After a week in Tuscany, it is so hard to whittle down the pictures and events of our stay. I decided to summarize it with mainly the farmhouse. If we had not had a car at our beck and call, we would have been perfectly content staying on the grounds of Cretatoile and soaking up the area by foot.
The highlight of our week visit in Tuscany was our stay at Cretaiole. It is a beautiful agriturismo located in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Val d'Orcia. David and I had a beautiful one bedroom efficiency style apartment while our traveling companions stayed in a three bedroom apartment above us. Just as beautiful as the views from our window was our hostess, Isabella, that welcomed us and made our stay relaxing, yet full of activities.
This is an early morning view of the city of Pienza from Cretaiole. The tranquility of the area was amazing. Our post sunrise hike led us past one of the most photographed sites in Tuscany, the Chapel of The Madonna di Vitaleta as well as past a cypress tree lined drive that was included in the movie, The Gladiator.
The scenic beauty was not the only offerings that Cretaiole had in store for us. There were wine and olive oil tastings, pasta cooking classes, biking, along with restaurant and tour suggestions. The much anticipated event of the year, the "vendemmia" was announced for the Wednesday while we were there. Yes, we wholeheartedly harvested Cretaiole's grapes, but much to my dismay, no stomping. The famous I Love Lucy episode that I refreshed myself on before leaving Qatar went to waste as that is no longer the way of the land.
After work and play every evening at Cretaiole, many of the guests met with the family patriarch, Luciano, for an evening of hand gestures and grappa, along with my new found friend, limoncello. Luciano did not speak a word of English, but somehow camaraderie and fellowship with alcohol trumped all language barriers. Salute! Oh, did I mention the fact that my brother in law speaks Italian?
Cretaiole was the core of our Tuscany visit, but we also ventured out to Assisi, Sienna, Pienza, Orvieto, among other small towns. So much to be discovered, so little time. Ciao!