Agriturismos in Tuscany and Umbria: 2005
The Tuscan sun is particularly easy to enjoy when bathing in the hospitality of a rural farmhouse. What is your experience staying at Agriturismos in rural Italy? What is your favorite and why?
My girlfriend and I were so lucky to find a very central, weekly rental accommodation in one of the most beautiful and popular quarters of Florence -- Santo Spirito – where we rented an apartment for a whole week. We saved so much money this way. We have been planning this trip for a while and thought we could never afford a room in one of the over-priced Florence hotels. Instead what we got was a real "Room with a View" --the rooftop view from the apartment, overlooking a charming narrow street, with a glimpse of the Santo Spirito bell tower and the cupola of the Duomo, were just great. The Oltrarno area, where the apartment is situated, is Florence's Left Bank of sorts, and it has so much to offer in terms of art galleries, restaurants, cafes, bars and artisan shops. After a few days of exploring its streets and discovering so many great cafes, enotecas (wine bars), flea markets and antique stores, we felt like locals. What Florence hides behind its famously austere face, it more than makes up for with delightful, one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. It was a great alternative to a conventional tourist experience. It's like "living Florence" instead of just visiting it. - contact: firstname.lastname@example.org David, New York, NY.
new york, ny USA Thu 12/08/2005
Casa Portagioia - Totally Relaxed
It's been a long time since I have stayed somewhere that makes me want to write about it! Casa Portagioia (www.tuscanbreaks.com)was a fantastic find. Its name means peace and tranquilty, but it's more than that.
The hotel (or bed and breakfast) is an old farmhouse that's been beautifully, I mean beautifully, restored with every detail checked to provide high quality accommodation. It's also set in one of the most gorgeous valleys of Tuscany.
The rooms are incredibly clean, bright and have all the extras that one would find in an expensive 4 star hotel. The only difference is that it's not full of artificial fixtures and plastic smiles! The owners here seem to have taken on board the fact that travelling is not an easy pastime and can be stressful even for the hardened traveller. Arriving at Casa Portagioia was a breath of fresh air. A perfect welcome and nothing too much trouble.
Although November is not a warm month, the gardens and flowers still looked wonderful and I can imagine what it must be like to just relax by their pool during warmer months. The views are breathtaking and oh so peaceful.
Casa Portagioa is tucked away from the main town. It has easy acesss to the main roads and we were able to visit many of Tuscany's (and Umbria's) treasures including Cortona, Siena, Montepulciano, Assisi, etc. What made it so much easier was the help the owners offered each day in planning our journeys from a trip to Florence with pre booked tickets for the main galleries to a couple of vineyards and wine tasting, and of course up to date information on some great restaurants.
Casa Portagioia does not have a full restaurant service, but they offered dinner twice during our stay. It was certainly one of the best meals we had. It was a 5 course affair and went on for a few hours, but the beauty was that we were entertained by the hosts and all of the guests were totally at ease, relaxed and enjoying one anothers company. We all had wonderful evenings there and many memories to take back home.
Sydney, Australia Wed 11/30/2005
Il Poggiolo: Great Florence Agriturismo!
Il Poggiolo, just outside of Florence was amazing. We spent part of our honeymoon there in October. It provides a real "Back Door" experience and the host, Graziella, is amazing!
Il Poggiolo, a working olive farm, is located about about 3 miles from the heart of Florence, the airport and Autostrada A1. You can see Florence from the property, and the view looking across the little valley to the other olive groves is absolutely beautiful. There's a bus stop at the foot of Il Poggiolo's driveway where you catch the small shuttle bus that runs to the piazza about 1 mile away. From there you catch the city bus directly to the heart of Florence. Trip time is about 25 minutes.
There are two apartments for rent. We stayed in the separate apartment, which has a kitchen, bathroom with shower and large bedroom/living with double bed. It was very private yet just across the courtyard from the main house where a terrific breakfast is served each morning.
What really makes Il Poggiolo unforgettable is host & proprietor, Graziella. She serves as concierge to Florence and Tuscany. She made reservations for us at the Uffizi and Accademia, dinner reservations at local restaurants, and helped us to experience more than we would have otherwise. Also, be sure to treat yourself to Graziella's dinner at Il Poggiolo one night during your stay.
Graziella's more than just a good host: she is a truly good person with a wonderful heart. We were treated as family during our stay. At the same time, our independence was never constrained. Il Poggiolo is the best "Back Door" travel experience you can imagine, a feeling that you've been embraced by another culture - and another family - as one of their own. If you are looking for this type of experience, Il Poggiolo and Graziella's hospitality will be a perfect fit for you. www.il-poggiolo.it/eng.htm or email email@example.com
Chicago, IL USA Sun 11/27/2005
Umbria and Siena
My husband and I enjoyed our first trip to Italy in October 2005. We had a fabulous trip, and as in prior Europe adventures used many of Rick Steve's suggestions. In the Umbria area we stayed at The Pomurlo Vecchio an agriturismo in Baschi. It was terrific! A car is necessary to get there but the drive is easy and absolutely beautiful. Very affordable and gave us exactly the experience we wished to encounter, the feeling of living in Tuscany. We also spent 2 nights at Frances Lodge B&B in Siena. Very beautiful, a little pricy, but a wonderful experience. Frances and Franco really are perfect hosts and are very helpful but respect everyone's privacy. We definitely hope to return to both places, they make great home bases for day excursions.
Pleasant Hill, CA USA Sun 11/27/2005
We stayed at Relais La Corte De Papi found on www.tuscany.net of the www.italyby.com website. Excellent hotel in frigid November. They closed the restaurant in the hotel for 2 weeks but did great recommendations in Cortona and gave us a free botel of wine. Restaurant recc are the Tavena Vino e Pane ( in Ricks) and La Bucaccia. Have fun
Naples, Italy Tue 11/22/2005
My Husband and I recently returned from our first trip to Italy. We stayed at several places in the cities we visited. Our very favorite place is Casa Portagioia nestled in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. The accomodations were attractive and very comfortable. We especially enjoyed our hosts Terry and Marcello who were gracious, amusing and so very helpful securing reservations for the Uffizi,the Accademia, and wine tours. They were able to suggest less publicized but worthwhile places of interest and give us tips on the locals approach to dealing with trains, long lines etc. It was so comforting to return to Casa Portagioia and be able to relax in such peaceful surroundings after a day of sightseeing. We hope to return someday.
Sanford, NC USA Mon 11/21/2005
Fantastic Tuscan Agritourismo near Arezzo:
My wife and I recently returned from a 5 week trip to Europe, all planned with the help of Rick Steve's guidebooks and this website. We found many good recommendations for agritourismos on the graffiti wall and made a reservation to spend a week at Foresteria il Giardino di Fontarronco based on those recommendations and the Foresteria website www.foresteria.it. Foresteria was beautiful and the owner and his staff were friendly and helpful. We stayed in the GRANAIO apartment a thatch-sided cottage on the main garden. It has a bedroom with Queen-sized bed, bathroom, living room, small kitchen, satellite TV, air conditioning and private terrace with a picnic table and gazebo. The common area has a big screen TV, computer with free internet access, and a large swimming pool with plenty of relaxing poolside seating. The villa itself is situated on a thriving 1200 acre farm with groves of apples, pears, and cherries. We arrived early and were met by Eva and Justina, two very nice young ladies who, thankfully, spoke English. They introduced us to our apartment, the villa, and provided maps to the nearby supermarket, post office, ATM, pharmacy and other facilities. Later we met Francesco, the sociable manager, who also speaks English. In addition to being the gracious host, he produces wine and olive oil under Foresteria label. Francesco talked about the history of the villa and the surrounding area and provided directions for our day trips to the Tuscan countryside.
The facility doesn't have a restaurant, but at 9 AM each morning, a local baker stops in front of the Foresteria with a van full of freshly baked pastries, breads, and pizzas. Twice a week Foresteria hosts a wonderful dinner cooked onsite and served in their large dining area. I would recommend attending at least one of these dinners, but be advised that you should arrive with an appetite. The dinner starts at 8 PM and for over two hours you are treated to tasty appetizers, several fantastic courses and dessert. And if you need laundry services, they will collect your laundry and return it the next day, ironed (including socks and underwear!) and neatly folded.
The Foresteria is located 8 kilometers from Arezzo, 45 from Siena, and 60 from Florence. We found that we were in a perfect location to explore the many interesting hill towns Rick Steve's recommends or just take a day off and relax. You'll need a good map of Tuscany and even then you'd be wise to ask Francesco how to get to you daily destination as he'll most likely have some tips that you can't find on the map.
Jerry and Marcella Stansberry
Poulsbo, Wa USA Sat 11/19/2005
italian farm stay
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the website! You might want the contact details for my stay at the farm between Rome and Naples, near Abruzzi NAtional Park. Here it is: the website is italyfarmstay.com, and the phone number is 3402517941.
jeffersonville, NY USA Sun 11/13/2005
Italian farm stay
What a welcome break from the hectic pace of sightseeing in the cities! I loved being surrounded by mountains and olive groves, grape vines and birdsong. I arrived just in time to take the olives to the press and got to watch them being made into olive oil- a highly valued substance here! The real stuff-as green as grass and soooooo tasty! Knowing that I woulnd't find olive oil like this at home in the States, I bought 3 litres, and carried it with me the rest of my trip in my backpack. The weather was beautiful even in NOvember and allowed the other guests and I to take advantage of the outdoor activities such as hiking up the mountain and thorugh the gorge to the waterfall, and the Horseback riding lesson with the only real cowboy in Italy. This one loves Neil YOUng, Johnny CAsh, and John Denver, and I was grateful to hear music from home
jeffersonville, NY USA Sun 11/13/2005
Fabulous Agriturismo Near Pienza
Our stay at the truly remarkable Agriturismo Cretaiole(website www.cretaiole.it, email firstname.lastname@example.org) near Pienza in southern Tuscany was unforgettable, and gave us some of our most treasured memories of our trip to Italy. Our apartment in a lovely 14th-century farmhouse had heartbreakingly beautiful postcard-perfect views of the Val d'Orcia countryside (in fact views along the same road show up again and again on postcards and calendars of Tuscany). But even more extraordinary was the hospitality of the hosts, Isabella and the rest of the Moricciani family. They were extremely warm and welcoming, but beyond that they also had organized activities, that made our stay there truly memorable. One evening we had a very enjoyable and enlightening olive oil tasting session, and then Isabella arranged for us all to have dinner at the nearby Sant'Anna Monastery (where "The English Patient" was filmed). Another evening Isabella and her mother-in-law Liliana taught us how to make pici, the local hand-rolled pasta. When we were done each of us took some of the pici to our apartments to have for dinner (along with some of Liliana's special ragu sauce, and salad greens which we picked from the vegetable garden). In the summer they set a table outside and everyone has their pici dinner together.
Cretaiole is extremely family-friendly too. Our 5-year old daughter says it was her single favorite place in all of Italy! Wonderful value and a truly remarkable place.
Chicago, IL USA Fri 11/11/2005
Le Marche Region Italy Il Casato
Ah, Le Marche region of Italy. As pretty ( if not prettier) than Tuscany;sans the tourists.Mario Borio owner/farmer/vintner of the Il Casato Agriturismo in Castelraimondo , was the highlight of our 3 week trip last month to Europe and Israel. Not only is his Inn set in a picture book location ( we spent a few minutes every day just looking out our windows at the countryside); but his wife Mara is a fabulouse ( fabuuloso - using Mario's favorite word for everything in the Marche region, from the vineyards, olive groves , to the medieval towns , to the Asssassi Caves, to the fabulous coastline which suddendly appears right in front of you as you drop to the sea from the mountains). Although not a tour guide , he was a wonderful tour director( some with him as the guide). We had only planned to eat breakfast as part of the B &B but had dinner at Il Casato 5 of the 6 nightws we were there - it was that good ( lunch too on one occassion).
Schenectady , NY USA Tue 11/08/2005
Castello di Modanella in Tuscany
We had a wonderful time in April of 2004 at Castello di Modanello just south of Sienna in the Tuscany area. There were 14 of us on a special Rick Steves seven day tour after a wedding in Bellagio on Lake Como. We had requested a stay at a county (agriturismo) location since one couple on the trip were farmers and like to see other agricultural areas around the world. RS Tours had never had anyone stay at this old castle, but we were willing to try it out.
Everything was wonderful. The rooms were very spacious and comfortable. There are vinyards and olive groves surrounding the Castle out buildings. We all sat out on the lawn and had a few bottles of wine and just marveled at this special place in Tuscany.
The food, specially prepared for our group, was delicious. We stayed for two nights, one of which was my brother's birthday. The staff prepared a special wine tasting and special meal for the celebration. The food was great. We heartily recommend the Castello Di Modanella (www.castellodimodanello.it) for any group looking for a special, relaxing agrituristmo experience in Tuscany. We took a day trip to Sienna and had a great time.
Spring, TX USA Tue 11/08/2005
Italy Farm Stay, Abruzzi National Park
Our experience at Italy Farm Stay was one that was unforgettable, to say the least. From the surrounding landscape that was breathtaking, to the quaint neighboring villages, to the friendly and accommodating family who owned the farm, the Italy Farm Stay was a place of beautiful memories. Our host, Antonello, and his family made us feel as if they were in fact, our family. Antonello welcomed us into his life, picking us up, driving us around town, having drinks and dinner with us, and even invited us to spend time with his friends. Antonello is humorous, philosophical, intellectual, and adventurous, all qualities for both a great host and friend. He took us on a gorgeous mountainside hike down through a refreshing waterfall gorge and introduced us to the local sheep herder and cheese maker (where we got to sample freshly made cheese). His mother, Maria, gave us our own private authentic Italian cooking lesson which was both fun and tasty (which included ingredients that were entirely organic and grown on the farm). We had so many wonderful moments of great laughter, especially when we tried to mount and ride his Donkey. I highly recommend experiencing the Farm and all that it has to offer. For sure, we plan on visiting Antonello and his family again.
The website is: www.italyfarmstay.com and the number is 340 2517941
It is a great place to stop between Rome and Naples (we stopped there between Rome and Pompei).
Oceanside, New York USA Sun 11/06/2005
Agriturismo in Abruzzi National Park between Rome and Naples
Antonello was a great host from start to finish. He picked us up at the station in Sora, arranged for horseback riding, and a hike down a canyon to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen. It was a great break from the crowds of the big city, and since I am a big fan of nature and farm living, it was fun to be in a place with fresh air and good food. There was plenty of space to walk around and enjoy a peaceful break on the farm itself, and the animals were cool too. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone that is a fan of getting off the beaten path and wants to see another side of Italy not yet in the tourist guidebook. It was a great place to stop for a break on the way from Rome to Naples and Pompeii. It is well served by bus and located just on the edge of Abruzzi National Park. One final thanks to Maria for cooking excellent meals, the food alone is worth traveling to this place. If you plan to be in Italy check this place out www.italyfarmstay.com
Portland, OR USA Thu 11/03/2005
Torre del Fondo
Have just returned from wonderful vacation in Italy. Stayed for 1 week at Torre del Fondo farmhouse outside of Ferrara. Did "day-trips" from there to several areas in Emilia-Romagna. Had the entire 2nd floor to ourselves. Very nice stay. Facilities are a little on the "rustic" side, at least in kitchen area, but an excellent value. Self-check-in service is nice. Facilities seemed very secure. Wonderful little village (Coronella) nearby. Not a working farm, so there is little to do during the day - we planned for this and essentially used it as base for exploring the area. Ferrara, about a 15 minute drive, is a great place to visit, especially on market day. Website: http://www.torredelfondo.com/INGLESE/inizialeI2.htm
Maryville, Tennessee USA Wed 11/02/2005
We just returned from two weeks on our latest trip to Italy - Rome and Tuscany this time. We spent our week in Tuscany at the Molinello, which we found in Rick's book. Great place - relatively basic rooms at a wonderful price about 5km or so from Asciano. Rick calls Alessandro and Elisa "Hard working" - possibly the understatement of all understatements. Wonderful hosts - we spent 4 hours of one afternoon learning about wines and polishing off 5 bottles of Vernaccia, Chianti, Rosso, Nobile, and Brunello (between 4 of us) while Alessandro instructed us on wine tasting, growing, agrigulcture, and Italian life, and Elisa made wouthwatering Tuscan specialties. Their 2 labs love children, as does their cat. Lots of room and toys for the kids, and an above-ground pool in the summers. Plus a washing machine for free use. A super place for hopping off to Siena, Firenze, and the central-Eastern Tuscan hilltowns. www.molinello.com
Greece Mon 10/31/2005
In Tuscany between Pienza and Siena is a jewel of a place called Agrtiurismo Cretaiole run by the Moricciani family. They provided so much info on nearby towns, where to eat, bike rides, wine tastings ect.. We were able to catch a pasta making class when we were there and an olive oil tasting session. We learned a lot about the region and its agriculture.
Isabella and her family were so nice and helpful. The room was very charming and had an at home feel to it.
I highly reccomend their farmhouse, it was the best of Italy for my husband and I , exactly what you dream about when you think of italy.
Tacoma, Wa USA Sat 10/29/2005
near Arezzo, great location for everything!
I first found out about the Foresteria il Giardino di Fontarronco here, and everything I read was proved true!
My husband and I stayed here for a week during our summer vacation and have only good things to say about it.
The nice and professional website says it all - the owner, Francesco, has spared no expense in making the Foresteria truly magnificent. www.foresteria.it
We stayed in Betto, which is near the old well on the far side of the main villa. We chose this apartment because it was the lowest price (what do you expect from two med students!) and just loved it. The apartment was clean, cute and quaint. The furniture was like out of a country cottage...the kind I'd expect in the south of France or (appropriately) Tuscany. The kitchen had a full size fridge and even though we didn't actually need it, the mosquito net over the bed just added to the romantic feel.
Anyway, we stayed at the Foresteria after a week of sightseeing in Venice and then Rome, and all we wanted to do was relax. This was truly the perfect place to do just that. Our room had a very private little terrace with picnic table where we would picnic with breakfast and lunch every day. Speaking of breakfast, Roberto, the baker who delivers sweets every morning was so helpful and from what I sampled while traveling, VERY good at what he does! (The cream filled croissants are to die for!!) Usually after our leisurely breakfast we would then stroll past the apple and pear trees, over to the pool. Of course walking around the canals in Venice is mesmerizing and exploring the ruins of Ancient Rome is memorable, but nothing we experienced in Italy was as UNIQUE as laying by the pool and listening to the birds chirp and the fruit pickers in the distance chatter away in the beautiful song-like Italian language. Occasionally Francesco would come around to see how we were doing, and on several afternoons we sat and chatted with him for a bit before he left to go prepare dinner.
The dinners!! My goodness, we thought we were stuffed after all the pizzas we'd eaten in Rome, but somehow we managed to find the room for these home-cooked Tuscan meals that were course after course of exquisite food. And the wine was also so good ... these dinners were a great way to end the days.
If you have the chance, I HIGHLY reccomend staying at the Foresteria il Giardino di Fontarronco. You won't be disappointed!!
Hoboken, NJ USA Thu 10/27/2005
Just returned from a 3 week stay in Italy. One week was spent at AGRITURISMO BELLAVISTA, ph # 39-055-833-5143,in Incisa Valdarno ( outside Florence) It was beautiful,reasonable, spotless and very convenient for visiting Chianti,Tuscany and Florence. I highly recommend it.
cleveland, oh USA Wed 10/19/2005
La Crociana at Montalcino
We recently had the pleasure of spending 5 days at the La Crociana agriturismo in Montalcino. We are happy to pass along our heartiest recommendations. We had a clean and well equipped apartment and were only a 5 minute drive from Montalcino. The owner is a wonderful woman named Fiorella and she made us feel like old friends. It is a great spot to use as a base for day trips (we especially liked Pienza)and the pool was a godsend after a hot day roaming around. Another big plus is a wonderful restaurant located about 100 meters away with an outdoor covered eating area that was open to the sights and smells of the surrounding vineyards (the food was as great as the atmosphere). Fiorella's Brunello wine is a rare treat and worth the trip in itself. La Crociana provided us with the feel of rural Italian life and a warm welcome that we will never forget!
Bellingham, WA USA Sun 09/18/2005
Based on some internet reviewers, we decided to book our summer vacation at Foresteria Il Giardino di Fontarronco since location and type of accommodation were corresponding as what we were looking for. We booked directly from the owner and we paid a very reasonable weekly price. Our choice wasn't so easy because in Tuscany there are thousand of Villas, agriturismos and farmhouses, but after we checked in we immediately understood that our decision to book at Foresteria was absolutely right. The first impression we felt at arrival was like to introduce our self into a different world….. The Garden was very well care and the atmosphere very special….! The girls who we met Justina and Eva are absolutely wonderful! They brought us to the unit (we reserve a double bedroom unit called Granaio) and gave us information about area and restaurants in the surrounding.
Our unit was very well decorated and very comfortable. 30 square meters spread on living room with a small kitchen, a double bedroom (the bed is a queen size) and the bathroom.
On the property there is also a restaurant but opens just twice a week! On Monday and Thursday night! We only complain that the restaurant was too good to be open just 2 nights!. The food is definitely the best we had during our vacation! Especially the beef, the zucchini soufflé and the Tiramisù! The staff is friendly and young and is always available on the ground to talk or give you some advices. We usually don't like big Resort and family atmosphere was what we were looking for. We found it at Foresteria. The agriturismo is just perfect! The location, the food, the staff! They made feel our self at home mostly of the time we where there.
Overall, the location is excellent! We moved to most important sights in Tuscany! Upon Francesco's advice (Francesco is the owner), we have been also to Florence by train and was comfortable and easy - just 30 minutes! There are 2 or 3 trains every hour from Arezzo station. It is just 5 minutes driving away. We've been to Assisi and Gubbio as well. Assisi is 70 kms by car, Gubbio is just a bit farer, however, easy to reach.
Our favourite village, however, was Civitella! Civitella is still an original Tuscan village, where fe found any tourists! It is a medieval hill top village destroyed during the second war of the world and a bit reformed. Now there are a couple of small and typical restaurants, one of them has a terrace on the main square of the castle, the view is just unbelievable!
We definitely recommend the Foresteria to everyone, we think the Foresteria is just PERFECT! We hope to come back in the future, hopefully with some friends and rent one bigger unit!
Veronique and Paul Marsot
Paris, France Fri 09/16/2005
We stayed at La Cretaiole, near Pienza. The 14th century stone farmhouse, in a picture-perfect setting with vistas in every direction, reflects the antiquity and natural harmony of Tuscany. But what really sets La Cretaiole apart is the family that runs it. They share their garden, farm products, and knowledge of local sights. They teach guests how to make the local pasta and how to evaluate olive oil, and once a week they serve a farm feast to their guests. They make their guests feel like family. As a result of the organized activities, the guests become friends with each other. Isabella Moricciani speaks excellent English and will do everything in her power to make your visit perfect.
Boston, MA USA Tue 09/13/2005
check out www.chianticlassico.com.
We were looking for an agriturismo in Tuscany and found this website. They sent us a free map of the region with a list of wineries and contact information. I found many websites where I was able to look at the apartments/villas and decide which one I liked best.
SD, CA USA Sat 09/10/2005
Cretaoile-agriturismo in Pienza area
"Cretaiole" is such a treasure, I'm almost tempted to keep it a secret! This agriturismo, situated 4 km from Pienza and perched on a hill, offers one of the most beautiful views in Tuscany, the Val d'Orcia. It is perfectly located to use as a base for visiting all the small medieval towns of the region, by car or bicyle, as well as easy access to wonderful walking through the countryside. The 1300's farmhouse has been completely renovated into 6-7 beautifully furnished apartments, each with a private bathroom and entrance, and yet remarkably affordable. The guests are invited to make full use of the extensive vegetable garden, bicycles, toys and swings, outdoor eating areas, pingpong table etc There is plenty of room on this large property for guests to maintain privacy or to mingle with others as desired. But the most wonderful thing about Cretaoile (pronounced cray-tie-OH-lay, I think!) is the warm, welcoming family that owns it. Luciano and Liliana Moricciani are a delightful, hardworking couple that bend over backwards to make your stay comfortable. They are helped by their daughter Laura, son Carlo and their indispensible daughter-in-law Isabella who speaks fluent English, French and German. Isabella makes everything easy to accomplish. This family makes you want to become one of their own. Guests are invited to participate in making hand-rolled pasta called pici (absolutely great experience for all-our group included families and couples, plus a pair of honeymooners and everyone enjoyed it immensely), and then to eat with the entire family that night, a veritable feast with many of the foods that the family produces on their farm-fabulous olive oil (which has completely spoiled me for life from buying cheap imitations), wonderful chianti, cured meats etc. Guests are also treated to tour an ancient "romitorio", an Etruscan tomb the family owns, that is not open to the public-one of the most interesting sites we visited in Italy. Other activities for guests include olive oil tasting, a tour of Siena, and seasonally, participation in the farm work if desired.
We can't wait to go back to Cretaiole, and would like to experience all four seasons there, at some point. Also, I would like to learn more Italian, in order to converse with Luciano and Liliana, who so want to get to know their guests. Don't miss this place-it's a gem.
or email at email@example.com
Clifton, VA USA Tue 09/06/2005
Cretaiole is more than just a place to stay. We currently live in Naples, Italy and decided to stay in Tuscany with a visiting sister from California. We've been all over Europe but have met few people as friendly and accommodating as what you'll find at Cretaiole. No kidding, we couldn't have asked for more. Unfortunately, we could only stay a few days and missed the scheduled pasta making which all guests participate. Well, to our surprise, we were invited for a special pasta session and lunch with the entire Family. What an awesome and experience. My sister was so overjoyed by the hospitaliy and beauty of the area she literally cried with happiness. It was a vacation of a lifetime for her. Plus, it's not all about Cretaiole. Tuscany is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Can't speak the language? Could be a problem in most parts of Italy. . .but not at Cretaiole. You'll find English spoken and well translated itineraries as part of your accommodations complete with pictures, directions, and historical perspective on the entire area. You're encouraged to get out and experience a country side where little has changed for centuries. You really gotta do it and see for yourself!!!! You won't be disappointed.
Earl and Bel Smith
Honolulu , HI USA Sun 08/28/2005
Renting apartments for less than a week
John, Do you know if we can rent an apartment at Le Busche di Viesca for only two or three nights? It looks like a gorgeous place from their website. Thanks for any help with this.
USA Wed 08/17/2005
Al Benefizio - Barga
We recently returned from a stay in Northern Tuscany near Barga. We had a very memorable trip, the highlight of which was staying at Al Benefizio. Francesca and Francesco were the most welcoming and gracious hosts you could imagine. Francesca speaks wonderful English and was of great to help us with our travel plans before and while we were in Barga. She gave us insights to events in near by towns and great day hikes to take. We enjoyed learning how they make honey and olive oil on their farm. Our apartment was very clean and comfortable and was decorated in rustic Tuscan style. While visiting with Franceca, Francesco and their family and friends, we got a great appreciation and understanding of the people of Italy...way more that we would have staying in a hotel in a city. We strongly recommend this place to future travelers! www.albenefizio.it
Dave and Vicki Sime
Redmond, OR USA Mon 08/15/2005
Agritrusimo in Assisi - La Fornace
I would strongly recommend against staying at LaFornace (an agriturismo) in Assisi. As a family of four, we were looking forward to "a lovely apartment, bikes and games for kids, beautiful pool area, friendly help." None of this happened. Anna was extremely unfriendly, unhelpful, and could not understand English well (book said SE) When she left for two days, her substitute spoke no English and closed the office by 6:00. No one was willing or wanting to help out by telling us about the area, or where things were. The pool area was very pretty, but infested with bees. Freezing cold showers were a daily occurrence, and the dishwasher/laundry facilities did not work well. While the apartment price was reasonable, to get breakfast was quite expensive. We actually left one day early we were so disillusioned. We never expected perfection, but in every other place we stayed in Italy, people were very friendly and helpful. We tried very hard to drum up friendly conversation, but no one was interested. Perhaps it was a bad week, but LaFornace ruined our taste of Tuscany.
Bellingham, WA USA Sun 07/31/2005
Il Limoneto, Sicily (Outside of Siracusa)
My friend and I decided to stay here for a few days rest. What a fun, peaceful place. (You do need a car as we found out.) We had a lovely room, #8, facing a lemon grove (yes we took some lemons!!) The owners are very helpful and friendly and speak a little English. The breakfasts were ok and the dinners were wonderful. We stayed a Saturday night and they had a buffet of about 30 vegetable dishes, prepared all ways, pizza, cheeses, pineapple. It was fantastic! For dessert they brought out little lemon tarts which were warm and out of this world. We also had their Limoncello. I would stay there again if in the area. It is close to Siracusa (6 mi.) and Ortigia so after a hectic day or days of sightseeing in the busy city, it is nice to drive out to the solitude of the country and experience this place. They have a couple of rooms with lofts for children.
Canoga Park, CA USA Thu 07/28/2005
http://www.agriturismoviesca.com/ was a great farmhouse, newly renovated, about 25 kilometers outside of Florence. Marcello, Angela and Luigi couldn't have been more helpful, the rooms were clean and comfortable and once you find your way the first time it is convenient to the highways for enjoying the surrounding areas, Siena, San Gimingnano, San Lucignano, Greve etc. Great value, great place to stay. Make sure to buy enough of Marcello's sensational Olive oil!!!!
Chandler, AZ USA Sat 07/23/2005
Incredible and Affordable Country Villa in Tuscany with Private pool and views
Just got back from an incredible week at Casa Verde on the border of Tuscany and Umbria. The house (independent - not attached) and the property were perfect--very private (and yet not too remote). And we had our own private pool with exquisite views. We also had our own olives, grapes and fruit grown on the property. We searched long and hard for a property of this time (and for this price) and it met and exceeded all expectations. We were close to all Umbria and Tuscany had to offer and we loved our sweet Italian caretakers, Dino and Maria.
We found it at this website:http://www.vrbo.com/37181 and their email (it is owned by Americans) is firstname.lastname@example.org
San Luis Obispo, CA USA Tue 07/19/2005
After researching & reading reviews of others we reserved accomodations w/ Hotel "Casprini Da Omero" outside of Greve. The pictures from the website are deceiving at best. The public rooms were ill-kept and piled w/ trash. At the check-in desk there were odd bits of paper & debris strewn about and a dirty cup w/ some liquid in the bootom into which a cigarette had been stubbed. It took one of the owner's friends @ 15 minutes to find the owner to help check us in. The owner was ill-kept and not at all clean. We sought accomodations elsewhere.
Karen E. Nikula
Forsyth, GA USA Fri 07/15/2005
il Mulino delle Pile
I loved my stay at http://www.agriturismoilmulino.com/index_en.htm It was pretty remote but definitely worth the drive for the experience. Everything at the agriturismo was top-notch: the food, the rooms, the surroundings, and the people. Would definitely recommend it if you are traveling in Tuscany.
Washington, DC USA Tue 07/12/2005
My sister and I just returned from spending 5 days at Villa Terrano as well. Our hosts Naomi and Stefano treated us like family and made our stay very pleasant. The villa gives you a hint at what life might have been like in the Tuscan hills hundreds of years ago.(but with all the modern conveniences) The staff was great, attending to our needs and feeding us some of the best food we ate while in Italy. The surroundings have a rustic charm and if horseback riding is your thing, this is the place to come..of if you want to just enjoy the Tuscan life. it's only a 15 minute train ride from Florence & a 10 minute ride up to the hills. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Patti
Phoenix, AZ USA Mon 07/11/2005
As my husband and were reserving our stay at Borgo Argenina, we thought "This looks nice", but when we got there, we were astonished by the beauty of the setting and by the incredible hospitality of our hostess Elena Nappa. She was wonderful from the moment we arrived at the B&B. She offered us extremely good advice on what to visit. We were going stay in various towns around the Chianti region, but Borgo Argenina is so centrally located that we decided to stay put for the whole 10 days and drive around to the various twons we wanted to visit, (i.e. Volterra, San Gimignano, Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino) which made things even more relaxing. What a vacation. We highly recommend Borgo Argenina, located on the top of a hill, in an idyllic setting. You won't regret it!
Boca Raton, FL USA Sun 07/10/2005
B&B Siena, Tuscany
We highly recommend BORGO ARGENINA, a group of renovated farm houses just outside of Siena, Tuscany. Borgo is located at the top of a hill, overlooking vineyards as far as the eye can see. The view is absolutely unbelievable! Owner Elena Nappa (former designer from Milan) did an incredible job of renovating these farmhouses--rustic looking yet very comfortable with modern amenities. We stayed in the Villa Olivera, a 2BR, 2BA house with full kitchen, LR, and dining area. Elena is a great hostess and her dog, Bianca, acts as ambassador by welcoming guests and frequenting the various villas to "check" on you. Breakfast is simple, with good coffee. The grounds are impeccable--gardens covered in lavender, rosemary, and every color of blooming flower you can imagine. Elena's website is right on target as far as the pictures go. It's really that beautiful. Reminder to Americans that there is no A/C (doubt you would find it anywhere in Tuscany), however, Borgo's location on a hilltop allows for very cool evening breezes which was very comfortable, even during the heat wave in June 2005 (while we were there). Would definitely stay here again and recommend to all our friends.
Houston, TX USA Sat 07/02/2005
Le Case Gialle
We stayed in an apartment in a fabulous place called Le Case Gialle www.lecasegialle.it in Umbria, near the towns of Bevagne and Montefalco. Located down a peaceful country lane, its ony a 10 minute drive to each of these towns which are both stunning; and then short drives to Assisi, Trevi and other hill towns. The accommodation is beautiful - stone restored farm house, spacious, beautifully furnished "Tuscan" antique style, great kitchen and stunning garden with a huge pool that looks over the olive groves to the hill towns. There are 4 apartments and one cottage. We were there for 5 nights in May at a cost of E65 per night (for two of us). It was the cheapest place we stayed in in Italy and one of our favourites. Sylvanna, the owner speaks English and each morning her husband delivers a loaf of fresh baked bread and a newspaper in appropriate language to the door. Le Case Gialle is about 40 klm from Spoleto, and an easy drive.
Brisbane, QLD Australia Thu 06/30/2005
Favourite near Pienza
If you are looking for a gorgeous Tuscan experience - which is more than just "accommodation", then don't pass up Agriturismo Cretaiole. Located about 8 minutes drive from the beautiful town of Pienza, down the winding driveway, sits the lovely stone building, which contains 6 apartments ranging in size from 3 bedrooms to studio size. All are decorated in "Tuscan" style, oozing charm, comfortable but not pretentious. Good functional bathroom, huge verandah covered in roses and looking out over the view to Pienza, BBQ, lawn furniture scattered under trees to sit with a bottle of wine...There's a fireplace in each apartment, and in the studio apartment, there's the most complex kitchen imaginable - a "kitchen in a cupboard" but one in which we managed to cook meals for 4 people with no trouble! (There's a dish washer in the largest apartment and a rumour that others will also soon be equiped!) And then there's the organic vegetable garden for guest's use - nothing like picking fresh greens and herbs - straight from garden to plate! Using of course the complementary bottle of olive oil, and washed down with the wine given on arrival).One of the best things about Cretaiole however, is Isabella, a member of the Pienza farming family who own the place.Isabella is one of the most welcoming people imaginable, and organises all sorts of wonderful experiences for guests including guided tours, meals in ancient "mystery" destinations, and private tours of the Etruscan tomb which is located on the family farm and is an experience not to be missed... with ancient carvings, complex rooms carved out of the rock... and Isabella's amazing knowledge and love of the local history. If you are travelling with children, Cretaiole caters for them also, with a huge array of toys in the garden for their use. We spent 6 weeks travelling and Cretaiole is one place we are definitiely going back to!
Brisbane, QLD Australia Thu 06/30/2005
Horse-riding through the hills of Tuscany
We just returned from a wonderful stay at the Villa Terreno, located 30 mins from central Florence. The Villa is set on a remote hillside outside of Rufina, the heart of the Chianti wine region. Of all the places we've stayed, this by far gave us the true Tuscan experience. A warm and inviting family (owner Naomi speaks perfect english), wonderfully authentic Tuscan cuisine, and breathtaking views from every angle created a perfect place to relax and settle in to a few days of quiet country life. The Villa Terreno was also very affordable! For a large room with great views and our own bathroom in the recently renovated 400-year-old villa, plus FULL board, the price was only 75€ per person! There is an apartment you can rent as well that sleeps 4- great for families with children.
Villa Terreno's focus is horse riding- they give lessons to beginners and offer trail rides through the surrounding hills where you will trot past vinyards, olive groves, thick forest, pastures of wild sweet peas, fields of poppies, old abandonded villas...you get the picture! Jovial owner and guide Stefano makes sure to give guests a taste of the region by stopping for drinks or pizza at local cantinas!
Although the villa offers quiet seclusion, it is only a simple 20-minute train ride to Florence S.M.N station- great for day tripping! Naomi will pick you up and drop you off at the station in Rufina if you don't have a car.
The Villa was a great find- Naomi and Stefano want nothing more than to make you feel at home; We can't thank them enough for their hospitality! Their website with all contact info (in need of updating, but has the correct pricing) is http://www.villaterreno.com.
We can't wait to go back! Feel free to email me with any questions, or email Naomi and Stefano directly at email@example.com
Minneapolis, mn USA Sat 06/25/2005
Borgo Argenina B&B just north of Siena
On our recent vacation to Italy, my husband and I stayed at a beautiful B&B 14 km north of Siena called Borgo Argenina. Borgo Argenina is a thousand year old hamlet that once belonged to the great Baron Firidolfi Ricasoli (as did most of the land in what is now consitered Classical Chianti area). This hamlet is now a wonderfully restored B&B consisting of rooms in the main house, two little house cottages, and a villa. The tasteful decorations perfectly compliment the architecture and the rural setting with spectacular views of the vineyards and tuscan sunsets. We rented one of the house cottages and used this as our base for Tuscan day trips for an entire week. From here, you can easily drive to Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, and San Galgano. Plus Florence is about 1 hour away, so you could even go there for a day. Moreover, there are many charming castles and towns within 15 min. area in the Classical Chianti area itself; these towns are not as touristy as the above mentioned ones, thus making you feel like they are your own little slice of the tuscan paradise. Many of the castles now house working wineries where you can stop for a lunch and a tour. You do need a good map of the area, more detailed than the Michelin road atlass, which you can obtain at one of the many Tourist Info kiosks in the small towns and even along the road. Elena, who is the owner and who cares for Borgo Argenina, speaks English and is also an excellent source of great restaurant recommendations in the area and historical background information to help you better understand and enjoy this little piece of countryside. Plus she makes a great breakfast every morning and even lets you snip a few vegetables and herbs from her lovely garden for your lunch. I have traveled in Europe before and also all over the U.S. and I am very objective about hotels and B&Bs and what they offer. I just cannot get over how amazing our stay was at Borgo Argenina. All I can tell you is that for a week, I lived in a fairy tale, which I still remember fondly. See for yourself, go to http://www.borgoargenina.it/index.html. Best way to get reservations is via email.
Downers Grove, IL USA Mon 06/20/2005
Tuscany Agriturismo near Florence
We had the most memorable stay outside Florence during May in the agriturismo B&B Il-Poggiolo. The property is somewhat difficult to find but, after one trip, we were experts in getting around the area - ten minutes to town in one direction and 2 km up the road to a suprisingly good, out-of-the-way ristorante in the other direction. The owner, Graziella Camillioni, is a wonderful, cheerful person who looked after all our needs from reserving tickets to local museums and art galleries, to suggesting day trips, and ristorantes. Il-Poggiolo is situated in an olive grove and has one large and one smaller apartment to rent. The smaller unit is separate from the main house and has a direct view of nearby Florence. It was the most relaxing part of our trip to Italy and we can't wait to go back. More information can be obtained at her website http://www.il-poggiolo.it/eng.htm which contains pictures of her property. We highly recommend a stay at Il Poggiolo!
Erik and Anne Saether
Yorktown, VA USA Mon 06/20/2005
Cretaiole Agritourismo-- Awesome!
Last year I discovered an agritourismo called Cretaiole (www.cretaiole.it) near Pienza in Toscana. The 300 year old farm house is completely refurbished into beautiful Tuscan style apartments and sits a top a lush hill looking back towards the beautiful town of Pienza. The views are remarkable and breathtaking! Every moring I would wake, brew a cup of cafe latte & hang out the window in awe of the incredible beauty of the Creta Sensei, a nature preserve of ancient volcanic land of rich & fetile clay.
Perhaps it's the incredible beauty of the land that is reflected by the people who live there, for never have I met such 'real', warm and truely kind people, as the Moricciani family, who own and operate Creatiole. I am not exaggerating when I say that they have bent over backwards to insure that we had the absolute best Tuscan experience imaginable.
Isabella Moricciani is truely a gem. She knows 4 languages and is a wealth of knowledge about every restaurant, monestary, terme spa, and cultural activity happening in the area. She has been incredibly helpful in planning my next trip to the area. Her husband Carlo runs the farm with his father Luciano. They grow olives, grapes and have a full farm with sheep, pigs and chickens. They are master winemakers as well & gave us a tour of their small winery providing samples of all the varieties including the sweet vin santo and the powerful grappa (yumm!). Luciano's sweet wife, Lilliana and daughter Laura work with Isabella operating Creatiole for the guests. Each week they generously teach their guests how to make the local 'pici' pasta, then host a party in the garden, where we dined on all of the products grown and raised on the farm. Delicious! All the produce in their organic garden was available to pick for our dinners. We had salads, tomatoes and zuccinni fresh from the garden every night.
My heart aches to return to such beauty and I am constantly online planning my next oportunity to get back to Cretaiole and the kind Moirciannni family. Check it out if you are looking for a true Tuscan experience, where you will meet a local Tuscan family and participate in the beauty of their lives, if only for one week. You will not leave untouched by this beauty.
Park City, Utah USA Sun 06/19/2005
My husband and I recently returned from 3 weeks in Italy. We stayed or visited at 3 great B&Bs. One is in Casperia, about one hour NE of Rome. Owned and run by a family it is in a quiet hill town with stunning views. One of the owners was born in Wales so everyone speaks great English. They provide a number of extra services including tours, pick up at the rail station and weddings!. This was our second year with them. The name La Torretta and the web site, http://www.latorrettabandb.com/ Another great family run place is in Meta which is south of Naples. Meta is on the commuter rail line so going into Naples, Pompei, Vesuvius or Sorrento is not a problem. Like Casperia, Meta is a small untouristed town. Plus the town is on the Bay of Naples and has a beach. The B&B is Orchid Corner. Carmela and Tonino are the best. This was our second year with them also. Here is their web site. http://www.orchidcorner.net/index.php?lng=en
Finally, one that we visited but did not get to stay at but plan to stay there next year is Podere Sant'Alessandro. It is in a great location between Siena, Cortona and Florence. Wonderful family that runs it, beautiful rooms and great views. They have 2 web sites but the pictures on the sites don't begin to show how nice the place is. http://www.santalessandro.com/
These places are all great and we will continue to return.
Vienna, VA USA Wed 06/15/2005
Wonderful stay near Ferrara north Bologna
La Rocchetta is a bed and breakfast and restaurant on the farm. Franca and Romana are wonderful hosts and so delightful and generous. We felt so much at home and part of the family. They grow their food and prepare meals in their restaurant. Ferrara is out of the way but the friendliness and wonderful food make this worth a visit. See their website at www.larocchetta.com. Highly recommended.
Garry & Heidi Scoville,
American Fork, UT USA Mon 06/13/2005
SUPER Friendly Agriturismo
The friendliest Agriturismo of all. We have stayed at Il Vecchio Frantoio twice now. The host family is multi lingual (7 languages) and can provide meals and guided trips in the area - This is "a must go to place" and meet Frans, Giordana and Chiara. Located close to Orvieto outside of Fabro. check it out - www.ilvecchiofrantoio.com
Oswego, IL USA Wed 06/08/2005
Agriturismo in Calabria
Here is a website about the agriturismo in Calabria: http://www.agritour.net/Agritour/Produzione/Basic.php?idAgr=794&lang=en
Tampa, Fl. USA Mon 06/06/2005
Best value & location in Tuscany
We just returned from our trip and it was wonderful!!! We stayed for a week in an agriturismo, the Foresteria Il Giardino di Fontarronco (phone 011-039-0575-846044, fax 011-039-0575-846045, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.foresteria.it), near Arezzo, Tuscany, ITALY, in May 05. We chose it based on a review posted by Judith Okner from San Diego on Graffiti Wall(Fri 11/12/2004).
Forty kilometers from Siena and 60 kilometers from Florence, the converted 18th-century villa and outbuilding (converted into 10 apartments) are in an orchard setting with lovely grounds and a pool.Our accommodation was a 3-story apartment. The first floor had a basic kitchen (toaster oven) and a living room with table, chairs, love seat and TV but few amenities. On the second floor was a bedroom and bath, and above that was a sleeping loft for a third person. We paid about $800 for the week, off-season.
They served one or two meals on the premises once or twice a week, bringing in a chef when they were assured of having 10 diners. We had one meal there and it was the best we had on our trip--four or five courses, with wine, for 89 [euro] ($118).
The best thing was Francesco, the owner. He was on hand every day, all day, and was wonderful in helping to plan our days. He had touring suggestions and restaurant recommendations. He was helpful when we wanted to spend a day in Florence, giving us train schedules and calling ahead for reservations for the Ufizzi, Accademia and Pitti Palace. When we left Tuscany for the Amalfi Coast, Francesco called our next hotels to assure us of good directions.We'll definitely recommend Foresteria to anyone looking to visit Tuscany.Libbie
Miami, Florida USA Thu 05/26/2005
*** Correction ***The website for the agriturismo in Monti in the Chianti area as noted below is //www.agriturismoporcellina.itMy apologies/ Connie
Gord and Connie
surrey, BC Can Wed 05/25/2005
We just returned from 3 weeks in Italy and spent one in the Chianti area. As all these postings show - the hospitality there is amazing. Our stay was in an agriturismo in the small village of Monti, about a 15 minute drive from Siena on the SS408- the "Castle Road". Our hosts Giorgio and Paola treated us like family. Although they don't speak English/ their daughter does/ it didn't seem to matter.
They have 3 self contained apartments in a farmhouse with a pool and the most incredible views over valleys and hills. The olive grove is beside the farmhouse and his vineyard across the road. On our Saturday arrival we were invited to lunch the next day, not knowing what to expect. Turns out they have a kitchen built in the farmhouse just for these lunches. They cooked and we ate for 3 hours, chatting with the other guests - from Rome and Vienna. Both couples have stayed here many times before due to the warmth and hospitality of the hosts. There was a total of 24 people for lunch,including family and theeir daughter's friend. The owner has truffle dogs and we were treated to the results of their labours and found the pasta with tartufo (truffle) sauce delicious! The apartments were spotless and rustic and the price was great. Their website is www.turismoporcellina.it. This was one of the highlights of our trip.
Gord and Connie
Surrey, BC CDA Sun 05/22/2005
We just returned from 12 days in Italy. Our entire trip was planned using Rick Steves Italy 2005. From Roma (Capo d' Africa) Siena (Frances Ladge) Firenze (Plaza Luccesi)and Venezia (Hotel Giorgione-stay in a junior suite). At Frances Lodge Frances and Franco are great hosts. The B&B is located on property owned by Franco's property for many generations. During our stay 5 couples were there. Each couple relied heavily on Rick Steves for their trip (and wouldn't have found Frances Lodge without it). The contractors have just finished work on a new room which will be the best. The views are great overlooking the valley and surrounding mountains including the walled city. Rick couldn't have been more right on when he described Siena. The only thing that I would add about the City is that it feels like you are walking through an MC Escher print.
Cleveland, OH USA Thu 05/19/2005
Tuscany Agriturismo near Pienza
We just returned from a wonderful stay at Cretaiole, an agriturismo near Pienza, about 45 minutes south of Siena. Cretaiole is a fourteenth century stone farmhouse carefully renovated to maintain its original features and period furnishings. It?s perched on a hill with a panoramic view of nearby Pienza and the surrounding valley. We stayed in one of the smaller of the six apartments (560 Euros for two of us for a week), clean and homey with its kitchen in a cupboard (an armoire that opened into a kitchen), comfortable king-sized bed, table, and sitting area with fireplace.
While the house and relaxing grounds look like they came right off of a postcard of Tuscany, what makes Cretaiole special is the warmth and the hospitality of the Moricciani family (Carlo and Isabella, Carlo?s parents Luciano and Liliana and his sister Laura), from the welcoming bottle of Cretaiole wine to the bottle they send home with you to extend your Tuscany memories. They have a deep love of their land and the surrounding valley and strive to share this with their guests.
To this end, they offer a variety of activities at no additional charge including olive oil tasting with Carlo, a cooking lesson during which Isabella and Liliana teach their guests to make ?pici? the hand-rolled local pasta (and then provide you with Liliana?s scrumptious sauce), a three hour guided tour of Siena, and a tour guided by Isabella of their own piece of ancient history, an area carved out beneath Pienza that served as both Etruscan tombs and a hermitage. Luciano generously offers the products of his garden to their guests. Isabella, who fluently speaks four languages, made our stay very special. Each evening she made a point of connecting with each of her guests, helping them make reservations for dinner or outings. She has written an indispensable guide of the surrounding area with sample driving and bicycling itineraries to the many surrounding hilltowns, extensive descriptions of highlights and recommendations of restaurants as well as market days, medical resources and grocery stores.
Our hosts? generosity was highlighted on Labor Day when we were invited to the traditional family gathering and served a feast made with products from their farm. Their website http://www.cretaiole.it/home.en.php is very informative.
Aptos, CA USA Wed 05/18/2005
La Crociona is a beautiful agriturismo located in the village of La Croce, about 3 km from Montalcino. I have stayed here many times so I am familiar with all the apartments and the local area. There are seven apartments including a studio type and a two bedroom. The bedrooms have comfortable beds, armoire, dresser, and nightstands. The living room/dining room has couch, TV, lamps, table, chairs, and hutch. The kitchen has a half size refrigerator, stove with four burners and oven, and plenty of cupboards. The bathrooms are larger than most hotels in Italy and very clean. There are hairdryers and heated towel racks but no tub, only a shower.
There is no breakfast at La Crociona but there is a restaurant in the village and the owner of La Crociona, Fiorella, occasionally has cooking classes. The farm produces Brunello, the top wine in Italy, as well as grappa, Rosolio, vin santo, and honey.
The farm is a family affair with the children, Barbara and Roberto in their 30?s, always on site. Barbara and Roberto speak pretty good English and the mother, Fiorella, speaks excellent English. The parents of Fiorella are also there on occasion but speak no English, but speak Tuscan Italian with no slang, just like Americans are taught in school.
Montalcino is a beautiful hill town with everything you need. There are enough restaurants to last several weeks without repeating yourself. There is a castle, museum, artisan shops, hospital, wine bars, supermarket, food shops, tourist office, bank, bakery, bars, cleaners, take out pizza, churches, and just a wonderful town to stroll through.
There are plenty of interesting sights to see within a half hour drive, Siena, Pienza, Montepulciano, Bagno Vignoni, Sant Antimo, Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Buonconvento, Murlo, San Quirico d?Orcia and many smaller towns. In an hour and a half you can be in San Gimignano, Volterra, or Orvieto. Since this is one of the most beautiful parts of Tuscany the drive itself is scenic and a pleasure.
Depending on the apartment and the time of year and the stay prices range from about 80 euro to 100 euro a night. They rent by the night and by the week and don?t require the week to start on a Saturday. I have stayed here so often the family and I are very good friends and I will answer any questions about the farm or area. E-mail me at email@example.com.
Wichita, Ks USA Sun 05/15/2005
Go See Graziella, everyone!
We just returned from two weeks in Tuscany with some wonderful memories. The first Agriturismo we visited was at Inalbi, south of Impruneta, south of Florence. Very lovely gardens and spacious rooms and views. We also visited Tenuta Castel Venezze in Rovigo where "the Countess" made our stay quite interesting and shared her picture book library of the Po River Valley history with us. Her big old farmhouse had immaculate rooms--very modern--and thick, white fluffy towels! But the four adults and one five-year-old travelling together voted for Il Poggiolo just outside Florence as our absolute favorite. Graziella Camillioni is the friendly hostess and she will make you want to move in! She's a charming, personable lady with a good grasp of getting around Florence, making reservations at the museums and galleries and offering recommendations for exquisite dining experiences. Her place is remote and quiet but only ten minutes to town, once you know the way. We had a marvelous time! You really need to check her website at http://www.il-poggiolo.it/eng.htm . She will make you smile for months after your trip! I can't wait to go back.
Toledo, OR USA Sat 05/14/2005
Door to Joy and Tranquillity
Casa Portagioia, meaning ?Door to Joy and Tranquillity?, is named appropriately. My girlfriend and I recently returned home after a wonderful 7-night stay at Casa Portagioia. This was our first trip to Italy, and in addition to our desire to visit Florence and Rome, we wanted to experience the countryside, medieval towns and wineries of Tuscany. Casa Portagioia was the ideal place to setup our home base. It?s location is perfect for day trips to the famous wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino, the medieval towns of Siena, Cortona and many others, as well as the beautiful cities of Florence (about 1 hour) and Rome (about 2-1/2 hours).
When we arrived, Terry showed us to our comfortable room, decorated in Tuscan style and spotlessly clean. There were nuts, chocolates and a small decanter of Sherry on the dresser. Not only were our hosts Terry and Marcello welcoming and gracious, they were extremely helpful in planning our daily itineraries. They offered a lot of ideas for day trips, booked reservations at restaurants, wineries and museums, and had a wide assortment of maps and travel books.
Some of my favorite memories, however, will be the fantastic breakfasts prepared by Marcello before we headed out for our daily adventures. Be sure to request his omelet with cherry tomatoes, spring onions and pecorino and enjoy it with freshly squeezed juice, delicious Italian coffee, bread and fruit assortments, and the view of the Tuscan hills, olive trees and flower gardens.
In between all those days of sightseeing, don?t forget to plan for a day to hike in the hills overlooking Casa Portagioia and then relax by the beautiful pool.
Will we miss Terry and Marcello who we now consider our friends. (www.tuscanbreaks.com)
New York, NY USA Sat 05/14/2005
We highly recommend the accomodations at Al Beneficio. Overlooking the town of Barga, our views were spectacular from our terrace. Our accomodations were full of character and very comfortable. The owners(and neighbors, and family) were gracious hosts, helping us navigate local hikes and fine local restaurants. Our experience at Al beneficio was better than we ever anticipated. If you are looking to experience the country side, in a true local Italian setting, this is the place.
dennis & cathy wilhelmi
st. louis, mo USA Wed 05/11/2005
I Barronci farm outside Florence
We have not only made lifetime friends, but found the epitome of Tuscan style. The views were spetacular, the apartment and villas were as big as a house. Please let the Mancini family know how the Cobbs of Texas love them!
Lewisville, TX USA Thu 04/28/2005
The most incredible Tuscan experience!
Hi, I wanted to recommend Il Passo degli Ulivi: it is a lovely agriturismo in Maremma where we spent the most incredible holiday!Signora Antonella is a really nice person and she gave us so many useful recommendations!We were only 10 minutes away from lovely Petriolo hot spring: so incredible! These natural hot water pools in the middle of really unspoilt nature!!! An unforgettable experience!Their website is http://www.ilpassodegliulivi.it/
USA Mon 04/25/2005
When I went to Europe in the fall of 2004 I stayed in one of the most unique agritourismos. While in Italy, I came across this self sustaining farm that is nestled in the mountains inbetween Rome and Naples. The place was called ItalyFarmStay and I think they have a website called that with a .com at the end. Anyways, they grow all of their own food and make their own wine. they have farm animals and the owner (antonello) took me up for many an excursion to the mountains, which he has a strong passion for. If you will be in this area I strongly reccomend this cheap ($15 for a bed and breakfast!!!) and unique place. You can email antonello at firstname.lastname@example.org or email me for more reccomendations. Enjoy your travels!
College Station, TX USA Thu 04/21/2005
Alla Madonna del Piatto
I would like to recommend a place we stayed in Assisi. Set way, way back in the hills of Umbria this agriturismo is a delight for all the senses. The home is quiet, beautiful and extremely comfortable. The family has recently redone this centuries old farmhouse and everything is new. There are accommodations for up to 13 people in their home but there was just one other couple during our stay. As wonderful as the place is, the best part of our experience was the hospitality and graciousness of our host, Letizia Mattiacci. You aren't just a visitor in her agriturismo, you are her favored guest. She is so lovely and showers you with attention and care in every way: Homemade bread and jams for breakfast, a dinner of Umbrian specialties, pamphlets, information and intelligent suggestions galore on everything in Umbria - what could be better? You feel like you are her best friend when you leave but she isn't pushy either. My husband and I stayed in wonderful places in Tuscany and Rome but this was one of the highlights of our trip. You must enjoy being far away from the action though, this place is quite remote, but we found it to be a perfect place as a homebase for travel in Umbria.
Nashville, TN USA Tue 04/19/2005
Volterra Agriturismo! Eat up!
While in Italy in the fall of 2004 I stayed in this unique agritourismo in the hill town of Volterra. What was unique about this place was that the dining room was a 12th century or so monestary, was a working olive farm, and has a 'natural' swiming pool. The owner cooked and encouraged me to take a cooking class. It was really fun as a group of people from all around the world sharred their own languages word for flour. I have visited many agritourismos and this is honestly on of the cleanest and friendliest places to say. You can email the owner Marinella at email@example.com or email me and I can point you in the right direction. These people got it right.
College Station, TX USA Fri 04/15/2005
Great Bed and breakfast in Italy
i went on a lovely holiday in a country bed and breakfast take a look at thier web page i just wanted to pass the message on http://www.angelfire.com/super2/heavenlyholidaysrome
USA Fri 03/18/2005
Relaxation and a good base to start exploring Tuscany
Thanks to the Graffiti board, Mary-Beth and I found this truly beautiful place in Tuscany .
Casa Portagioia is a sort of Bed and Breakfast come hotel close to Cortona in Castiglion Fiorentino Tuscany. - www.tuscanbreaks.com
How many of us start (and finish) our vacations trundling through airports having to work our way around strange places and foreign languages armed only with a simple phrase book? When we arrive at our hotels, we are thankful for a bed and sometimes the stress factor is as bad as any other day! That?s why finding the right place is so important!
Our thanks then to the folks at Casa Portagioia. They realize that our (and their other guest?s) holiday was well earned and deserved and should be stress free zone. By adopting this attitude, the host?s sole objective seems to be to make our stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible - as they said "after all we would like you to come back again!"
But they didn't need to worry; the place is just picture postcard perfect. The cypress tree lined drive, surrounded by lush green Tuscan vegetation welcomes you before you have even entered Casa Portagioia. The result of a 2-year restoration, this beautiful farmhouse/villa has been undertaken with great care and close attention to detail maintaining the natural beauty of the building, whilst allowing for the comforts and standards appreciated by any traveler.
Our spacious rooms were elegant, well appointed and tastefully furnished. The bathrooms modern and very clean and views of the gardens and valley superb.
Tuscany (we found out) is not going to be covered in the three weeks set aside. Reading guidebooks etc is a must and it is necessary to make a list of the must sees.
Whilst staying at Casa Portagioia, we had time to relax and time to sight see. Every morning during our leisurely breakfast, our hosts were on hand to give that little extra to help us make the most of our day. They ran out driving instructions and maps, highlighted back water places for us to see, recommended restaurants etc for lunch and so on. They even arranged (at short notice) a trip to Florence - avoiding all the queues and another to two wineries.
But, ticking off a list of towns, churches and art treasures is one thing, the need for a couple of days to rest and unwind is highly recommended. The pool at Casa Portagioia just beckons to be used. It has fantastic views of the surrounding valley and was the perfect place to have lunch and try out the local wine.
The hosts went the extra mile to make us feel totally relaxed - if not pampered! Mary-Beth even had a new hair style created for her!
Dinners (only twice a week) set outside on the warm terrace, were a fun affair. A five course menu punctuated by conversation with other guests and a few jokes from the host, made it very relaxing.
If you are thinking of going to Cortona, Arezzo or anywhere close to these areas, you might find this place the perfect base for touring, relaxation and something special, really warm hospitality. Highly Recommended!
Atlanta, GA USA Thu 02/17/2005
La Bandita in Tuscany
We loved staying at La Bandita in Bettole. It was clean, quiet and the hostess was very accommodating. The restaurant had delicious food and we had most of our dinners there unless we were still out touring. The location of La Bandita is perfect for seeing Tuscany. I really recommend this agriturismo!
Westbury, NY USA Tue 02/01/2005
Discover the Puglia and its sole and original features, from landscapes to gastronomy, from nun architecture to that rural, from coasts along the Salento to age-old folk and feast
Bari, Puglia Italy Mon 01/31/2005
For Julie: Il Passo degli Ulivi
Hi Julie!We stayed there too! We loved it!We plan on going back next year! When were you there?Il Passo degli Ulivi (http://www.ilpassodegliulivi.it/)
S Sun 01/30/2005
Dear Alessia,Thanks for helping us out with booking " Residenza Passignano" Lake Trasimeno. We liked the place a lot and had a wonderful time.Sincerely,Wayne and Goranka
Wayne and Goranka
miami, USA Wed 01/26/2005
Farmhouse in Tuscany
We just returned from a two week trip to Italy (over Christmas and New Years). Stayed at a beautiful agriturismo in Tavarnelle, which is an easy 25 minute drive into Florence, Sienna, and San Gimignano. Patricia and her husband, Claudio are great hosts...very accomodating and helpful.The website is www.sovigliano.com. Our family of 4 had the 2 room apartment which gave us plenty of room. Highly recommend this place!
Denver, CO USA Sun 01/09/2005