Food tastes best when it is grown and eaten locally, harvested by hand in rhythm with the natural seasons. Slow food and “zero kilometer” are more than popular foodie trends, they are how the Tuscan people traditionally eat! Our guests enjoy access to the highest quality, locally produced organic olive oil, wine, cheese, eggs, and organic vegetables–much of it grown and harvested right outside your door.
Agriturismo Cretaiole grows olives, grapes, and has a vegetable garden. Our family lives nearby on an organic working farm called Podere San Gregorio, on the outskirts of Pienza. The farm has 80 hectares (about 200 acres) of fields, orchards, and gardens, populated with a happy collection of organically raised chickens, pigs, guinea hens, pigeons, sheep, and rabbits.
Read below to learn more about the food that we lovingly produce and share with guests, and the unforgettable long-table dinner you are invited to attend.
CRETAIOLE’S ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Olive oil, our “green gold”, is our most precious product, and a delicious treat for our guests. Our orchards have been tended with care for centuries. Some of our trees are 600 years old — and still produce olives of the highest quality. We have 900 trees producing a wide range of Tuscany’s indigenous varieties that are highly valued for the quality and taste of oil they produce. The olives are handpicked to protect the integrity of the olive and are cold pressed. Every step of the process is done with pride, careful attention and respect for the land and the centuries-old family tradition.
Carlo has an extraordinary tasting skill that makes it possible for him to serve on the professional tasting panel for the Province of Siena—a panel that tastes and certifies olive oil produced by the farmers in our area. Only olive oils that are completely free of defects can pass the panel of tasters. Our oil is certified by this process. During Carlo’s olive oil tasting lesson (part of the Dolce Vita Stay), you will learn many ways to determine the quality of olive oil, a new skill which you can feel confident in when you do your shopping back home!
CRETAIOLE’S ORGANIC SANGIOVESE WINE
Carlo makes two red wines from 100% Sangiovese grapes, called “Casa” and “Cretaiole Orcia Rosso DOC”. Guests are welcomed with a bottle of “Casa” upon arrival, and during the tour of our family farm (part of the Dolce Vita Stay) we provide a lunch during which you can taste both wines paired with our other farm products (handmade sausage, prosciutto, and salami; pecorino cheese; seasonal fruits and vegetables from our organic garden; and homemade grappa and vin santo). You are welcome to walk at your leisure among the family vineyard, a special place to slow down and contemplate life while enjoying beautiful views over the Val d’Orcia.
GRAPPA AND VIN SANTO
Luciano’s passion is making his own grappa (distilled liquor) and vin santo (dessert wine made from dry white grapes) using an ancient method of which he’s very proud. He’s happy to share these with guests, over a talk or a dance at Cretaiole in the evenings.
PECORINO DI PIENZA CHEESE
Luciano purchases freshly made pecorino cheese from a local producer and brings it back to our farm for the aging process. He wraps the wheels of cheese in leaves from our walnut trees, keeping them in a perfect situation or aging until they are ready to be enjoyed. You’ll find his cheese extremely flavorful and a perfect afternoon snack: cheese and prosciutto with slices of pear and a drizzle of honey, with a glass of Carlo’s Sangiovese wine. Delizioso!
ORGANIC VEGETABLE AND HERB GARDEN
The organic vegetable garden at Cretoile is another passion of Luciano’s. During the year he grows vegetables and herbs for all of our guests to pick and enjoy during their stay. You are welcome to stroll through the garden and use your senses of sight and smell and taste to choose what is ripe and delicious. Many of our guests find this a refreshing break from restaurant meals, to prepare a light lunch or dinner “at home”, fresh from the garden. Depending on the season of your stay, you may find fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, eggplant, peppers, lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard, fennel, and onions. Something is always available from May through December.
SPECIAL LONGTABLE DINNER AT OUR FARMHOUSE
Toward the end of each week, you’ll be invited to join us for a special farm-to-table feast at Cretaiole. The classic Tuscan menu includes our very own handmade pici pasta (which you have the option to learn to make with us), grilled meats, side dishes, cheese, desserts, and wine. You’ll experience Italian dining customs with our family and our friendly community of guests. Magic happens at the Italian table—people from all over the world sit down as strangers and get up as friends.