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Hello Kirill,

I wanted to send you this note expressing our delight on our stay at Castello nel Chianti.

My wife and I along with our friends Tom and Sue arrived on Monday Sept.13th in the early afternoon around 3:00 p.m. We were greeted and shown our rooms. They were side by side and were everything we had hoped for. Spacious, clean, with a wonderful view of the olive orchards on one side and a grand "vista" of courtyard and acres of the vineyard on the other. We visited the wine tasting room and wine store and purchased several bottles of a wonderful Chianti Wine specially made by the castle's vineyard. We drank these bottles while on our Cruise adventure later on in the week. (7 day Cruise starting in Rome, Livorno, Nice, Barcelona, Tunis, Sorrento, back to Rome). The four of use opted to have dinner that evening at the castle's restaurant located down the hill (3 minute car ride) and were treated to a wonderful dinner with wonderful atmosphere that can only be enjoyed with this Tuscan backdrop.

The next morning we awoke to a truly magical morning. The sky was clear, blue and with a Tuscan Sun that lit the entire valley and surrounding landscape. I took out my Nikon Digital camera and proceeded to take at least 100 pictures of this fine castle perched on top of a Tuscan hill. Surrounded by rows upon rows of wine grapes all dropping into an endless valley. A castle with its towering walls, herb garden, private chapel along with all the accommodations including apartments. A pool area with an infinity pool overlooking a Tuscan view that is simply "out of this world." We had a continental breakfast among other guests from Canada, Italy, and the U.K. in the castle's kitchen area located upstairs on the second floor. We then spent time going through this impressive surrounding venturing from room to room. One room better than the last. From a dining room truly "fit for a king" to its marvelous bedrooms that are out of literary novels. Although we only spent one night at Castello nel Chianti, the memories of this magical place in the heart region of Toscana will live on in our minds. We plan to definitely come back to this place and stay much longer. Thanks for everything.

Morris & Heather B.

Dear Kirill,

We started our trip in Paris and took the night train to Venice. Upon our arrival in Venice we stayed at Hotel Ca' D'Oro, a wonderful Hotel. The staff was friendly and helpful. They set us up with the private boat trip to Murano which was a great way to get there. The breakfast there was quite nice. The location was good. We used your suggested restaurant and like you said the staff was a little stand offish, but they warmed up and the food was excellent. Well worth the effort is took to find it. Venice was a beautiful city and really enjoyed our stay.

Next we took the train to Florence. I will say the trains were a delightful way to travel. We rented a car through you. The staff at the Florence rental office was not the greatest. We arrived 45 minutes too early to pick up our car and were told we had to come back at the time listed on our rental agreement. That was a little irritating, since we had to lug our luggage with us. We stayed in the Castello nel Chianti. Thank goodness we rented the GPS system, but the drive was very nice and the Castle was wonderful. The staff was very helpful and friendly and we had a wonderful time during our stay. We found a restaurant in the town of Giaole just down the road from the castle called "Osteria Al Ponte" it was the best meal we had on the whole trip. The people were friendly and the food was outstanding.

Thank you so much for all of your help and suggestions. It was a trip of a lifetime. Can't wait to go back and will use your website for all our travel arrangements.

Sam and Deb L.

Dear Julie,

Italy was fantastic, a little cold, but it was March. We had everything from warm sunny days to snow while in the Chianti hills. Florence was wonderful, we explored all over and had a great time doing it. We even accidentally set off an alarm on a statue in the Pitti Palace; don't get too close. The Boboli Gardens are a must for any gardeners out there.

Our time at Castello nel Chianti was perfect. Penny was exceptional, she made arrangements for us for dinner several times and a tour of Siena. Her suggestions were spot on. We even had a couple of laughs at our expense when we didn't ask for her advise and blundered into a couple of poor choices for dinner.

Here are a few things we encountered:

There are no laundromats as we Americans are used to, so be prepared to have the staff do your laundry. The fee is fair and they even fold it and deliver it to your room, just plan on 48 hour turnaround.

You absolutely have to try Fornace. It is the restaurant at the base of the hill from the castle. The food is possibly the best we had and the ambiance can't be beat. Valentina, the hostess, guided us through the menu and made great suggestions. Diego, the chef, has a masters touch and uses only the freshest ingredients. This is a required stop on your trip. I plan on returning here on my next trip to Italy.

Another great restaurant is Le Contrade in Gaiole, it's a bit pricey, but so worth it.

Driving the Chianti road is fun, but a little scary at night. Be wary of the big trucks, but not overly concerned with the Italian drivers, they take care of themselves.

The breakfasts at the Castle were a little sparse, so plan on eating lunch early, you'll be hungry.

Most of the staff speak English, the few who don't were good enough to let me stumble though what little Italian I have learned without laughing at me, to my face. We managed to make ourselves understood to each other, eventually.

There are no telephones after the front office closes, but we rented an international cell phone and had no worries about being in contact with home or anywhere else if needed.

The TV only has BBC, German channels, and Italian Channels. It didn't matter though, I watched "High School Musical" in Italian and think I managed to learn a few phrases from it. Seriously though, who goes to Italy to watch the TV?

All in all, it was a wonderful time and I can't wait to go back. I will definitely use again. You took all of the hard work out of getting this vacation planned. I cannot thank you enough.

Take Care,
Dawn B.

Ciao Kristin,

Un'altro anno, un'altra bella vacanza italiana. Another year, another beautiful Italian vacation. Our theme this year was wine! Brunello in Montalcino, Chianti Classico in Gaiole-in-Chianti and homemade family wine in Pescia. We invited all our children, spouses and grandchildren to come with us. Everyone was able to do so - a very magical fete indeed. All behaved quite well, believe it or not, and the grandchildren even learned to speak some Italian.

We have traveled to Italy quite often over the last 10 years and In Italy has been a big part of making many of the experiences a very pleasant one. This June 2006, we stayed at Castello nei Chianti near Gaiole-in-Chainti - another success. The whole family joined us at the Villa and apartment #4. The villa has a covered terrazza that overlooks the castle and the vines of the countryside. Again we were up on a high hill (where castles are usually found). The villa has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, kitchen, dining area and the terazza, plus AC. The apartment is extremely large with a huge kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 3 ensuite bathrooms, 2 double sized sofa beds and also AC. Actually, for June, the weather wasn't too bad. Since we were high up in altitude the mornings and evenings were cool. Hot, hot in the cities, though, and in the plains of Pescia. We had over 100* F in Firenze.

Again we explored the vineyards and went to small towns all around the area. Vertine, Radda in Chianti, Volpaia, San Gimignano, Fonterùtoli, Monterrigioni, etc. We took the whole crew with us to Orvieto in Umbria, one of our favorite towns. The facade of the Duomo is gold gilded with mosaics and sparkles from afar as the sun shines down upon it. Some of our children took a cooking class at Badia a Coltibuono that was 10 minutes from our villa. (I arranged this through their web-site.) They had 5 students in all so it was practically a private class. Totally enjoyed. Other children went off on their own and Grandpa and Grandma (Nonno and Nonna) took care of the kids. Found a nice art gallery (high end) and sculpture park nearby. After the usual lunch of pasta and vino and lots of aqua naturale, Grandpa took the kids to the pool. Grandma relaxed at the villa. We all gathered at our villa and thoroughly enjoyed the terrazza dining al fresco and drinking Brunello wines, Chianti Classico wines and eating panforte from Nannini's in Siena. We had a one day layover between Montalcino and Siena so I arranged for a lovely old hotel 200 meters from the Campo and right next door to Nannini's!

Penny was delightful. The head of housekeeping, Marzia, was also very nice, very accommodating as to what bed arrangements I needed in the apartment. She took a shine to my husband thinking him "molto simpatico". She is right. After the dinner at the castle (optional cost) she gave him a large bag full of the most delicious cantuccini ever (biscotti to the uninitiated). Bianca offered us, as guests, a wine tasting, Penny took us on a tour of the castle. It is true at times there was no one in the office, which doesn't matter unless that is the time you want to speak with someone. If there is a large group staying at the castle hotel the staff is pretty busy taking care of their tours, meetings, etc. So it is a balancing act. We did have to ask them to clean out the pool, however. It was quite dirty and our grandchildren would not go in, nor would their parents let them. Penny saw to the cleaning immediately.

All in all, the Castello nei Chianti was most enjoyable and the town of Gaiole-in-Chianti most convenient. Nice restaurants, Coop and alimentary (grocery stores). We were there on Sunday when they celebrated Corpus Christi Day. Flower petals adorned the street and after Mass the townspeople followed the priest on a procession around town. There were 10 first communicants as well - all girls who helped lead the procession.

One nice thing about this trip was, for the most part, no sightseeing. Or, at least, done in small doses. We really enjoyed just being in Italy. I have a suggestion for all travelers: flow with the people, speak to them even if you do not know the language. Better yet, study a few words. You will be well rewarded with a smile and inclusion into their Italian life. The less English you hear the more memories you will have: good, bad and funny.

We are already thinking about our next trip. In Italy will certainly be a part of it.

Migliori saluti,
Carol Ann N.

Good afternoon Kirill.

In a word, our visit to Castello nel Chianti was "fantastic"! The location was central and so many smaller towns/cities were easily within range for short day trips. Having a rental car of course, was a necessity if one intends to see Siena, Cortona, Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa, and all the other cities in the area.

We stayed in Apartment 4 in the villa above the castle and found it to be clean, comfortable and very spacious. There were six of us and there was room for two in each room. Each room also had its own bathroom. The kitchen was also fully equipped, with the exception of an oven. There was a dishwasher, refrigerator, cook top, and plenty of pots, pans, dishes and utensils. The china cabinet on the other side of the kitchen/dining area had glasses, wine glasses, cups and saucers. The table itself was also nice because it folded open and could have easily accommodated eight to ten people.

A note on the "InItaly" site also suggested bringing extra towels, face towels, and so forth, but they were not needed - at least at this location. There were plenty of towels, hand towels, and pool towels in each room.

The television left a lot to be desired (limited reception), but we were not there to watch television. We were happy when we found a classical radio station on the television, and mainly listened to that.

Mosquitos, mosquitos, mosquitos. While we knew they were nearby, they really were not an issue for any of us indoors. During the hottest part of the day when we were out we closed the windows and inside solid wood shutters to keep the place cool. When we returned at the end of each day it was much cooler, so we opened the windows to let the breeze blow through. By the way, there was a wonderful cool breeze each evening because the building sits on a hilltop. When the sun finally went down, we again closed the glass windows before turning on the lights. By keeping the lights off while the windows were open in the evening, we did not have a problem with mosquitos at all. Once we were ready for bed and turned out our lights, we opened the windows once again.

One other little warning, is to be aware there are wild boars in the nearby woods. Each morning I got up early and went walking by myself toward the top of the hill behind our villa. I did not however, find out until the very last morning that there are wild boars living there. I was awakened the last morning at about 5:30 AM by what sounded like people walking in the dry grass and on the gravel outside my window. When I looked outside however, I found two large females with full tusks with about a dozen little ones. Of course they did not seem to be a real threat because when I pushed the window open further to take a photo, they all rushed off into the brush.

The local town closest to the castle, Gaiole, was also a treat. There were shops to buy everything one would need or might forget. There is a local butcher, an enoteca for wines, a grocery store for everything else, and even a pharmacy. Our first night we enjoyed a fantastic meal at "Sfizio" on the piazza there. Roberta offered outstanding service and showed great patience as she explained the menu and helped those of us less traveled. The chef there served me one of the best meals I have had anywhere. Try the ravioli in a tartuffi cream sauce!

In spite of the boars and mosquitos, all of us can easily recommend Castello nel Chianti and the "InItaly" web site. Everyone was most accommodating and helpful. I do not think we could have been in a more ideal location or found better accommodations anywhere in the region. Thank you for a wonderful experience and an extremely memorable trip. We will definitely use "InItaly" again.

Dean J.

Dear Julie,

The Castello was in a great location, grounds were well kept, staff was wonderful. Two major drawbacks: no access to a telephone after 8 p.m. making it impossible to call our family back home at a reasonable hour. A phone should be accessible 24 hours a day. The nearest town Gaiola I think, closed down at about 8 except for restaurants. second, no place close to buy food for picnics daytrips etc. We ate twice at a wonderful restaurant Le Contrada. That was by far our favorite dining experience! Our waitress was fluent in English and answered all of our questions about life in Italy.

Margot H.

Dear Jessica,

Fabulous castle, fabulous apartment, fabulous location! We didn't have hot water the first day, but they fixed the problem as quickly as they could. The Castle's wines are superb; unfortunately, the enoteca was undergoing remodeling, but it should be open for subsequent visitors (we purchased our bottles from reception).

We were more than adequately supplied with cooking utensils and dinnerware. The shops and markets in Gaiole provided everything we needed (the macelleria in town is excellent; they make their own pork products).

Our Dachshund loved the apartment and castle grounds as well. A lot of room to run around.

It truly is Bella Toscana, and the Castello was a magnificent location from which to see it. In Italy did it again; you've always come through for us. Thanks for booking us a great week.

Ken C.

Dear Julie,

Hello...we stayed at Castello nel Chianti, which we booked through your service - and I'm so happy to say that it exceeded my expectations. It's a beautiful place, accommodations were very good, in fact, great, and I would not hesitate to either return there or recommend it to friends. Thank you for your service.

Tamara P.

Dear Jessica,

Castello nel Chianti was a great place to stay in the heart of Tuscany. We stayed in the old parish house, which was very quaint. The views around the Castle are spectacular. Breakfast is in the ancient castle on the second floor. A tour of the castle is a must. It has the oldest private and original theater in all of Europe. October is a spectacular month to travel Italy...This is an excellent location for day tripping all of Tuscany region. Radda and Siena is very close by. We had lots of fun visiting and tasting wine at the vineyards. Lots to do, so little time! This was our 25th anniversary trip - don't know why we waited so long to visit Italy. Can't wait to return. Great hospitality.

Cathy G.

Dear Julie,

At Castello nel Chianti, the room was basic but comfortable. Breakfast consisted of the standard B&B breakfast of yogurt, croissants, biscotti, coffee, granola and juice. I would recommend touring the grounds and the castle (very beautiful), participating in the wine tasting, and driving around the countryside. There are lots of great little towns to visit and this was a good hub for getting to many of them. A trip to Radda is a must. Our flight was late due to airport issues at London's Heathrow and the hosts were gracious enough to stay until our arrival at 2:00AM.

Brian N.

We had a fun time, Cynthia.

Castello nel Chianti was a great place to unwind after a week in Siena. We stayed in the guesthouse. The room was rustic but large and comfortable. The place caters mostly to German tourists so all of the satellite TV channels were in German. The remainder of the guests were British. Americans were few and far between in "Chianti-shire." There were showers but no bathtubs in most of the places we stayed at in Italy. Normally this is not a concern but it made bathing our 18-month-old boy a bit of a chore. There were a few kids there and at least one other baby. All three of us enjoyed the swimming pool. The water was cold but the up-close view of the vineyards made up for that. At night the fireflies and the Castle light up. One evening we ate at a wonderful restaurant a few miles up the road at the foot of Castello del Brolio called "Osteria del Castello." Reservations are necessary of course. Italian is helpful in some places but most proprietors in Chianti speak English.

Stephen J.

Dear Kristin,

Castello nel Chianti is in the heart of Chianti wine country. An amazing castle dating from the middle ages. A gorgeous view of the surrounding vineyards and a great base for exploring wineries, San Gimigiano and Siena. Wonderful restaurants nearby. Penny was very accommodating. A great choice.

David B.

Hi Cynthia.

We stayed in Room 400 at Castello nel Chianti which was a suite with a very large bedroom and a living room. What was nice about it was the fact that it was well renovated with all the modern amenities including cooking facilities and had a nice view. The pretty "infinity" pool overlooking the vineyards would be a huge plus in the summer months. The reception services could be improved though. There was very little by way of information about the restaurants, vineyards and sights around the area and the duty staff was often too busy or not around to attend to guests. Breakfast in the Castle was novel but not terribly enjoyable as it was held in a small, dark and dreary room.

In all, it was a very enjoyable stay and I would recommend it.

Eileen T.

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