Pienza - Val d'Orcia - Siena - Tuscany

  • Assistance and Special Services

  • Reservations, Payment, and Travel Insurance

  • Planning Your Trip

  • During Your Stay

  • Living in the Countryside


  • Assistance and Special Services

    Which languages are spoken?
    Do not worry if you do not speak Italian! Isabella is pleased to speak with you in English, German, French, or Italian. Her husband, Carlo, speaks French and Italian, and a little English. Carlotta speaks fluent English, Spanish, and Italian.

    How will we find Cretaiole?
    In your confirmation notice, we will provide directions to reach Cretaiole. If you have a cell phone, call us to let us know when you arrive. If you do not have a phone try to call us from the car rental agency from which you are picking up your car.

    Does your family live at Cretaiole?
    No, our family lives on our family farm in Pienza (called Podere San Gregorio), a 5-minute drive from Cretaiole. We visit Cretaiole every day to see how we might be of assistance to our guests, and we are always available by phone and email.

    I will be celebrating a special occasion (anniversary, honeymoon, birthday, etc.) while staying at Cretaiole. Can you help me celebrate by providing flowers or a gift basket?
    We would be delighted to work with you to make your special day as beautiful, fun, and/or creative as you would like. Just let us know!

    How many people can stay at the farmhouse?
    Cretaiole has beds for a total of 20 people. In addition, there is one sofa bed. Baby cribs are available upon request for no extra charge.

    Is Cretaiole a B&B, and will breakfast be available each day?
    Cretaiole is not a B&B; however, you will find grocery stores nearby and everything you need in your apartment to prepare and enjoy your breakfast either inside your apartment or outside on the grounds of Cretaiole.

    Are any staples provided?
    You will find ground coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, dried seasonings, and balsamic vinegar for your use in the kitchen. If you run out of these items, please let us know and we will bring more. In addition you will find a lovely welcome basket in your room which includes several items for your breakfast and other meals.

    Are linens and towels provided? Are extras available?
    Yes, linens and towels for both kitchen and bathroom are provided. A mid-week towel change is included in the rate. Upon request and for a small fee you may have additional ones.

    Is it possible to get extra cleaning on request?
    The rental rate includes a mid-week light cleaning and the final cleaning at the end of your stay. You may request extra cleanings which will be provided for a fee.

    Will the apartment have a telephone?
    We are happy to provide you with a cell phone to use while you are here. All you will need to do is purchase minutes for outgoing calls. This can be done very simply at the bookstore in Pienza. The apartment does not have a land line.

    Is wi-fi available at Cretaiole?
    We have a free Wi-Fi Internet connection which is available in the veranda and out in the yard. All you need is your laptop or your iPhone.

    Do you have a swimming pool at Cretaiole?
    This is a frequent question, and we are happy to explain the reasons we do not have a swimming pool at Cretaiole. Our philosophy for our business and for the service we wish to provide our guests is to help them experience Tuscany, its traditions, its foods, its agricultural products (wine, olive oil, cheese for example), and the beauty of the land that is a beautiful balance of nature and the cultivation by man. We desire to keep our property—both the structure of the farmhouse as well as the land—as true to its heritage as possible. Instead, we recommend to our guests that they go to the gorgeous natural thermal water pools—some cold, some warm and some very hot—that are eons in the making and part of the natural territory (and so much more exhilarating and interesting than concrete swimming pools!). We think it is almost a sin not to take advantage of them. In 5 minutes you can reach Bagno Vignoni and in less than ½-hour Bagni San Filippo and Rapolano Terme with the most beautiful pools!

    Is it possible to barbecue outside?
    Yes! At Cretaiole we have wood-burning grills available for the use of our guests—with plenty of free wood

    Is there a golf course nearby?
    Yes, there is a golf course in Bettolle—which is a 25-minute drive from Cretaiole.

    What other sports activities are available nearby?
    There are tennis courts in Pienza and San Quirico; outdoor swimming in San Quirico d’Orcia, Buonconvento, Chianciano, and Montepulciano; horseback riding in Sinalunga and Trequanda and mountain bike tours starting at Bagno Vignoni or directly at Cretaiole.

    Is parking available?
    When you arrive, you may park directly in front of the farmhouse to unload your car. Afterwards we ask that you park in the designated parking area (only 30 meters from the farmhouse) where there is ample parking for all guests. The parking is free of charge.

    Are pets allowed?
    We accept small, friendly, well behaved, house-trained animals. Please use a leash whenever they are with you on the property for the comfort of the other guests, and immediately pick-up and dispose of their waste in trash receptacles.

    Is smoking allowed?
    Smoking is allowed only outside. The majority of our guests do not smoke, and some are very allergic to smoke. Therefore, we ask that the apartments remain totally free of all cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoke. Grazie!

    How does the heating and air conditioning work?
    Cretaiole has thick stone walls which help keep the apartments cool; there is no air conditioning at Cretaiole. Electric fans are provided for your comfort in the warm months. If the cool weather makes heating a necessity, you will be charged only for amount you use it. Utility costs in Italy are extremely expensive, and for this reason, it is necessary for us to charge for heating. Every unit is equipped with independent heating.

    Is it possible to take part in the Dolce Vita activities if I’m not staying at Cretaiole?
    Only our guests at Cretaiole, Le Casine di Castello, and Casa Moricciani, are able to take part in the Dolce Vita activities. We want our guests to enjoy our special activities in a small group and with people they have come to know during their stay. We find this creates a warm, friendly climate full of relaxation and fun.



    Reservations, Payment, and Travel Insurance

    How far in advance should I make a reservation?
    The answer to this question is one of basic economics–when demand is high you must make reservations farther in advance. The months that are most in demand are late April, May, June, September, and October. For these times, we highly recommend that you begin to make reservations 10-12 months in advance to be certain you obtain the apartment you want for the week you want.

    Is it possible to book an apartment for a stay shorter than one week?
    Due to our Dolce Vita program (which begins in early April and runs through mid-November) we offer our apartments on a weekly basis (from Saturday to Saturday). However, please contact us to see if we are able to meet your lodging needs whenever you are planning to come to Tuscany and we will do everything possible to assist you. In off-peak times (November – March) the minimum stay is 3 nights. Please feel free at any time to inquire about any length of stay—especially if your travel is imminent—to see if we have last-minute availability or if you would like to be put on a waiting list.

    Many vacation rentals require a deposit paid ahead of time. Do you require a deposit?
    No, a deposit is not required. However, we will need your credit card details and your acceptance of the cancellation policy as a guarantee. Your credit card will never be charged if you complete your stay or if you cancel prior to 24 weeks before your reservation date. For large groups or extended stays, contact us for details regarding reservation requirements.

    Should I purchase travel insurance in case I need to cancel my reservation?
    Every year we have a small number of guests who need to cancel their reservation, and the major reason they must do this is for illness or death of someone in the family. These are things that can happen to any traveler--and often they happen with little warning. In order to protect your travel dollars--for lodging, airfare as well as other travel expenses that you will incur--we urge you to purchase travel insurance in a sufficient amount that will cover all of your out-of-pocket expenditures. In this way you can anticipate your upcoming dream vacation without any worries or fears of what might happen if you should have to cancel.

    Is it possible to pay for my stay with credit card so I can get travel points?
    Unfortunately, we do not have any relationship with any airlines or credit cards that would allow you to obtain "points" for your stay. We kindly require payment at the end of your stay in cash (Euros) only.

    In the United States travelers checks are treated same as cash. May I use travelers’ checks to pay?
    It is not the same in Italy. Payment must be in cash as mentioned before.

    How do you recommend we handle our cash payment?
    The very best way to obtain cash with the smallest bank fees is with a debit card that accesses your checking account. Use this card in any ATM (called a "bancomat" in Italy). There is a daily maximum limit as to how much money you can withdraw per account—and this amount is established by your bank. You will find an ATM only a few kilometers away in Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia. You may pay for your lodging at any time during your stay. Also you will find a safe in your apartment where you can keep your money and other valuables.

    PLEASE NOTE: It is extremely important for you to notify your bank and your credit card company that you are traveling to Italy. If you do not, the bank's security software often will close down your account when the card is first used in Italy because the software suspects someone is using your card in a fraudulent manner in a foreign country.

    How much is the maximum ATM cash withdrawal per transaction?
    Usually Euro 250,00. In the large cities of Rome, Florence, Milan, etc., you may find the upper limit per transaction to be much higher particularly at the airport and train stations.

    What extra costs will I have connected with my stay at Cretaiole?
    Our offer and confirmation will include all costs such as the rental rate, bed tax, and the optional Dolce Vita stay activities. Heating will be charged based on actual use and only at the rate we must pay. While you are here, we will tell you about and arrange for other activities that you may wish to participate in, such as wine and cheese tastings, special dinners in the local vicinity, massage therapy, watercolor classes, guided hikes, cooking classes, etc. These are not part of the rental rate, but will have a very reasonable fee, and are totally optional.

    Can you provide your rates in other currencies, such as U.S. Dollars, Canadian Dollars, etc.?
    All of our prices are in Euros. Here is one website that is useful to make a currency conversion to your country's currency: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/



    Planning Your Trip

    How close are the various airports and train stations from Cretaiole?

    Airport KM/Miles Drive time Closest train station
    Rome – Fiumicino 236/146 2.5 hours Chiusi
    Florence – Peretola 137/85 1.5 hours Arezzo
    Pisa – Galileo 221/137 2.25 hours Siena or Arezzo
    Milan – Malpensa 468/290 4.75 hours Arezzo
    Venice – Marco Polo 379/235 3.75 hours Arezzo


    I would prefer to use public transportation. Is it necessary to have a car?
    You will definitely need a car to stay in our area, otherwise it will be impossible for you to explore the towns and villages and the beautiful countryside around here. The nearest railway station is a 50 minute drive.

    What car rental company should I use?
    The car rental business is extremely competitive, much like the airlines. What is the best/cheapest today may not be the best/cheapest tomorrow. We offer you a strategy more than a name. Obtain bids from as many companies as you want. Our guests frequently use AutoEurope, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty, NOVA, and many others. Even after you have made your reservations, keep checking on rates from all the companies—you may find a rental special or rate drop has occurred since you made your reservation. Be certain you are comparing apples with apples as you compare the rates you obtain. Often you will find a company’s bid does not include all the costs and will seem much lower, but in the end it really is not. Be certain to include in your request additional drivers, a car return in a city other than the one where you picked up the car, GPS unit, etc.

    I'm arriving at Rome Fiumicino airport and I want to take the train to another city (for example, Chiusi) to rent a car. How do I do this?
    From the airport you can take the "Leonardo Express" train to the main train station in Rome (called "Roma Termini").
    With trains departing every 30 minutes Leonardo express non-stop train service takes you - every day of the year - from Leonardo da Vinci Airport to the center of Rome in only half an hour.
    The train departs from platforms 23/24 in Termini Station, and is guaranteed year around, even in the event of strikes. For passengers with disability or reduced mobility trains are equipped with dedicated seating and equipped restrooms.

    You will need to change trains at Roma Termini, and continue to Chiusi (or other city of your choice). When you purchase your train ticket for the Leonardo Express at the airport, also purchase your ticket to Chiusi (or other city) and in this way you do not need to waste time at the ticket counter at Roma Termini.
    Note: BE SURE TO VALIDATE YOUR TRAIN TICKET BEFORE BOARDING THE TRAIN. You will see machines close to the train tracks. Insert your ticket into the machine and validate it. You will receive a large fine if you fail to do this and are found on board with an unvalidated ticket. This is true for all trains in Italy--not only the Leonardo Express.

    We will be arriving by train into Chiusi in the afternoon, and the car rental agency is closed in the afternoon? What do I do?
    If your travel plans will not allow you to get to Chiusi before the car rental agencies close, you can do one of several things.

    • Contact the car rental agency directly and ask them to meet you during off-hours (even on Sunday). Often they will do this for a reasonable fee.
    • Pick-up the car at the airport and drive from there directly to Cretaiole.
    • Rent your car from an Italian car rental company. Contact them to negotiate a rate, and, ask them to meet you at the railway station at your arrival time. They are usually able to do this until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and even on Sunday as well.

    Is it possible to reach Cretaiole by bus or train?
    It is very difficult to reach Pienza by bus; and impossible to arrive directly to Cretaiole by bus. Neither Pienza nor Cretaiole are served at all by rail.

    Is it possible to explore the area just by mountain bike?
    Yes, this is possible if you are a strong bicyclist and are used to using your bicycle as your primary mode of transportation.

    Where is the nearest bike rental?
    You may rent professional mountain bikes in Pienza at E-Bike Tuscany (www.e-biketuscany.com) or at Cicloposse (www.cicloposse.com). They both organize wonderful tours on request.

    What are the temperatures in…?

    Month Day (C/F) Night (C/F)
    January 11/52 5/41
    February 12/54 5/41
    March 15/59 9/48
    April 20/68 11/52
    May 25/77 11/52
    June 28/82 20/68
    July 30/86 21/70
    August 28/82 19/66
    September 28/82 15/59
    October 25/77 12/54
    November 18/64 9/48
    December 14/57 4/39


    What will the weather be like?
    As you can see from the temperatures above, the weather is usually moderate year-round. Some evenings may be cool and breezy, so you may want to bring a sweater or windbreaker. Summer clothing such as shorts, t-shirts, casual pants and dresses are fine for the summer months and are appropriate almost everywhere. A cap or hat is also a good idea to protect your face from the sun. We recommend that you bring clothes that you can layer so you can adjust for your comfort throughout the day or from day-to-day.



    During Your Stay

    What are your check-in/check-out times?
    Check-in at Cretaiole begins at 3:00 pm. Please call us if you require an earlier or much later check-in, and we will do everything possible to make things convenient for you.
    Check-out time is by 10:00 am.

    Will my hair dryer and other appliances work in your apartments?
    Yes, they will work but you must have both a converter and an adapter to make them work. The converter is necessary to keep your appliance’s motor from burning out, and the adaptor is needed to fit the plug into our European-style, two-prong outlets. These items are not provided in the apartment, and it is a good idea for you to have them with you, especially if you are staying in several places during your vacation. Feel free to leave your hair dryer at home, however, because you will find one in your apartment.

    I really love to open the windows to let the breeze and sunshine in, but I do not like flying insects and mosquitoes. Will our apartment be equipped with window screens?
    If you have been to Italy before, you probably know that it is unusual to find window screens–but you may rest easy at Cretaiole, because our windows are equipped with window screens.

    We are coming to visit in the summer and I hear that the area can be quite hot. Are your apartments air conditioned?
    Cretaiole is not air conditioned. But, its thick, cool stone walls help to keep the interior cool. We recommend that you do what we Italians do—when you are gone during the day, be sure to close the windows including the shutters to keep the sun out of the apartment. It will make a tremendous difference in the inside temperature.



    Living in the Countryside

    Must I be able to speak Italian in order to stay at Cretaiole?
    Do not be afraid if you do not speak Italian! And believe us when we tell you that striking up a conversation with a local resident, using your hands and body, and flipping through your English/Italian dictionary will be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your trip. The people in Tuscany (and Italy) realize that Italian is not spoken very much in other countries, and they do not expect tourists to be fluent. Learn a few phrases (such as those found here) and use them!

    Is there a supermarket nearby?
    Both Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia have Coop grocery stores that you can drive to within 5 minutes from Cretaiole. Do be aware, however, that hours of operation are very different in Italy compared to most countries. They are open from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm and then again from 5:00-7:30 pm, and always closed on Sunday afternoon.

    Is it possible to shop on Sundays?
    During the summer time the Coop grocery store in Pienza is open in the morning from 8.30 am-12.30 pm, and always closed in the afternoons. You will find other little shops that are open in Pienza, San Quirico d'Orcia, Montepulciano and Montalcino.

    Are there restaurants and cafés nearby?
    Yes, yes, yes! Within 5-20 minutes you will find fantastic ristoranti, osterie, trattorie, and bars with delicious food at all price levels. You would have to stay with us for a long time to try even a portion of them.

    Where is the closest tourist information office?
    In Pienza, a 5-minute drive from Cretaiole.

    Is there a doctor, a dentist, a pediatrician?
    All of these are available in Pienza. We will be glad to provide telephone numbers and to call the doctors for you if you need one.

    Where is the nearest hospital?
    One of the very best hospitals in Tuscany is near Montepulciano!

    Where is the nearest pharmacy?
    There are pharmacies in both Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia.

    Where is the nearest bank and ATM?
    The nearest banks, also, are in Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia and they have ATMs that are available 24 hours a day.

    Is there a post office in Pienza?
    Yes. Its hours of operation are 8.00 to 13.00. It is closed on Sundays.

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