Pienza - Val d'Orcia - Siena - Tuscany

Because we live here, it is possible for us to search all during the year for people who are passionate about what they do and passionate about sharing their knowledge, their bounty, and their time with our guests. We look for people who feel the same way we do about treating guests with respect, and giving them an experience that is much different than what most tourists experience.

The people and places we have found for you will always provide a phenomenal experience at a local price (no taking advantage of the foreign visitor—we assure you!).

Wine Tours and Tastings

During the week we usually organize at least four winery estate tours and tastings—some in the Brunello di Montalcino region and some in the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano region—two of the finest red wines in all of Italy. Let us help you decide which ones best fit your style of wine tasting! Some wineries are owned by small families who have a personal passion about their work, their wine, and your enjoyment of it. Others are larger, quite technical and provide outstanding demonstrations of how the wine is made. Some of the tours include a light lunch, others provide the tour and professional guided tastings only. All of them have been chosen by us because we really believe in what they are trying to achieve, and they represent the best experiences for our guests.

In addition to these, we can also send you to an excellent wine shop (called an “enoteca”) where you can taste, with professional assistance, many wines from these two regions, and from all over Italy. This is the best way to compare various wine producers and various types of wines, in one sitting—something that is not possible to do when you go to one specific wine estate.

Special Meals

During the week we will have one or more special meal events organized. These are special in several aspects: they are located in unique and beautiful locations (sometimes highly historic), the menus are customized for our guests, the meal is provided solely for our guests, and/or the setting is highly evocative. One thing you can be certain of is that the entire experience will be a treat—the food, the service, the setting, and the value.

Cheese Tasting

If you love cheese, we urge you to go to a 220-hectare family farm on which they breed about 1,000 Sardinian sheep. The family makes 30 different types of cheese. They have received many awards from Italy and Siena, and they have been mentioned in prominent national and international journals of food and wine. You will see how they make the various cheeses, learn the production cycle of the various cheeses and ricotta, visit the cheese cellars where they age the cheese, and receive clear explanations in English and answers to your questions. The tour of the farm is followed by a tasting of 8 different types of cheese including their delicious ricotta cheese, wine as much as you would like, bread, and water. In addition a few cold cuts (ham, capocollo, salami) and special fresh cheese called "primo sale", will make a nice lunch.

Cooking Classes

Aside from wine tasting, most of our guests come to learn how to cook Tuscan meals. We can help you and your friends and family choose the type of cooking class that will be just to your liking! All of our recommendations are with chefs or professional cooks with many years of experience. We can make arrangements for you to go to a 5-star gourmet cooking course, or an authentic four-course Tuscan meal at a local farmhouse with a fantastic Tuscan cook, or to a charming trattoria in a tiny jewel of a village off the beaten tourist track. Perhaps, however, you might like to have a professional chef come to your apartment and give the lesson in your “own home” and then enjoy the meal in your apartment or outside on the picnic table at Cretaiole.

City Tours of Siena and Florence

Staying at Cretaiole is perfect for day trips to Siena and Florence. For either of these cities, we recommend that you go with a professional tour guide who can make the city and its history and traditions come alive for you. We have outstanding colleagues in both cities that we highly recommend and are certain you will enjoy.

If you are going to Florence and wish to see either the David (located at the Accademia Museum) or the Uffizi Art Gallery, let us make reservations for you so that you can skip the waiting lines and walk right into the museums. Let us know before you arrive if this is something you would like to do, and we’ll make arrangements for you.

Sports and Physical Activity

There are many things to do to exercise your body, have some physical activity, and enjoy the countryside. During the week you can have a guided hike through the valley, starting at Cretaiole. Or you can go on a guided mountain bike tour—stopping half-way for a pecorino (sheep) cheese tasting. If you enjoy horseback riding, we can send you to a great stable with rides and lessons for all skill levels and with excursions in the magnificent surroundings.

Massage and Thermal Spas

After a day of physical activity or "power sightseeing", you might really enjoy a massage in your apartment. We can arrange for a massage therapist to come to you—and provide you with either a classic or relaxing massage or a therapeutic massage, whichever you prefer. Our area is full of thermal activity from deep inside the earth, providing several excellent hot springs that are enjoyed by people of all ages! For those who wish to luxuriate in spas with personal services (massages, cold water plunges, hot mud masks, etc.), you will find these nearby in Bagno Vignoni, Terme Rapolano, Chianciano Terme, and San Casciano dei Bagni. Our personal favorite is an outdoor hot spring called Bagni di San Filippo, where the "White Whale" (an enormous build-up of calcium created over eons by the minerals in the hot spring water) can be found by walking on a beautiful trail into the woods, and enjoying the warm pools–-free of charge.

Art and Culture

Famous for its fantastic art, culture, panoramic views, gardens, etc., Tuscany is replete with ways to accentuate your week with great activities to soothe your artistic soul. Try one or more of these:

  • go on a photo safari with a professional photographer who knows the perfect locations for taking quintessential images of Tuscany
  • go to a terracotta museum in a village which has been making clay items for thousands of years
  • visit a medieval monastery where you can hear Gregorian chants sung several times throughout each day
  • take watercolor lessons from a professional artist in the nearby village of Montisi
  • visit La Foce - the famous gardens of Iris Origo, and location of the iconic serpentine road for which Tuscany is known


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