds is Isabella. What an asset she is to that family. Thank you so much Isa.......for your warmth..and for all the information you gave us regarding your wonderful country. Pienza is the most beautiful Tuscan town.....with spectacular views...we just loved it. The Val d'Orcia region is mostly unknown ..and yet it is the most astoundingly beautiful area in Tuscany. You will not regret the experience if you decide to visit with Isabella and her lovely family.

  • Stayed: September 2009
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1  Thank linmcclin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2009

My husband and I stayed for 11 nights starting at the end of August, 2009. Had done extensive research here and on other spots on the internet for our long-awaited trip to Toscana. We've been home less than a month and are going to rob Peter to pay Paul to be able to come back in May, 2010. The warm nights on the beautiful patio having a glass of wine and antipasta with new friends, the friendly kitties, the pici class, the wonderful dinner at the Monastery of Sant'Anna, the visit to the ancient Romitorio, and being centrally located to all of Tuscany was a dream I want to repeat! Add to that the knowledge of Isabella, the grilling techniques of Carlo, and the generosity of Luciano, and you have the best agriturismo experience anyone would want. Oh, and having a small kitchen was great, as you just stock up at the reasonably-priced Co-op in Pienza and add veggies from Luciano's garden, and whip up an afternoon repast to rival any local restaurant! Mille Grazie to the wonderful Moricciani family! ♥

  • Stayed: September 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Carolyn_in_Edmonds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2009

If you want to truly experience Tuscany, look no further. Cretaiole is magical! The setting is the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the Moricciani family are fantastic! We stayed in the Val D'Orcia for two weeks, one week at Cretaiole and the second week at the families apartment in Castelmuzio. Each held it's own charm.
Staying at Cretaiole allowed us the perfect blend of freedom and "hand holding". We were able to explore the area our own, but still have the security of being able to call Isabella for any help that we needed. When we planned our trip to Tuscany, I had hoped for beautiful scenery, great food and wonderful wine. We left with so very much more. Our weeks spent in the Val D'Orcia at Cretaiole with this fantasic family gave us a true understanding of the Tuscan way of life. We will never forget what we learned and will carry a part of this wonderful family and place with us always.
To those of you researching places to stay, stop looking now, this is the place.
To Isabella and family, our deepest gratitude.

  • Stayed: September 2009
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1  Thank Nina636
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2009

We visited Cretaiole in July '09 for a week on a two week tour of Italy. Cretaiole was the highlight of our trip that included Venice, Florence and Rome. The Moricciani family were outstanding hosts during our stay and I can't thank them enough for sharing their culture, food, wine and wonderful location in the Val D'Orchia with our family.

We rented three apartments at Cretaiole for my mother, mother-in-law, and my family of four which include a 2 and 4 year old. The rooms were very comfortable, well decorated, and our room L’Oliviera had a very nice kitchen. The location was just a few miles from Pienza, on top of a private hill, with a breathtaking view of the Val D'Orchia. We felt very comfortable letting our children play while we sipped wine and enjoyed the view. Luciano and Carlo make some fabulous wines that they sell at very reasonable prices and don't forget to try Luciano's own grappa, vin santo and prosciutto.

Isabella, daughter-in-law of Luciano, put together a fabulous list of events we could choose to participate in. Some of these events were included with our rental and others were available for a modest fee such as wine tasting in a 1000 year old cellar and a wonderful dinner at a local monastery. Isabella speaks excellent English and can provide a plethora of ideas on what to see and do. Isabella also has compiled an excellent local guidebook that is in each room and is yours to use while you stay. Many of these activities were very family friendly and some were oriented for kids.

We are planning to go back to Cretaiole in two years and stay for two weeks. The only thing that we would change would be to spend less time visiting the big cities such and Sienna and spend more time in some of the smaller nearby hill towns.

If you are looking for a location that will let you experience Tuscany as the locals do, then absolutely stay here.

The Baer Family

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank rb92673
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Agriturismo Cretaiole di Luciano Moricciani

Address: Strada Statale 146, Km 4.5, 53026, Pienza, Italy
Phone Number:
Location: Italy > Tuscany > Province of Siena > Pienza
Amenities:
Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 62 Specialty Lodging in Pienza
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Agriturismo Cretaiole, a restored medieval Tuscan farmhouse, with panoramic vistas, has apartments to accommodate groups from 2-7 people. Come and embrace the enduring spirit of Tuscany! Weekly rates include authentic Italian experiences, such as a pasta-making class and Tuscan dinner. Located between Pienza and Montalcino, in the heart of the Val d'Orcia UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cretaiole is as delightful for adult travelers as it is for families. Assistance available in English, French, German. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Agriturismo Cretaiole Di Luciano Moricciani Hotel Pienza

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