We did have a marvelous stay at Tuscan Winery Retreat. It was very peaceful and quiet and we enjoyed the beautiful trees, grapevines, the swimming pool and a very nice room. Also, the wine tasting and meal were a treat and the dinner in the dining room was delizioso! We had so much fun I hope to return some day.
I really can’t believe we pulled this trip off exactly as planned. Viewing your site for over a year, it is very informative and really helped us to enjoy the perfect time in Italy. Having a car is a big plus. We covered a lot of ground and sometimes got lost but found our way again and discovered new and unexpected places we hadn’t planned to see. Absolutely loved Rome, Siena, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Firenze and San Gimignano. We also were able to see villages in Chianti, Volterra, Pisa and the coast because of the car. The only minor problem of course is finding a restroom in a public place. You finally figure it out and stop and have a snack or bottle of water and the merchant will let you use their “toilette”. No other problems. Great food and wine! Nice people and the most amazing art and architecture you will ever see in your life. It was truly a heart moving experience and I feel grateful to have made the trip and hope to return again soon.
This was everything we thought it would be. Guiseppe was a very gracious host. The bed was very comfortable which is important to me. I loved the complimentary bottle of wine awaiting us. The wine was light, refreshing and very inexpensive at $2.50 a bottle. Thanks for the opportunity to stay there. We both loved it.
We had an absolutely wonderful time at Tuscan Winery Retreat. It was exactly as described. Absolutely pristine grounds and cheerful hosts. We arrived March 12 and we had the entire grounds to ourselves until Friday. It was a beautiful, tranquil setting. The perfect location to soak up the Tuscan warmth and submerse yourself in the "real" italy. We loved the fact that we could do day trips to San Gimignano, Volterra, Florence, Siena, and the Chianti wine region. Being of Italian decent, and having visited Italy a number of times, I loved the fact that Colle Val D'elsa was not touristy. Poggibonsi is very close and worth a visit if you want to experience the real Italy. They have a very lively strip where everyone hangs out at night.
We found a great Restaurant in Colle Val D'Elsa through talking with some locals. It is called La Ghiotta. It is a five minute walk from the main piazza. You will reach a second smaller piazza with lights in the pavement, and that is where it is. They have excellent food, great prices, and a high chair!!! But very very little English spoken. We ate there several nights and loved it.
I would highly recommend In Italy Online for your travels!!! It was so simple to book our trip, and we knew what to expect by reading the reviews and descriptions you provided. Thanks so much!!!
Our trip was simply perfect. Did you fix the weather as well? Tuscan Winery Retreat is wonderful - because of its position so close to Siena and San Gimignano but also because it offers peace and seclusion (the XIVth century monks weren't dumb). Even though there are many flats, one has the feeling of being completely on one's own - which is exactly what I am going after! This was our first holiday arranged entirely through cyberspace so there was a lot of ifs and supposes, but everything worked out just perfectly. We are hooked!
As to San Gimignano - many shops are open on Sunday so nobody needs to starve. Otherwise it is best to save San Gimignano for a weekday since many people - also from Florence and Rome - come there for the afternoon and for a quiet dinner and finding a parking space is almost impossible.
San Gimignano and Siena have a lot of stairs and going up and down and parking lots are at a fair distance from the old city which is closed to foreign traffic. Therefore these wonderful cities can be very difficult for people who have problems walking ecc.
We had a wonderful time at Tuscan Winery Retreat; it was the highlight of our trip through Italy! I've re-read the letters you have posted, so this note can add to the information they provide. There were 5 of us -- parents and three children, ages 9-13. We had the Gli Olivi apartment, which is screened from the pool by rose bushes and trees. It has access to a very large patio area adjacent to our private patio. That larger area was never used by anyone else during our stay.
1. On our way, we stopped in Colle d'Val d'Elsa to get cash from the ATM and shop in the Supermarket, as one of your readers suggested, because no stores are open on Sunday and we needed Euros. The Supermarket is open until 1600 on Saturday; so, I made a return trip for a few items, after seeing our apartment. The same supermarket chain (COOP) has a larger store right next to the highway in a shopping center at the nearby Poggibonsi South exit. (Prices rise as stores get smaller.)
2. From early June until mid-month the roses were in bloom, so our patio smelled and looked beautiful.
3. Most of the guests were Europeans, primarily German-speaking. We do not speak German. That did not deter our 9-year old soccer player. He brought out a ball and soon was playing with kids, dads and granddads. We found the property very kid-friendly -- several families, outdoor eating on patios and enough outdoor space for kids to swim and play.
4. The area has several crystal-making factories and a few outlet stores, but this is not advertised. On a rainy day, we were invited into one factory to watch and photo the blowers at work. We bought a couple of small items at reasonable prices, directly from the factories.
5. Everyone seemed to do day-trips to see Siena, Florence, Pisa, etc. Days started with a swim, then off to the sights and return in the late afternoon for a swim and either cook or go in to town for a meal. Siena on Sunday was a treat, because every two hours a troupe would march through town, wearing medieval costumes, beating drums and flying their colors.
We are all ready to go back tomorrow!
Tuscan Winery Retreat feels like you're staying in a little medieval village - in beautifully renovated buildings. The grounds/gardens are lovely. And Lorella and Giuseppe (and everyone else we met who worked there) were extremely friendly and helpful. The bottle of red wine of the farm's own production that you find waiting for you when you arrive was one of the best we tried! It is a VERY beautiful place, in a very excellent location for exploring southern Tuscany. I would definitely stay there again, only in a different apartment. And for those people who do not need open windows while sleeping, Casafienile was otherwise very nice.
I hope my comments are helpful. I have already recommended InItaly.com to many friends and relatives. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled across your site and to have found your "countryside accommodations" services. Thank you VERY much for making my holiday in Italy so wonderful. I hope to have the opportunity to request your services again in the future.
Con molto riconoscimento,
Our only regret was that we were so busy visiting the many hill town in the area that we didn't leave enough time to appreciate the beautiful surroundings at Tuscan Winery Retreat. We had spent several days in Rapallo listening to motor bikes to all hours of the night. It was such a delight to have peace and quiet at night along with a very agreeable red wine and a cozy fire. We all slept like logs every night.
Can't think of any surprises. The property was neat as a pin and everyone was very friendly. The only surprise was the number of people we ran into in Florence and Siena in the "off season." We shifted our priorities and spent more time in the delightful smaller hill towns. After traveling near and far, my personal favorite was Colle Val d'Elsa. It is a picture perfect town with very little in the way of churches, museums or art work to put it on the map i.e. very few tourists, friendly people and delightful places to eat at reasonable prices. An added bonus was shopping for the sparkling crystal that is produced in the that city. And all within easy reach.
If I were to give advice to anyone on their way to Tuscan Winery Retreat it would be to limit yourself to one or maybe two towns a day. We scheduled three towns in one day: big mistake. Spend plenty of time sitting drinking coffee and people watching between churches, museums and shopping. Go to the little hill towns that are not in your travel book. They can be very photogenic and each town has its own wines. It would be impossible to say which ones we liked best. It changed on a daily basis. Go to Montalcino and try the Brunello wine in the big glasses if you are looking for an unforgettable dining experience.
We had a wonderful time in Italy. The highlight of our trip was Tuscany and the Winery Retreat. It was so much more than we thought it would be. The apartments are roomy and comfortable. I would characterize them as "rustic", which fits the style of the old converted monastery that it is. We loved picking grapes in the vineyard, as well as picking fresh figs and peaches everyday. We have a 4 year old girl, Daniella, who was very comfortable there. She especially loved meeting their kitten, "Tigrino", which was the highlight of her trip to Italy. Every morning, and every afternoon when we arrived home, Daniella would seek out Tigrino and play with him.
Our hosts Lorella and Giuseppe were so warm and helpful. When Daniella wasn't feeling well, Lorella found a pediatrician in town and made an appointment for us. Giuseppe maintains the place wonderfully and was always available if needed. He is a gem, who let us taste the wine right out of the barrels in the small cantina.
We had a wonderful stay and cannot say enough about Tuscan Winery Retreat. Thank you all for your help in making the arrangements.
Italy was wonderful and yes, we enjoyed Lodi. The people were very warm. I enjoyed Tuscan Winery Retreat as did my family. It was a relaxing and quite exciting vacation. The only problem we had which I didn't anticipate was the language barrier. Phrase books were particularly handy, but I was sad because I thought my command of the language was better. Ah, you learn. All in all, it was a lifetime experience, filled with beauty and delight! Thank you for all your help. I couldn't have done it without you!
We had a great time in the sun and snow. It was snowing when we got up on Tuesday 3/24, there was about 3'' of light powdered snow, that was melted by late afternoon. For dinner the last night we went to L'Antica Trattoria, we gave it ****, along with the other 3 trattorias we had dinner at. The first night Lorella, our host, suggested Ristorante Casalta in Strove, which is 5 min. drive from the farm. There is also a small COOP (supermarket) there. We ate 3 times at (Pizzeria Spaghetteria Indios) 91/93 Vaile de Mille, in Colle Val d' Elsa. It opens at 7 pm, it's a local pizzeria with a wood burning oven, one night I counted about 74 pizzas go out the door in the 2 1/2 hours we were there. I would highly recommend Tuscan Winery Retreat, for its location and beauty. Heat and cleaning for the week came to $111.00 and we had the heater on 24 hours a day.
Michael & Naomi
Jack & Karen
Tuscan Winery retreat and Lorella were simply "the best". This was without exception the finest vacation we have ever had. Lorella and her staff went out of their way to make our visit fantastic.
A few bits of advice for those traveling there. Bring extra clothes since finding a washing machine (lavatrice) is very hard. Next, try their wine, it is a great table wine. Give yourself enough time, two weeks were great, next year we will do three. If you like soft pillows, bring your own. If you like soft sheets, bring your own (full and double); bring comfortable shoes, since all cities require lots of walking.
On the whole, we would all wholeheartedly recommend the Winery, and will be returning there next year, same time. By the way, they are great for those traveling with kids, ours are 9/11. Feel free to give a us a holler if you have any other questions.
We were very pleased with the accommodation at Tuscan Winery Retreat--very idyllic setting and a clean and commodious facility. While the nearby town of Colle di Val d'Elsa is not on many of the tourist routes, we decided that is one of its advantages. The heart of Chianti Classico appellation, San Gimignano, Siena and even Florence are within easy drives. We day-tripped to Florence on several days of our stay - and avoided the challenges of driving and parking in Florence - by taking the 40 minute train ride from Poggibonsi into central Florence. Poggibonsi is about 10 minutes by car away and the train cost is quite modest.
Count us as "happy campers"-- we would certainly use your services again, should good fortune allow us to return to Italy in the future.
First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your excellent assistance and advice in planning this trip. The web site is a treasure, but all of you were so extremely helpful in addition to the site information and I truly appreciate it.
Tuscan Winery Retreat is great in many ways. The location is terrific to explore Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Monteriggiano, etc. The web site info says Florence is a few minutes farther than Siena, which is not true. Siena is about 15 minutes, Florence is 45 minutes - you should change that. It's nice that there's a large town (Colle Val d'Elsa) nearby with a supermarket, etc. The grounds are beautiful. Our apartment, Belvedere, was very bare bones and not very homey or comfortable to "hang out" in. For instance, the kitchen/dining/living room area (small - about 12x12) had a small futon-type couch (which was not very comfortable) but no other living-room type chairs (stuffed, or with arms). The only chairs to sit on in the apartment were the straight back dining table chairs. The beautiful stone floors are not covered by area rugs or throw rugs, so are very cold, especially when the weather is chilly. The stall shower is barely big enough to turn around in. And the cooking equipment/utensil situation is minimal. None of this was unbearable, but people should know that this apartment is "spare." Also, the info on the web site notes that the hosts "speak little English". I think that should be changed to no English, because the friendly Guiseppe doesn't speak a word of English and the friendly Lorella speaks very little, though she is quite fluent in French, which saved us, since my husband speaks French. Also, this is not the place to stay if you want a lot of advice about where to go and what to do. First of all, there are times when none of the staff is around and second, if you don't speak Italian they can't help. Prior visitors were right about the delicious and incredibly cheap red wine that they make - I would have loved to bring back a case!
Lorella did recommend several nearby restaurants - Antica Trattoria (in the town square of Colle Val d'Elsa), Le Leggenda dei Frati (about 10 min. away in Abbadia a Isola) and Olmino Express (a couple of minutes down the road) which is in two old, beautifully restored train cars. All were good, but Antica Trattoria is a bit snobby. Leggenda is the best of the three, a beautiful restaurant with outstanding food - which is saying something in a country where it's hard to get a bad meal.
I also want to say that while some frequent visitors to Tuscany say that San Gimignano is way too crowded, etc., it is still a beautiful town and a great place to visit. One of our best dining experiences happened there, at a tiny place called Osteria Del Carcere, which specializes in soups, salads and sandwiches - I don't think there's any pasta on the menu. Great bruschetta, crostini with herbed goat cheese, ribolitta, and a salad with kiwi, pecorino cheese and walnuts. The proprietor is a lovely and friendly woman and we had a great lunch there.
We had a trip of a lifetime, but I'm hoping and planning that this is only the first of many to Italy. Again, thanks for your expert help!