Castelmuzio (Siena) - Val D'Orcia - Tuscany

If you have been a guest of "Le Casine di Castello" we would love to hear from you!
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Hi, Isabella,

Thank you for sending the recipes for pici and for your ragu! We haven’t made them yet, but we will, I am sure. Just thinking about how delicious dinner was at your place makes me want some right now!

Mark and I had a wonderful trip to Italy, and especially our stay with you guys. We absolutely loved Il Nido in Castelmuzio! It was the perfect fit for us. We enjoyed meeting many of your other guests at Cretaiole, but the peace, quiet and beauty of the apartment was so nice! By the way, a highlight of our trip was the balloon ride over Tuscany that you recommended. Thanks for the recommendation, and all the tips you gave us while we were there.

We do hope to return to Italy one day, and we’d love to stay with you guys again. We so enjoyed meeting you, Carlo, Luciano, Marta and Carlotta. What a lovely group of people! Please give our best to all, and we look forward to seeing you again! Ciao!

Joellyn and Mark
13 August 2017


Hello Isabella,
Thank you so much for the nice email and truly making our vacation a one of a kind. We enjoyed getting to know all of you. For me the best part of the trip was our first day at the house, learning to make pasta. I know Melissa enjoyed this very much as well.

We hope to come back some day. Until then be well.

Lucinda & Melissa
24 June 2017


Ciao Isabella! As always our stay was everything and more than we expected! Thank you so much! We never got to say our goodbyes at the last pici night! I also promised Luciano a last dance which I didn't fulfill and felt bad about that! Everyone just stood up and left so we followed. We definitely like spring versus fall with all the beautiful colors and flowers! We are hoping to share it again with a group of friends as they have expressed great interest. Could you please send me the ragù recipe?
Thank you!
I look forward to seeing you all again. Our time with you was the highlight of our entire month trip in Italy! XO!!!

Linda
18 June 2017


Isabella, thank you for making our visit to Tuscany so memorable and wonderful! Il Cielo and Castelmuzio were everything we had hoped for and so much more. And your guidebook was truly a treasure! We are telling our family and friends all about The Isabella Experience, and urging them to make a trip to you soon.

Tamara Garvey
01 June 2017


Dear Isabella,

So many thanks to you and Carlo and Carlotta and Marta for a wonderful stay in Tuscany. We arrived home a few days ago and just now are "coming to," having survived jet-lag once again.

Thank you for your "welcome home" letter and also for providing a most enchanting time for us when with you. We so appreciated the many personal touches and many kindnesses extended to us, especially the in-advance dinner reservations made so that we would not go hungry on May Day weekend, Marta's driving me to the farm for the olive tasting, Carlotta's informative and delightful welcome at Il Nido, and the wonderful orientation you furnished us at Cretaiole, enabling us to understand in some depth the Tuscan way. From the welcome basket to the hermitage tour to Giancarlo's dinner to the olive tasting to the restaurants you recommended, we had a fabulous visit. And sharing the good times with Sara Leigh, Sara, Adron, and Reese was a tremendous bonus, making us doubly grateful you could accommodate us at Il Nido, which we loved.

Now back in the routine of dailiness, do know that our lives have been considerably enhanced by your excellent care and gracious hospitality. We hope to return one day to Il Nido and Cretaiole. Thank you also for the recipes below. Sara has told me of the fun all had preparing the pics and then feasting on it. I'm sorry we had to leave before the week's schedule ended.

With many thanks and all best wishes,

Alice
20 May 2017


Isabella,
We have safely returned home following another amazing, absolutely wonderful trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Castelmuzio, as always, and we enjoyed being able to participate in more of the weekly activities. The Artisan Walk took us down streets in Pienza we had never explored! We enjoyed the olive oil tasting with Carlo, although it made me aware of my very un-professional palette. I felt I walked away with a new knowledge of olive oil. We had made the pici on a previous trip, but loved doing it again as much as the first time. Please include me in the list of people you send the recipe to.

We took a really nice walk in Castelmuzio following directions in your magnificent book. We put plans we had made from home aside, so that we could enjoy excursions from your book. One of your drives took us to a tiny hamlet of 10 residents......what a beautiful location! We walked around this beautiful tiny village in awe of our surroundings! After we got back in the car, I told Marc that I love hamlets, and wished Isabella could map out an entire drive of them! Marc says you could put Rick Steves out of business with your travel book, but we won't say that too loud!

Thank you so much for once again making our trip memorable and special. We have the fondest memories of our times with you. I promised to send you the website for the Bed and Breakfast we love as much as we love Castelmuzio. It's called Parkfield Guesthouse, in Keswick, UK, in the northern part of England called the Lake District. John and Susan Berry are the owners, and are simply superb in everything they do. Be sure to read their Trip Advisor reviews....everything you read is true!

Thank you again,

Nancy
12 May 2017


Hi Isabella,

Thanks for writing us. We had a wonderful stay at yours and enjoyed the activities. Thanks for the pici recipe. We went to Cinque Terre and Venice after Tuscany and loved them both. In fact, we met up with Peter and Donna for dinner and it was good fun. Back home now. Please do convey our regards to everyone . Rajat really enjoyed your ragu, thanks for the recipe!

Take care all of you, and we hope to see you again sometime in the future!

Rajat and Anshu
30 April 2017


Hi Isabella,

First, I wish to tell you that our stay was spectacular in every way. We enjoyed your suggested activities and living at Il Cielo. It was fun and interesting to meet your family and Carlotta. We felt very welcome and almost like a member of your family. Luciano was especially fun, he came over to me after the farm tour and said "something Japonaise then something". Carlotta clued me in, he wanted me to smile more to enjoy myself more. He was charming and so caring.

I’m so happy that we chose the la Dolce Vita option. The feast that was laid out for us on arrival was almost overwhelming. The amount of food, variety and all of it locally sourced was such a treat. All of the special touches with flowers, Easter eggs and decor made us feel like we were living in our own little Italian Villa. We could not have enjoyed a welcome any better. We ate many meals there , but still we did not get around to finishing it all. As you may have noticed, to our regret, we missed Luciano's grappa altogether.

Highlights in no particular order, were the pici making, the artisan and hermitage tour, the wine/dinner pairing at La Porta, and the tour of Siena with Antonella. My regret was that we did not have time to do the castle and dinner. That would have been awesome.

As we told you we went to Venice on Good Friday and to Como on Easter Sunday, so they were both crowded, which took some away from the experience. The rest of our journey went well, but our week spent in Tuscany with you as our guide, was our most memorable and amazing experience, by far.

Grazie Mille for everything. We will be recommending The Isabella Experience with you in Tuscany to all of our friends.

With much affection,

Keimei and family
30 April 2017


Ciao Isabella:

We very much enjoyed our stay in Castelmuzio. We’re telling all our friends how it was a highlight of our vacation in Italy.

All the very best,

Vicki
14 April 2017


Ciao Isabella!

I am SO happy to hear that you are all fine. I pray for all of those affected that they find the strength to get through this time.

Our stay with you far exceeded our expectations! I could've stayed forever!! I'm glad you found me on FB too! I will post some photos soon.

Thank you for the recipes!!! I've told my family about the pici dinner and they want me to have a pici making party!!! LOL!! I now wish I had taken a video of you making the dough! We'll do the best we can. . .

Hugs right back to all of you!

Sandi
27 October 2016


Buon giorno, Isabella!

We had a fabulous vacation in Italy. Staying at Il Nido and taking part in the olive oil tasting, tour of Siena, and pici-making and the dinner were certainly the highlights of our trip! Thank you so much for the recipe. We do plan to make the pici sometime soon! Our son would like to do it with us, so it will be a great family meal.

We hope to return for another visit in the future.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and don't work too hard.

Grazie,

Jody
14 July 2016


Dear Isabella,
Thank you for providing such a wonderful, unique holiday experience for us. You and your staff made our stay in Il Nido perfectly comfortable and delightful as you provided everything imaginable for our week long stay.

We were wondering about the possibility of another holiday in Castlemuzio in early May 2018. How many people could be accommodated in Casa Moricciani and what would the rate be at that time? Our son and his daughter have already stayed in Le Casine di Castello and we loved it so much we would like for more of our family to experience your Tuscan hospitality.

We send your family and staff our best wishes and hope that the rest of your season goes as well as the week we spent with you.

Sincerely,

Gay and Bob
8 June 2016


Ciao Isabella and Carlo,

We are now back in America after such a relaxing and rejuvenating stay in your area of the country. You both have worked so hard to make your guests feel at home. We did feel like part of the family.

Castelmuzio was so quiet at night even though on the main road. We did not have any trouble sleeping. Back here in America I do not drink wine or hard liquor. But I did like the vinsanto and the wine from the small vineyards such as Nostra Vita and your wine too!

We enjoyed the walks you prepared in the guidebooks and we also did some of the drives that went on the "white" roads. The "off the beaten path" adventures were quite special. Isabella you asked what we liked the best and truly there was not really a best. Each activity offered something we were not expecting and the quality of each experience was first rate.

How can you top the pasta making class with Rick Steves as a surprise, the tour of Siena with Antonella, the visits Carlotta took us on to the hermitage and artisans in Pienza, how to tell ok olive oil from superior oil with Carlo, what goes into producing top quality olives and grapes, the chef prepared dinners (we did both dinner with Giancarlo and with Laura)...we had a good time in Rome before coming to Pienza but the stay in Tuscany was the highlight and your hospitality made it so.

We wish you many more years of success -

Ciao,
Perry
1 May 2016


Dear Isabella, Thank you for sending this! We loved our stay in Castelmuzio--really perfect for our three generations-- and hope to return one day and send our family and friends. Of course, if you are ever in the Boston area or Maine or Cape Cod, please let us know!

Many thanks, Anne
28 April 2016


Isabella, thank you so much. We had a wonderful vacation and enjoyed your place the most!!!! We would love to come back sometime. We've been enjoying the olive oil from your farm.

Peter Fenn
21 April 2016


We want to thank you dear Isabella for a very special experience! We absolutely love Castelmuzio, so much so, that we may be neighbours one day. It was lovely to meet Carlo and Carlotta and we have told them we look forward to our next visit. I'm so glad Susan recommended you to us, and I now know why she is planning to visit you again.

Tanti baci, Veronica and Sam
19 November 2015


Ciao Isabella,

Thanks to you and your team for such an amazing visit. It was everything we dreamed it would be….and so much more. We hope to return with our sons some day soon.

Larry and I forgot to mention that we went into the leather bottega in Pienza to buy a belt for Larry and souvenir key fobs for ourselves and our boys, and we mentioned you and Carlo to Valerio. He told us he had recently tasted your wine and really enjoyed it, and he wanted us to tell you. He was very enthusiastic and insistent that we relay the message. So now we have done our job!

Very best regards,

Amy
11 November 2015


Isabella, I have been meaning to write to you. We had SUCH a wonderful time. It was magical. You make it happen. We met some really nice other people there too and have been connecting with them on Facebook. I will write to you later this morning and give good instructions for future guests to the car rental return in Firenze. Our flights home were perfect - but long. Over 24 hours, and that is hard on a 71 year old.

We miss you!!!!! I speak for Jessica too as I am sure she feels the same way. We miss Tuscany. Glad to be home with my cats and my lovely little home, but I have such wonderful memories.

My best to Carlo and Carlotta and Giancarlo and of course Luciano. Perfect vacation. I will be writing a review for Trip Advisor, not that you need another 5 star rating!!!

Dee Mahony
7 November 2015


Isabella,

Thanks so much to all of you for giving us a very special week in the Val D’Orcia. You are all beautiful hosts in a very special place. Our accommodation in Castelmuzio was very nice, and your hospitality was wonderful. Special thanks to Carlotta for her tour outings – they were terrific. Someday we hope to return!

Best,

John and Cyndee
21 October 2015


Dear Isabella,

I am sorry that it has taken me so long to tell you how very much we enjoyed our stay in Castlemuzio. Our only regret is that we didn’t stay for two weeks instead of one. It was a marvelous experience that we hope to repeat at some point in time.

You did everything possible to make our visit a pleasant one from flowers all over our apartment and a table spread with many delectable goodies to the Etruscan hermitage and the dinner at the Agriturismo. We could not have asked for more.

I want to say again how much I admire your desire to maintain the beautiful Tuscan countryside. What you have done to and for the people of Castlemuzio is admirable. I wish you many blessings for your continued efforts to build up this community.

Love and blessings to you and your family,

Suzanne Stringer
9 October 2015


Dear Isabella,

We are back home and into our daily routine but cannot get the wonderful memories of our vacation in Tuscany and the wonderful time we had with you and your loving family out of our minds.

Everything was so amazing -- from the farm tour to the trek in the valley and of course not to forget the pasta making class. We loved our town home in Castelmuzio you made it so comfort for us by supplying us with everything we would need for that week. Thank you so much we will be in touch with you as we definitely plan to visit many more times.

Hope everyone in your family are doing well.

Best wishes and hugs from all of us,
Grazie Mille

Pooja, Asit, Ankita & Arjun
5 October 2015


Hello Isabella

I have been thinking of you as Richard and I completed a three week vacation in France. If you recall we and our son and his wife stayed with you in Il Cielo two years ago September. Since then, Richard and I have cruised the Baltic (Crystal Line), done a motorcycle trip in Austria and the Chez Republic (stayed in a castle), and this fall a road trip through France,(staying at a chateau). All the trips were good, but none compared to the luxurious accommodation, attention to detail and hospitality we experienced with you. You have set a high standard no one else has come close to.

Darlene Braeder
3 October 2015


Buongiorno amica speciale! Here is what I posted online:
I have never experienced better hospitality in all of my travels. Isabella tends to every possible detail to make your stay exceptional. Carlotta is so interesting and warm as she leads you on numerous adventures. Luciano is just charming and such a hard worker. Carlo made our day showing up with pastries one morning totally unexpected and his BBQ skills are phenomenal-we loved the family pasta and BBQ dinner night!
Most the people we met there had stayed at the properties numerous times and we plan on returning in two years. I highly recommend booking with the Moricciani Family!!
I meant every word. Grazie!!
Jan Romerdahl
26 September 2015


Hi Isabella,

Thank you so much for your kind email. We had a wonderful stay at Le Casine di Castello. You especially made it very special for my family. We look forward in staying there again in the future. Thank you also for the recipes.

Arrivederci,
Aida
31 August 2015


Thanks so much! Our stay with you was the highlight of our trip. Thanks for all your effort.
Abby
27 August 2015


Dear Isabella,

It was great pleasure to stay at Le Casine di Castello! All my family members and myself have truly enjoyed our vacation. Thank you!

We also hope to come back one day in the future.

Warm regards,
Vassili
17 August 2015


Isabella,

We send our warmest birthday wishes to you!!

We also send our thanks for another amazing week! Your warmth and that of your entire family....both related and extended....made our stay in Tuscany very memorable. From the welcome "basket" in our beautiful apartment, to all of the activities and drives you so carefully arrange to the pici making & dinner, your love for what you do shines through. The attention to detail that you have makes every person feel special. You are simply the best! We hope to join you again in the future....twice isn't enough!!

Enjoy a very special birthday!

Warmly,
Connie & John Morris
4 July 2015


Ciao Isabella,

Thank you all for a most enjoyable stay, we had a fantastic time and the warm weather was great!

After a few days in Volterra we arrived back in Sweden where we had a short stop to see my daughter and give my 6 month grandson a big cuddle!

We are now waiting for the summer to arrive.... It's very windy and the temperature is around 15C.

Best wishes to you all,
Susan
16 June 2015


Hi Isabella,

Thank you for your kind regards and for taking the time to contact us. Tina and I are still in Rome - we leave tomorrow for home; everyone else has already returned home safely to the USA.

All of us very much enjoyed our stay with you; your services and enthusiasm exceeded our expectations. Everyone enjoyed being together in the town house as well as the Dolce Vita activities which you planned. We liked the Val D'Orcia area and its great beauty, as well as getting to know you and your Italian family and experiencing the way that you and your family spend your lives. It was certainly a welcome change from the cities which we had visited previously.

We hope that we will be able to return some day, although time and distance are hurdles to overcome for us at this stage in our lives. I hope that my daughters, at least, have made a valuable connection with you and will come back again. I know that they would like to do so.

Thanks for the Pici and ragu recipes. We plan to try our hand at cooking them at home.

All the best to you. Please give our regards to Carlo, Carlotta, and Luciano. We hope to see and hear from you again!

Personal regards,
Rod and Tina Sipe
30 May 2015


Dear Isabella,

We had a wonderful time in Italy, and I must tell you, with all sincerity, our stay with you was the highlight! We're already planning our trip back because there were too many things we didn't have a chance to do. And next time, we'll just be staying at one of your properties and exploring from there.

I mentioned Chateau Dumas to you the evening we made Pici. I do encourage you to look it up. Lizzie, who runs it, is like you in the way she cares for all the details and making the experience as special as possible.

Anyway, I want you to know that we do appreciate the generosity and spirit with which you run your agriturismo.

Big hugs to you and the crew!
Susan, John, Arlo, and Tess
25 May 2015


Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Austin Hawley
1 January 2015


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella,

We haven’t stopped talking about it and raving about how wonderful our experience with you and your family was. Several friends and family are asking for additional information so that they can include your destination in their trip to Italy. Hopefully us too again someday.

Grazie mille for both recipes. We are anxious to try and repeat what you taught us. Should be fun and funny for sure.

Take care,
Richard and Denise
Canada
15 October 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Hi Isabella and team

Thanks for the email and recipe we are sure to try soon with the family. But more importantly thanks for the wonderful stay- we felt very indulged in our apartment and loved the authentic events you offered as part of "dolce vita" which gave us the opportunity to experience real Tuscany rather than just wandering through villages and the countryside like many other tourists. For us being part of the grape harvest was a very special experience!

You will be pleased to know I have my case back, all intact and nothing damaged at all! Thank you for your contributions ensuring that we found our wayward case! We are spreading the word far and wide that people should NEVER fly with that airline- even if it means they have to swim to Europe. And we are also spreading the word that through our little problem we met so many kind and caring people in hospitality throughout Italy and Croatia/Slovenia and finally Paris. Thanks for being one of those people; it meant a great deal to us (me especially) at the time.

Kind regards
Julie and Peter Cooper
15 October 2014


Dear Isabella,

Ciao! What a lovely surprise to hear from you. Thank you very much for the Pici and ragu recipes-- we will need to try them soon.

We had six days in Rome after leaving Cretaiole. We are finally rested up now back at home, and reliving our beautiful Italian memories each day. We had a wonderful stay at Le Casine di Castello-- all of our needs were met, either through your books, through all the lovely little extras or personally through you and Carlotta. Thank you for everything.

We watched "The English Patient" last week as we had walked the grounds at Sant' Anna in Camprena; how funny to see the same building, cemetery and grounds that we had just recently explored!!

We do hope to come back one day, but I imagine it will be quite awhile from now!!!

Grazie mille!!!!!!
Stacy Flieller
USA
6 October 2014


[ Il Cielo and Il Nido ]

Dear Isabella, I can't begin to tell you what a wonderful time my family had. It was a wonderful Italian experience for all of us.
Your family were wonderful as was your staff.

Thank you for everything.
Mary Oddo
28 September 2014


Dear Isabella,

We've returned home safe and sound after a wonderful vacation in Italy. I wanted to let you know that our stay in Castelmuzio was one of the highlights of the trip -- the warm welcome from you, the olive oil tasting, the abundance of food upon our arrival and the surprise pastries one morning, picking vegetables from the garden, and visiting the farm. The apartment was the children's favorite place to stay on our trip.

Thank you very much!
Melanie
22 July 2014


[ Il Nido ]

Dear Isabella

Thank you so much for your email and for the great hospitality you provided to us while we were in Castelmuzio. We indeed had a memorable time and are eagerly looking forward to an opportunity to come back; but this time we want to stay longer!

We specifically wanted to thank you to send us the recipe. We can't want to give it a try here and see how well we can make Pici.

All the best and looking forward to seeing you.
Nahal & Massoud
21 July 2014


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella! So wonderful to hear from you & I am so sorry we did not have a chance to say goodbye in person.

I will definitely share our wonderful experience and will do so when I have a moment to write a very thoughtful & thorough narrative. I hope to include some of the images (& short video if that is acceptable on these sites) because often words do not accurately convey/portray the true essence of the experience. Shortly, I will send a few of the collected images I gathered during our stay.

Our thanks to Carlo as well for escorting us to the dentist yesterday following a mishap with one of David's dental caps.

Carlotta was a magnificent guide and all of us were most grateful for the care she took to make sure everyone was happy...& in such a delightful manner. And...Luciano? How could we ever forget his charming and "kalohe" (rascal) antics.

We thank you again for making our first Italy experience such a memorable one.

Molto bene!

Aloha,
Laurie
26 June 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello Isabella! So great hearing from you - my mom and I are STILL walking around in an Italian daze... such an amazing trip that exceeded ALL of our hopes and expectations. Thanks you again for the fabulous week :)

Hope all is well,
Sarah
11 June 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Thanks for everything, Isabella. We had a great time, and really enjoyed our stay.

You end Carlotta and Carlo made everything so easy and so much fun.

Hope to see you again soon.
David Zeeck
9 June 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Oh, Isabella, it was all wonderful!! Our trip to Italy was so exciting and our time in Castelmuzio and the surrounding Tuscan countryside was just amazing. Getting to know you and your family was really fun. We have so many memories of our time there and so much of it was because of your hospitality and planning for us.

We hope to see you again some day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Linda and Mike
9 June 2014


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella!
Grazie mille for everything. For sharing your homes with us, and your hospitality, and your thoughtfulness.
We are settling back in to our home finally, unpacking all of the beautiful items we purchased on our trip, each one bringing back memories of where we were (especially Montepulciano - Yvonne's favorite place to visit).
Thank you,

Hi to everybody.
Mark
24 May 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella,
I just got home and read your lovely note. Believe me, our stay with you could not have been more perfect in every way!!! It is very hard to get back to my life here and as I unpack and see all the thoughtful gifts you gave me, I am once again filled with warmth and affection for you and your family.
We definitely have a bond and I do hope I will make it back to your beautiful country to visit with you once again. I will write my thoughts to the sites you gave me and thank you for the recipes! I took a picture of the dessert in your Home Book with the custard and strawberries. I hope I will be able to read it! That was absolutely delicious.
With warmest affection,
Ann Frohlich
17 May 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao Isabella,
Our vacation was all we had hoped for and MUCH, MUCH MORE. I want to come back! I am still pinching myself, thinking it was all a dream. My sentiments exactly, we also felt we had been friends for a long time. It was very special. We loved Le Casine. All your personal touches and generosity throughout our stay was exceptional. We also enjoyed Carlo and his efforts with the TV. Our visit to the farm and meeting Luciano and Lilliana was a pure delight. Thank you for treating us to the dinner. We are both happy we were able to be there. Ann and I will both be writing a review. Once I go through the 100s of photos I took, I will send along some you might be interested in seeing. Thanks again for everything and maybe one day our paths will cross again. Stay well and keep that energy and beautiful smile always. Ciao for now ...
Baci e Abracci,
Marge Garnero
17 May 2014


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella:
So sweet of you to send a note. We just looked at all 800 photos again tonight and explained to friends our wonderful trip. Tuscany was our favorite and you helped make it just that. We miss it there soooooo much and yes, everything met our expectations. You are the most gracious host and made us feel so at home and cared for.
We hope to come back sooner than later. I have told my brother about you and where he and his wife MUST stay. :-)
Next time we will definitely stay longer and spend more time touring around.
Thank you again for the precious time we had. Our place was just adorable and I will think of it often.
Arrivederci and hugs back to you.
Devin and Clarisse
11 May 2014


[ Il Cielo and Il Nido ]

Hi Isabella,
We so loved our time at your beautiful townhouse in Castelmuzio! It was the perfect spot and your wonderful family and you were the most wonderful hosts.
Thank you for the pici recipe. We are having a family pici making party and slide show in the next few weeks. We want to bring all the dads and brothers into to experience, at least a little!
Much love to you and your family from all of us.
Nancy Heselton
7 May 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Thank you isabella for such an amazing stay. we truly loved it. we have started discussions now with tim's parents about maybe doing their 50th wedding anniversary at your villa in castelmuzio in early summer 2015! i will keep you posted.
and i hope julie can get to stay with you; i know she'd love it as much as we did! thank you again,
Amy
28 April 2014


[ Il Cielo ]

Safely back in Minnesota...but it snowed again last night! I miss Italy already!

Thank you from Wendy and I for a wonderful stay in sunny Italy. We especially thank you for your kindness and for all the fun we had! My neighbors are so impressed with my description and pictures of our apartment and the lovely baskets of food that they are thinking of changing their plans for a trip to Italy next year so that they can stay with you. I will tell them to book early.

Thank you again,
Gwen and Wendy
18 April 2014


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella,

We so often speak of the wonderful stay we had with you just one year ago! I did not have the pleasure of meeting you during our week with you, but if I mention that we are the people who lost our luggage, you may remember us. You left us in the wonderful hands of your great friends, who worked tirelessly to find our luggage, which they did. Just last weekend, my husband and I looked at our pictures of our stay in Castelmuzio, which we dearly loved. For Christmas this past year, I had a picture of the darling kitchen in our Castelmuzio apartment enlarged on canvas for my husband, and it hangs in our home where we see it every day.

We will be visiting France this year, but hope to return to Italy next year....we loved it so much.

I hope all is well with you and your family, and wish you a very blessed Easter also.

Warm regards,
Nancy Thompson
18 April 2014


Hello Isabella

On Wednesday, our son Mark, brought over a painting as a gift to us. It is a lovely scene of the countryside in Tuscany, a great memory of out trip. I understand you were very helpful in ensuring the painting arrived. Many thanks. Again you have gone beyond what could be expected!

As the Christmas season approaches I would like to wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.
Darlene Braeder
7 December 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello Isabella,

How can I begin to tell you what a fabulous host you are, all the details and plans you made, how great it was to see you being involved in everything, and made each one of us feel special and well cared for! We absolutely loved our apartment, and all the wonderful food, wine, olive oil that you provided. It was far beyond our expectations, and then some! We felt so at home and comfortable. Loved visiting your family farm, and getting to know all of you. We all came home with happy feelings and grateful to have experienced that wonderful week in Castelmuzio.
Wanted to let you know that we shared some of the cheese we bought from you with our co-workers, and everyone loved it. Also the olive oil. We have never tasted olive oil so fresh!
Yes we did enjoy making new friends and look forward to keeping in touch with them.
My birthday was a big highlight, and I thank you for helping Willie with the planning. What a unique and fun experience to cook with chef Roberto. Willie bought his book and Roberto signed it!

Again, thank you so very much, Isabella. We hope we will be able to return one day!

Respectfully,
Kay Anders
6 November 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Isa, just a quick note to thank you from the bottom of my heart! You made this past 2 weeks so incredibly special. Your family is beautiful and so kind. Danny and I appreciate everything that you did for us, a lot of which was above and beyond. I hope that I get to return one day and see all of you again!

Please tell Carlo how much we appreciate all that he did as well. He is a very dedicated and wonderful man! Give Luciano one final kiss and hug from me, tell him every time I dance, I will remember him with fondness... The twinkle in his eye is enchanting!

Carlotta ... She is one amazing and dedicated girl. We very much appreciated her help!

Finally, tell the driver of the ape, grazie mille for giving me, an American lady, the memory!

Also, tell Roberto at Latte di Luna to never stop smiling and winning the ladies over!

Hugs to all for your abundant generosity!
Kim and Danny
1 November 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Good morning, Isabella,

Ron and I want to thank you so very much for the fabulous time we had in Tuscany recently. Willie, Kay, Ron and I so much enjoyed the fabulous apartment and its amenities. It was lovely being greeted with bowls of fresh fruits and vegetables and completed guides to show us our way around Tuscany (even if we were really late to events several times). Without your help, we would have missed so much. We enjoyed ‘scratching below the surface’ of Tuscany.

I especially enjoyed the pici cooking class. What fun! I plan to share the recipe and your technique with friends. Ron and I just loved it!

Please pass along my email address to the chef who invited us into his restaurant for the morning to teach us a couple of recipes. Please ask him to send the recipes. It was such a fun experience.

Again, thank you, your family, and Carlotta for helping to make our recent vacation so very wonderful.
Donita Cole
31 October 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello Isabella -

We are now back in the United States, and still trying to get back into our routine of work and home life. It wasn't easy to come back!!

We wanted to thank you and your family for showing us such a wonderful time in Castlemuzio and at Cretaiole. We had a fantastic visit there, and are so appreciative of your care, helpful assistance, "the book," and the many good food items you made available to us at the apartment. We truly enjoyed every minute we spent there, and having a quiet week in the country was an ideal part of our trip to Italy.

We hope to be able to visit again someday ... but for now, we will get by on our happy memories!

Our best to you, Carlo, Luciano, and Carlotta -- you are truly wonderful people!

Best regards,

PS - We are so glad that we took olive oil home with us! It is delicious, and a great reminder of our visit!

Beth and Dale Jones
23 October 2013


[ Il Nido ]

Buon giorno,

Isa, Carlo, Luciano, & Carlotta,

Thank-you for making our visit to Tuscany a very memorable one. We had a wonderful time and, like Tim & Eileen, we'll also recommend your wonderful B&B to everyone. We especially enjoyed your homemade treats in the morning, that was very thoughtful.

La Bandita was a perfect venue to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The meal was superb, the staff were very attentive and the owner even took the time to visit with us.

Our favorite evening was the Pici Pasta-making class. We can’t wait for the recipe!

Thanks very much (Grazie mille),
Love, Paul & Connie Petrovich
16 October 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello Isabella

We loved our visit to Tuscany and our stay with you. We have raved about your hospitality and accommodations to all our friends and relatives.

Thank you for the recipes, I am cooking an Italian dinner this week!

Best wishes for continued success.
Darlene Braeder
14 October 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Thank you again, Isa, for another wonderful week with you, Carlo, Luciano, Nicco -- and your new assistant, Carlotta. Having our daughter and her family with us made it an even more special time this year. The birth of 4 kittens at Cretaiole was the highlight of the trip for our 12 year old granddaughter! How did you arrange that???

Even though this was our 4th visit with you there are always new things to do and see. We enjoyed staying in your Castelmuzio apartment, II Cielo for the first time. It was lovely and spacious for the 2 of us with the rooftop terrace a plus. We were still involved in the activities of Cretaiole but could retreat to the quaint small town at night----except for those evenings when we just HAD to share a glass with Luciano at Cretaiole.

Your special help with my gluten-free diet was again really appreciated. It was such a treat to find that MY welcoming basket contained GF cereal, crackers, breads, and pasta----as well as all of the fruits and veggies. For the second year you made gluten-free pici with me for the Thursday night dinner---with your delicious sauce ----and as usual, Carlo separated my gluten-free sausages from the grill used to toast bread for appetizers----thank you, Carlo!!!

Our friends keep asking us why we return to the same place in Italy. We tell them it is because of you and your family.

Our fondest regards.
Ciao,
Jo
20 August 2013


[ Il Nido ]

Hello Isabella,

Thank you for your lovely message, and I'm so sorry my reply is so late--time has just flown by since we got home, and we've both fallen behind on our e-mail. Thank you for the pici and ragu recipes--we look forward to trying them out here in Montreal. We have just finished our Mediterranean cruise....it was a very busy itinerary, but we had a wonderful time. We just wanted to email you to tell you that we had a fantastic time in Tuscany with Carlotta. She was a most gracious host, along with your father in law, Luciano. We will be sure to share our stories about your wonderful home with our friends and family.

We hope to return to Tuscany again......we loved it there.

Sincerely,
Alice and Ruben Ferrone (Canada)
10 August 2013

PS......please tell Carlotta we had a great time at the organic farm and dinner. We were a bit nervous because we were the only ones booked for it. We're so happy that we decided to go. Your friend, Sandra, did a fantastic job showing us around, then ending the evening with dinner. The meal was delicious, perhaps being one of the best meals we had.


[ Il Nido ]

Dear Isabella,

Thank you for your lovely message, and I'm so sorry my reply is so late--time has just flown by since we got home, and we've both fallen behind on our e-mail. Thank you for the pici and ragu recipes--we look forward to trying them out here in Montreal.

We had such an amazing time staying with you in Italy--it was really the trip of a lifetime for us and a week we will never forget. You and your family's kindness and hospitality made us feel very welcome, and we also hope that we will be able to come back and visit someday.

Sincerely,
Katie (and Asad)
28 July 2013


[ Il Nido ]

Grazie mille for the recipes, Isabella!

Our vacation to Italy WAS everything we had hoped and our favorite part of it was our time spent at Il Nido/Cretaiole. Thank you all again for your welcome and your many kindnesses. I do so hope we can return again, but in the meantime, stay well and happy and we will think of you often, I know.

Arrivederci,
Dawn & Eduardo
8 July 2013


[ Il Nido ]

We stayed at Il Nido in Castelmuzio and loved every moment of our visit. You and your family and the little village we stayed in could not have been more welcoming and Jack and I can not begin to thank you for all your efforts. When arriving at any restaurant that you booked for us we were welcomed as if royalty. Spending a day with Roberto was as mentioned in your itinerary the best of the best. Making pici with all of your guests and visiting the farm was amazing. What a team you all are! Sadly you were busy with the details of seeing your Father in the hospital and we send our deepest condolences to you. I am reporting back to you that Carlotta and All were fabulous in greeting us all on the farm tour in your absence. I loved watching the relationship expressed between your son and Grandmother. If the opportunity exists and is easy could you please forward any weekly itinerary that you provide your guests for my book. Somehow it is missing from our travels and is my highlight....your efforts for your guests is truly amazing. We thank you and wish you health and happiness and a much needed vacation!
Fondly,
Louise Halm
1 July 2013


[ Il Nido ]

Good Morning from Tennessee!

Thank you for the recipes! We were just discussing how wonderful our trip was, and how we would heartily recommend your delightful accommodations to anyone. Especially helpful were the driving itineraries, as our daughter, who stayed near Montepulciano, had many frustrating drives trying to find locales. Also, the interesting activities, and your special touches made for a pampered stay!

Just today, I was looking thru a magazine, mentioning Carrara marble, (and we saw those mountains!) We did see and do a lot, and have fantastic memories. We do hope to return some day! Until then, your lovely places will receive our recommendations to any who inquire!

Hoping the weather is now warm and dry!
Diane and Ron Shanks
12 June 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello Isabella,

We have now been back home in Boston for a week, but we are still thinking about you and the wonderful home that you and Carlo and Carlotta made for us in Tuscany. I'm sure we'll be enjoying our memories for a long time! We have been savoring your olive oil on bread each day too. I'm wondering if you could send us the recipe/instructions for making pici. That was one of the highlights of our stay, and we'd love to get some friends together for a pici-making party. Then maybe we'll send some of them your way. They couldn't do better in Tuscany!

By the way, my brother-in-law, Dick Green, just wrote a Trip Advisor review extolling the many virtues of Le Casine Di Castello.

I hope your father's health has improved. All our best to your family and especially to Carlotta, who took such good care of all of us while you were away.

Thanks again!
Margery Wieder (for Jim Wieder, and Dick and Dana Green)
22 May 2013


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella,

My husband Roger and I had the great joy of meeting you and your family in May of 2011. We stayed at your lovely apartment in Castelmuzio (the little nest) and your kindness and generosity helped to create an amazing experience of you and your country. I imagine it might seem a bit odd that I am writing to you so long after our visit, but there is a reason. While we were in Castelmuzio we wrote several songs which we had intended to send you a copy of the recording with a proper thank you. But life took over, the recording took longer and alas here I am several years later contacting you.

We have recorded a cd that includes two songs inspired by you and your touching hospitality. We would like to mail you a copy of the cd but I am not sure of your mailing address. I know we could send you an electronic copy of the music but we would like you to see the cd package.

I am including a picture of us just to help you remember us. No need to be concerned if you don't. Maybe a possible thing to jog your memory is that my husband and I had the amazing good fortune of taking a cooking class at your villa. I believe it was the first time Manuele had conducted a cooking class at the villa.

I hope you and your family are all doing well and again thank you so much. We look forward to sharing our music with you.

Fondly,
Lane and Roger
22 May 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Thanks, Isabella!

How nice to hear from you! I had a fabulous time and would love to return sometime with my girls!

Thank you for the pici recipe. I think Norene and I should try and make it here.

Please tell Carlotta thank you for her help, also. We called her on the phone several times and she was always so helpful and kind to us.

Kind regards, (but I hope to see you again!)
Cecelia
19 May 2013


[ Il Cielo ]

Isabella,

The trip to la Toscana and our stay in Le Casine di Castello was all we could have wished for and more, and we'll be back for sure as we felt it was too short (as all good trips are :) ). Thank you so much for your hospitality and I am keen to try the pici recipe these holidays.

Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones,
Celia Maria Sau
10 December 2012


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao Isabella,

So lovely to hear from you. Our trip to Italy including Castelmuzio was beyond what we could have imagined. Our time with you, Carlo and Luciano was wonderful and we met some amazing people will staying there. In fact Valerie and Bob from the US are coming to visit us here in Perth in January.

Thank you for your recipe for the Pici. We were so inspired after leaving Tuscany that we did it all again in Umbria the very next week. It was a little more challenging as we didn’t have the Pici boards however we persevered on a smooth wooden table (not ideal) and cooked up a Tuscan treat along with numerous Carlo style Tuscan BBQs at the agriturismo where we were staying.

Thanks to Carlo, I’ve also become an “Olive Oil snob” only choosing the best after our workshop with you.

Since returning home we have planted out all our Italian wine cuttings and the Sangiovese are loving it. We hope to be producing about 10 Italian wines in a few years.

Anyway thank you again for our most memorable time. It truly was a dream holiday.

All the very best for the Festive Season and perhaps you will visit Australia soon and we could do an Aussie style Pici!!!

Kind regards
Lucy, Eric, Emily and Geordie.
Western Australia
3 December 2012


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao Isabella!

Thank you so much for the nice week in Tuscany. The apartment we stayed in was absolutely wonderful. We really felt welcome. Wine tasting and the evening with homemade pasta was truly a memorable experience. Nice guests and your generous and fantastic family. Have told our friends how nice we had and also shown them on your website.

Again, many thanks and hugs to you and your family from us.

Also many thanks for the recipes.
Mona and Stefan
7 October 2012


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella and Carlo,

Thank you for the very nice week. We enjoyed Il Nido immensely. Our trip was everything we hoped for. We loved the countryside and doing so many fun activities.

Judy would like a copy of your Pici recipe and also the Ragu recipe, soooo good. Would you please send it to us?

You are very good at being a host and Carlo was so gracious as well.

If you are ever in California look us up and we will return the favor.

Ciao,
Cort and Judy Ray
21 September 2012


[ Il Nido ]

Dear Isa,

Both Greg and I want to thank you for making our first visit to Toscana a trip of a lifetime. Because of your caring and understanding of the Val d'Orcia and the people who live there it made us appreciate and understand the local culture like we never could have on our own. The apartments are just beautiful and the daily activities that we may choose from our just all memorable. You have a remarkable family and a great gift to share with others. We hope to return someday because you made it so magical. Thank you again so much. You are a world class hostess. Also when you are not too busy because of guests and the grape harvest, I would love to have the Pici recipe. I really enjoyed the challenge and I am sure my children would love to return home from university and have a taste.

Mille Grazie,
Elizabeth White
18 September 2012


[ Il Nido ]

Thank you so much Isabella! We had such a wonderful time during our stay. We actually had a pici making party with Matt's family last weekend, which was a great success!

We hope all is well with you and yours and that you have a lovely summer in Tuscany. Please do let us know if you'd ever like to make a trip to NYC!

Best regards,
Brianna
5 June 2012


[ Il Cielo ]

Isabella, we just wanted to thank you again for making our two weeks with you and your family so special. You, Carlo, Luciano and the rest of the family have really created an environment that allows your guests to truly experience your wonderful corner of the world in way that otherwise would not be possible. We look forward to returning soon.

Tom and Jean Robinson
30 May 2012


[ Il Nido ]

Dear Isabella,

It has been a year since Sid and I were in Tuscany and had that wonderful week at the town house in Castelmuzio with you. We still talk about the great vacation we had and hoped we would join you again this year. Unfortunately Sid had surgery in February and is still on the mends. He is doing very well but no travel this year but we hope to see you next year when we are in the pink.

We have referred you to several of my clients and always smile when we discuss you. It was a 10-day vacation we will not forget. Hope you and your family are well and enjoying the spring summer climate.

We will keep in touch,
Madeleine and Sid Polan
15 May 2012


[ Il Cielo ]

Good morning from Chicago, Isabella!

Michele and I left Jenny and Joe at Fiumicino Airport Tuesday morning. We headed in different directions, each of knowing that Tuscany will always be an intense, happy and inspirational memory.

Thank you for your hospitality and help during our wonder-filled stay. Michele and I hope to see you again.
Dan
10 May 2012


[ Il Cielo ]

Hey Isabella, We got home safely! We had a wonderful time staying at your townhouse. When I get a few minutes I will put photos up and write a review. I would highly recommend anyone to stay at any of the facilities. Thank you so much for all your advice and help. I know we only had a short visit but you helped us to make the most of it. Hope this note finds you and your family doing well. I will upload my Tuscany pics on facebook soon.

Grazie mille and arrivederci,
Maureen
29 April 2012


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao, Isabella! Shannon & I are still savoring the memories of Tuscany J It has been sweet to re-live our time there as we’ve posted photos on FB. Thank you again for such a lovely stay at Il Nido and the pleasure of enjoying various Cretaiole events!

Shannon is wondering if she could get the ragu recipe from you – or whatever it is called that was ladled on top of our own handmade pici! It was so tasty! Thanks for sharing this!

Grazie,
Joy Dager
24 April 2012


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello Isabella,

We had the most amazing visit and the main reason it was so wonderful was because of you! We used your big red book every single day and Il Cielo was the very best place to stay. Thank you again for your hospitality. I would love to visit again in the future and will definitely be staying with you when we can get back there.

Ciao!
Leslie Hudson
19 March 2012


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isa,

I have to tell you again, that we fell in love with Castelmuzio. It has a charm to it that I can’t put into words. We loved walking the streets in the evening and listening to the conversations from the apartment windows along with the clatter of dishes and silverware, and the mouth-watering aromas that filled the evening air. We felt like we were “home”, which is why it didn’t matter that we didn’t get to do “everything”. We did exactly what we had planned to do; savor the moment. …

Warmest Regards,
Vic
21 December 2011


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella,

What a fantastic, and magical life you live….we were so fortunate to have you rescue us…

Thank you and Carlo for allowing us to experience Tuscany in a very unique way

Until next time…

Bill and Lynn Enyart
5 November 2011


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella,

Once again I cannot express to you in words how happy we were to stay here and honestly hope we can make it back at some point in the future. You and your family have definitely made our first trip to Italy (Tuscany specifically) unforgettable. I feel as though we have made life long friends, and am sad to have to leave here.

Take care, and god bless.

Rick and Linda Zizzamia
21 October 2011


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao, Isabella. We have returned home to our home in Victoria, British Columbia, to find much cooler weather. Autumn has definitely arrived here! We are slowly acclimatizing to wearing warmer clothing.

We want to thank you for the wonderful introduction and guidance to exploring the Val d'Orcia. Fond memories will keep us company for a long time - of Cretaiole, Castelmuzio, your family's warm welcome, and the many villages, towns and roads explored. We plan to have a "pici night" with a group of friends including our Castelmuzio mates Sheila & Chery and Harold & Anita. Will you please email me your pici making instructions. Thanks!

All the best to you and your family,

Karin Macaulay
17 October 2011


[ Il Nido ]

Hi Isa,

Hope you and your family are doing well. Thought I'd share the pictures Vic took of our experience two weeks ago in preparation for your pici making class tonight. I especially like that last shot of Harold, one of the two men who stayed upstairs from us in Castelmuzio....he is having such a good time!

We very much enjoyed our visit thanks to you and your family's warm hospitality. The time we spent with you helped to give us a true understanding of what it's like to work, live and love in Tuscany.

Our last week in Italy was spent in the Cortona area, and although we love Cortona, we don't like the surrounding area nearly as well as we do Val D'Orcia. Can't wait to come back.

Please give our regards to Carlo and Luciano!

Lynn and Vic Johansen
13 October 2011


[ Il Nido ]

Hi, Isabella.

We are now home and I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful week. I feel like we learned more about Italy that week than we did in the other 3 weeks we were there.

You said you would share your recipe for ragu if we requested it, so here I am.

Also, would you tell me exactly what wording I should look for on the olive oil bottle to ensure it really is a product of Italy.

Thank you again for everything you did to make our visit memorable.

Terry Creeth
9 October 2011


[ Il Cielo ]

This was our 5th visit to Pienza and first stay with Isabella and her family. We travel by bicycle and rarely spend time with English speaking tourists. As such, we approached our stay at Le Casine di Castello with some reservations. Well, we can't wait until we can return to Castelmuzio and to Le Casine di Castello. We have never stayed at an apartment that was so well furnished for cooking and touring, either in the US or abroad. We have stayed near Castelmuzio, but not in the paesino (better word than village to describe the location with 200 inhabitants) so we knew it would be fantastic for bike touring, half way between Montalcino and Montepulciano, with the whole Val d'Orcia right there.

What we did not expect was the variety of activities arranged with Isabella's friends and associates. Some we went to by bike. For others we hitched rides with other folks staying in Castelmuzio or at the agriturismo or with Ilario, Isa's friend who drives a local taxi. Ilario, by the way, is a fund of local knowledge and history and was extremely patient with my stumbling italian. It was unusually hot, for the time of year and we had some health issues, so we did not ride as much as we had planned, but our days were full, to say the least.

Don't miss the visit to the family farm and romitorio, complete with Etruscan artifacts that the Italian govt won't let archeologist excavate...and hear that story and others. Being there in September meant we could still harvest tomatoes (the best ever!!!) and other veggies from the agriturismo garden. And by all means, take the pici making class and stay for the pot luck. You may even get to try Luciano's (Isabella's father in law) grappa and vin santo. The former is, well, is grappa. The vin santo is heavenly.

Most of all enjoy Pienza and the most gracious, fun, lively family you may ever meet. All this and more at Cretaiole and Le Casine di Castello.

Carol Bergson
1 October 2011


[ Il Cielo ]

Isabella,
Just taking a short break between making the pici and cooking it for dinner. We got home last night and with jet lag I needed a task to just keep me awake and busy while doing laundry. We now have three meals worth of pici...what a treat. Thank you so much for sharing part of yourself and your family with us, as well as with your other visitors at Cretaiole. We can't wait to return, hopefully within two years. Please pass my regards to your father-in-law. All future vin santo will be a poor comparison to his!

Arrivederci,
Carol Bergson
25 September 2011


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella,
Thank you so very much for helping us create a magical vacation! We've fallen in love with the Val d'Orcia, the wonderful people of Castelmuzio and Pienza, and of course the amazing Moricciani family! Your warmth, generosity and love for the Val d'Orcia allowed us to feel immersed in the culture, to feel like we were not just tourists but part of the community. Photographs fail to do justice to the beauty of the countryside and we loved spending time with your family, as well as meeting people such as Ulisse, Sandra and Fred who have such a deep connection to the land. We hope to return someday and wish you all well.

Warm regards,
Michelle Groenke
17 August 2011


[ Il Cielo and Il Nido ]

Hello Isabella!

I am just now getting organized and going through e-mails after our trip home. We had a wonderful time in Italy and our family agrees, you are "the hostess with the mostest" - you know how to make people feel welcome and comfortable - THANK YOU!! Thanks for taking care of our parking tickets and for the delicious and enjoyable dinner at Cretiaole! We also appreciate the information on the Brunello wine. Nick has commented many times how much he appreciated your talk during the Etruscan tour. He said it made him feel more connected with and gave him a greater appreciation for the Italian culture.

Once again, thanks for the great memories!
Love from the Steffen family, Mark and Lori
29 July 2011


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella!

I have returned from my summer in Italy and would like to have some friends over to share my adventures and make pici! I'm sure you are extremely busy, but I would be most appreciative if you could send me the recipe for pici and your ragu. I need to create a little cookbook of authentic recipes to place in our school library to fulfill the obligations of the grant I received to travel to Italy and would like to include yours with some pictures of the pici class. Jeff and I had such a wonderful time staying with you in early June (we stayed in Il Nido). You are an amazing hostess and your family is delightful. The week we spent with you was by far the highlight of my 6 weeks in Italy. I learned so much from listening to your stories and we both appreciated your passion and effort in making our stay so enjoyable. You are an extraordinary woman.

Hope you are all well and having a wonderful summer.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
Tricia Gustaitis
5 August 2011


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella!

It is the first day home for us, sadly :-( We never had a chance to say good-bye and to thank you for our wonderful stay! We really enjoyed our time in Castelmuzio and the Val D'Orcia and hope we will be back again someday!!

I admire all the work you have done to your homes and all the activities and family interactions you have planned for your guests adds a special touch!

Take care and grazie again!
Wancy & Jason
27 June 2011


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella,

After leaving Il Cielo we were off to Sicilia. While we had a wonderful time there, we kept reminiscing about our time in Castelmuzio and at Cretaiole--nothing could top our week in Tuscany and we are already talking about when we can return. Thank you so much for all you did to make this vacation so memorable.

Until next time...with our warmest regards,
Nancy, Glenn, Ginger and Tom
30 May 2011


[ Il Cielo ]

Hi Isabella:

Just want you to know that Jack and I had a lovely time in Tuscany a couple of weeks ago and loved staying at Le Casine di Castello. Thank you so much for inviting us to the pici cooking class. It was truly a highlight of our visit. Next time we come we want to stay at Cretaiole! Looking forward to it in the future. Have a blessed holiday season and thank you again for your hospitality.

The Linds
30 November 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao Isabella and Family,

Thank you for your heartfelt and beautifully written e-mail. I had intended to write to you as well and have not had much time since our return from Italy. Yes, I will be most happy to write my thoughts and impressions of our stay with you and your family as will Stephanie and Chris.

You cannot imagine how much joy and awe I felt returning to Italy after a 41 year absence. My first visit was in 1969 when I had just finished college, and although I have many relatives in southern Italy, I have not returned until now. I promise that I will not wait so long to return again.

You are an amazing and gracious woman, Isabella. I enjoyed everything very much about our stay. You taught us many things and warmly welcomed us into your family. I will always appreciate this most of all and never forget the memories of this. I have already recommended that others in my family make this trip and stay with you.

Until we do see each other again in the future, I send you and all of your family many warm wishes for a wonderful Christmas season, and again, thank you for everything that you did for us at Le Casine di Castello.

Best Regards,
Rose
29 November 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

Hello all, I concur with the eloquently stated comments from Gaia, Tom and Liz. Val d'Orcia had its own magic which has now become a part of all of us. Arriving later in the week did not not require any time to adjust. I was enfolded in the love of Isabella and family, all of the guests who had become family and Gaia, Tom and Liz, my brother and sisters in the love of travel and adventure. Even after one evening my heart was full of wonder and love, my stomach was EXTREMELY full with indescribably delicious food and my head spinning from wine, vinsanto, grappa and laughter. :) I appreciate the generosity, the opportunities, the teaching and the cultural immersion shared at Cretaiole. My 2 1/2 days there presented gifts to me I will cherish always. Since I did not experience the full week I might find it necessary to return for the FULL experience one day. I only look forward to that. Thanks and love to all,

Teri Berglund
25 November 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao my friend,

I know Gaia responded for us and we hope you enjoy some of the pictures. We were blessed to have spent our first week in Italy with you because it set very high and authentically Italian standards for our entire trip. Our stay with you and your family was the highlight of our trip.

Please give Luciano our warmest regards, we think of and speak of him often. Let him know we enjoyed the wheel of his pecorino for the remainder of our time in Italy. All of your/his families food and drink was everything that I had anticipated prior to our trip. I read recently that every prayer is made in the presence of the answer, the answer suggesting the prayer. Your were our answer.

Hope you get a chance to cook the wild rice from Minnesota and perhaps have a hearty soup with the family on a cold winter day.

Until next time we sent Peace and Love to you all.
Tom
24 November 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

Thank you Isabella for your lovely note. You and your hospitality continue to be present everyday in my thoughts. We could not have had a more cherished time. When we left Val d' Orcia, we understood what you had said about Val d' Orcia being Val d' Orcia but that the tourist industry depicts all of Tuscany as having the beauty of your area which is not true. We experienced for ourselves the uniqueness and special beauty that can only be seen in your region of Tuscany. I have already told everyone I know that if they are ever planning a trip to Italy I will be available to help them plan their stay with you! I will be happy to post thoughts and impressions on your important web sites.

I will send you the link to some pics that I think you and your family will enjoy.

Just yesterday Tom received the wine he bought at the women's vineyard and winery in Montalcino. It is sitting on the dining room table so constant reminders of you and Tuscany surround us!

Warm regards from Minnesota!
Gaia Fenna
24 November 2010


[ Il Nido ]

Ciao Isabella!

Our stay was absolutely lovely, made so by the accommodations at Il Nido and the hospitality shown by you and your family!

Now I am trying to convince my husband to consider getting on an airplane to Italy and spending a wonderful week in Tuscany with you sometime in the future (he hates flying!).

Again, thank you so very much for making our stay so amazing! Had I known how wonderful the Val d'Orcia was, I would have stayed the whole 3 weeks there!

Thank you again, so much!
Vickie Cyr
24 November 2010


[ Il Nido ]

Hello Isabella:

We are back safely in Canada and wanted to take a moment to give you and your wonderful family a huge thank you for all you did for us. We truly enjoyed the trip of a lifetime and your hospitality was so very much appreciated.

In speaking with our family and Canadian friends, I find myself saying over and over that it seemed that we were treated like cousins of the Moricciani family. You welcomed us into your lives as if we were family and for this we are especially grateful.

I know that you must hear many happy thanks from your guests so please let us lend our voices to that happy group. Thank you, thank you, Thank you!

Please as well, let Luciano and Carlo know how much we appreciated all that they did to make our vacation special.

Many Thanks
Bob & Penny Emerson
1 November 2010


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella, Carlo & Luciano,

We are home in Williamsburg, Virginia and still missing your wonderful hospitality and our stay in Il Nido. We truly had a wonderful week there. We now know that the Val d'Orcia is our favorite area of Italy and that Castelmuzio is our favorite small village.

An extra thanks to you for the special care concerning my gluten-free diet with Luciano cutting my cheese and meats separately and you making sure your sauce stayed safe for me. A special thanks to Luciano for his fresh vegetables which I picked 3 times during our one week visit---delicious!

The only negative is that I had to dispose of the olive oil in my cupboard when we got home------thanks to Carlo's expertise,no more of that cat p--- for us, only extra virgin from a specific Tuscan site.

We hope to return to enjoy more time in your very special part of Italy.

If you hear of any tiny apartments in Castelmuzio for sale or long term rental please let us know.

Thank you again. With warmest regards and Ciao,
Jo & Bob Hanny
28 September 2010


[ Il Nido ]

Dear Isa,

Thank you so much for the wonderful week at Il Nido. It was better than we could have hoped for. The central location was great for all of the side trips we made and the dinners (Assumption Feast and Pici night) were wonderful and delicious. I will be trying to make the pici in the next few weeks and will let you know how it goes. Dinner at the Monastery was also a real treat and will make a good story!

Your "tour books" were an incredible source of information and inspiration. I had some initial plans that went out the window after reading your itineraries; yours were so well planned out and we loved them! The trip to the Hermitage was so special, thank you for sharing that with your guests.

I hope that we will be back to Italy in 2 years and if we are, I hope that we can come back to stay at Cretaiole at that time.

Meeting your family and being included in the Assumption of Mary feast was really the best part of staying at Il Nido. We really felt a part of the culture for at least one night. Ahh, and Luciano : - ) what a sweetheart! He makes me want to learn to speak Italian so I could talk with him more. I know tomorrow is his 70th birthday so I am hoping you will pass this on to him for me:

Caro Luciano,

Buon Compleanno! Spero che la giornata e speciale e pieno di amore. Sei un ospite generoso e abbiamo amato il nostro tempo a Cretaiole, grazie.

Con il caldo per quanto riguarda,

Tori & Bill Nelson

Thank you again Isa, you gave us such beautiful memories and brought Italy to life for us.

HUGS,
Tori Nelson
31 August 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella,

You and your family provided so much warmth, hospitality, and enthusiasm that we're already talking about our next visit!

I've been bragging about my score of 27 on the olive oil tasting... and I had really bad allergies!!! Next time I'll break 30! Maybe I can do an internship with Carlo.

I hope you have a nice warm summer....... we don't want the grape skins to get too thin!!!

Ciao!
Jarett Kaplan
25 June 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

We had such a good time at your apartment in Castelmuzio, we would love to return one day and will most definitely recommend it or your other sites to anyone we know who is going to Tuscany. We will send our pictures of the pasta making evening when we get ourselves organized.

Our stay with you was one of the highlights of our trip, we all enjoyed the apartment, meeting you and your family, and of course, Tuscany! Thank you for such a grand welcome, we felt very much at home and that you all wanted us to be there and to enjoy ourselves.

Ellen and Mike Lewis
15 June 2010


[ Il Nido ]

Isabella:

Thanks for taking time to send us a follow-up email message. We definitely enjoyed our stay at Il Nido and with the Famiglia Moricciani. Even though we had good times touring the major sites and soaking up the general ambience of Florence and Rome (before and after our week at Il Nido, respectively), it was our week with you, your family, and your Cretaiole guests that was clearly the highlight of our entire trip. Your organizational expertise, as evidenced by the week’s printed program/options and the very thorough and helpful notebooks (Itineraries; Folios), is nothing short of incredible. As we respond to the inevitable question from our Baton Rouge family members as to “ What did you enjoy most?”, we keep coming back to making pici with you and the luncheon with Federico at the winery, among other Pienza-connected events, as on the top of our list. Fond memories, all. Thanks for applying so much positive energy toward making our stay so special. We will have no hesitation whatsoever recommending Cretaiole and the Famiglia Moricciani to our friends and acquaintances for a future stay in Tuscany.

By the way, our return flight from Rome to D. C. was delayed five hours in departing, ostensibly because of the volcano ash cloud. That delay, and a rerouting of the flight around Iceland, caused us to experience a near-24-hour travel day. You may remember that we “lost” our planned stay at Cinque Terre (and perhaps our pre-paid hotel room charges, too) because our initial flight from New Orleans was cancelled, forcing us to miss all of our front-end plane connections and thus our two-night stay in Cinque Terre. We were to have gone to Cinque Terre before Florence and Il Nido. We have yet to meet with our travel agent to work out any refund details (hotel, train tickets). Our agent had urged us to purchase trip insurance, a good move, as it turned out.

Those unfortunate incidents will fade over time, however, in favor of our warm feelings for your hospitality and our Il Nido experience. Thanks for everything.

Ciao,
Ron and Jane Ross
14 May 2010


[ Il Cielo ]

We had a delightful time staying in Castelmuzio. We loved all the activities that you planned, the views, the people the atmosphere. Thank-you so very much.

We have told our friends about you and hopefully some of them will get to go.
Karen and Chris Bryant
1 December 2009


[ Il Nido ]

We spent August 29 through September 12, 2009 in the charming "Il Nido" apartment in the medieval village of Castelmuzio, Italy. Two weeks is definitely not enough time to enjoy this area of Tuscany. We had read many reviews before booking our visit and it's rare to find everything exactly as others reported, but in this case it was. All the other reviews described the quaint apartment and it's lovely furnishings, so there's no need to repeat them. Our apartment was very well equipped, very comfortable and the small garden area was lovely and private. The apartment even included a four burner real gas stove with two Italian coffee pots and a starter supply of wonderful Italian coffee - a great start to every day!! We would simply tell you that you can believe everything you read in TripAdvisor about this charming place.

We cannot say enough about Isabella Moricciani and her concerns for her lodgers. She has thought of everything to make your visit perfect in every way. She has many different activities planned if you choose to participate. Any activity that Isabella was leading was tremendously informative. She is very passionate about the Val d'Orcia area you are in. You will learn more from her discussions than from any guide book. There is also a wealth of information in the books she has prepared for her guests to use.

Don't miss Isabella's tour of the family owned Romitorio which begins with her insight into the people of the area in a way that explains the culture and history of an interesting and deep rooted way of life. The tour of the Romitorio include artifacts of medieval, Etruscan and even earlier occupation of the site.

Before you begin the Pici making class, she even gives you a nice background of pasta making. The meal that followed was wonderful. Making the pasta, then eating it with new friends at long wooden tables while enjoying a glass of their own wine, is truly a Tuscan dream. The Val d'Orcia is to us the most beautiful area of Tuscany, and, of course, all of Italy. There are so many charming hill towns all around to be explored and delightful meals to be enjoyed. We had never eaten black truffles until this trip and we can't wait to return to for a month in Il Nido and Il Cielo next fall to eat them again at "La Bottega delle Crete Osteria" in San Giovanni d'Asso.

This was our fifth trip to Italy and never have we felt so safe in our lodging. We would be happy to share our experience with anyone interested in staying here. If you have ever thought of traveling here, stop thinking and do it! With Isabella's help you will have the trip of your dreams.
Carole and Marston Brown
14 November 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella & Family,

As performers we understand passion! What you do every week is nothing short of astounding. You are putting on your own production and as we like to say in theatre, you are performing "FULL OUT!" That's a big compliment =)

Sad to go, but happy to have met you and discovered your family's work. I could go on and on but it's best summed up by saying, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Also, we were wondering if you ship any of your products? We would love some more olive oil and wine before the Christmas Holidays.

Yours,
Sarah & Josh
2 November 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Hi Isa,

I wanted to thank you again for making our stay in Castelmuzio so special. I know it's been said before, but it's your enthusiasm and energy, and your obvious love for what the people and land of Val d'Orcia represent, that added so much to our experience there! And on top of that, of course it's just a glorious place.

We are fortunate to have our daughter with her husband and 3 children (who all normally live in Portugal) spending a year living with us in Maryland. We haven't tried to make pici yet, but I'm looking forward to trying it out with them. I found your ragu recipe on your website to have with it.

Hope you are all enjoying beautiful fall weather there and that the olive harvest goes well.

With warm wishes,
Molly Merrill
30 October 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella and Carlos,

Thank you so much for your beautiful note following our visit to your lovely country. We all had such a wonderful experience. We were overwhelmed with the wonderful opportunities you provided for really feeling a part of the Val d'Orcia. We learned to appreciate the history of your land, family, traditions, wine, olive oil, Pici, and so much more.

We had no idea how fortunate we were to be able to participate in the grape harvesting. It certainly was hard work but so much fun meeting and working along side your family, other guests and volunteers. And the gathering at lunch following the harvest was such a gift. Thank you for all your planning.

We loved our little Villa. We had enough room for 5 of us and made use of the kitchen, laundry facilities, patio and the charm of Castlemuzio.

I have tried to describe the unique experiences we had to my own family. I think the only way they will understand the experience is to plan another trip with with my children and grandchildren. It would be amazing.

We wish you much success with the plans for your new Villa in Caselmuzio. It was fun to see the beginning of those dreams.

Peace and Good,

Sincerely,
Maggie Clancy
27 October 2009


Dear Isabella, Peter and I are eternally grateful for the superior experiences that you and your family arranged for us. I will write more later, but wanted you to know that we cherish the fun and joy of our stay with you.

Ciao and grazie!
Nancy Bryant
25 July 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Ciao Isabella:

We have returned home to Virginia, and are recovering from our travels and catching up at work. I wanted to thank you for your wonderful hospitality and coordination while we were staying in Castelmuzio. We enjoyed our stay very much, including the several group events that you had arranged for your guests. Debbi’s parents thoroughly enjoyed the trip and we were glad to show them the most beautiful area that you get to call home. We will gladly recommend you to anyone that might be traveling there, and hope to return someday ourselves.

I trust you found everything okay at Il Cielo after we left on Saturday.

Please give our best to Carlo and your family. And thank everyone for their warmth and hospitality.

Auguri e grazie
Brian Burgher
8 June 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Isabella, I have already raved about your country place, Il Cretaiole. I also want to put in a good word for Il Cielo, your two-bedroom apartment where we stayed in Castelmuzio. It is a sweet and comfortable haven. We enjoyed having a kitchen, and made some great meals (frittata, pasta, salads) that we enjoyed up on the terrace. It was great to have a "home" base, where we could relax, and make coffee in the morning. We did laundry, and enjoyed all the lotions and toiletries you made available. The lace in the windows and the old wooden shutters framed great views - the half-bath on the landing wins the prize for the most beautiful view from a bathroom, anywhere, ever.

The village was great - we had a running contest as to who had the most gorgeous roses and the most historic door knocker. It was fun to feel a part of village life, to shop in the Co-op and have a cappuccino at the bar. Lively discussions about soccer and the weather drifted up from the streets, and church bells and horse hooves on cobblestone were the sounds we woke up to (well, and trucks heading off to work).

Your binders of information were very helpful. Thanks again for making our stay so pleasant. Ciao, grazie, Anne
Anne Lukin - Canada
8 June 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella,

Brian joins me in wishing you, Carlo and your boys a Happy Easter from Colorado! We returned home on Friday night after extending our stay in Rome for a few days longer. Last week's L'Aquila earthquake was a reminder of how fragile and fleeting life is and how important it is to cherish and savor each moment with our family and friends. The survivors and victims have been in the hearts of many Americans we know since many contacted us for the latest news while we were traveling.

We had such a wonderful and memorable time in Castelmuzio and the surrounding area and have shared this special place with friends and family who have asked about our stay there. Truly, you pamper your guests with all the thoughtful amenities and additions to the apartment and your guidance to the area's activities. We took some nice family photos on the terrace of Il Cielo a few days before we left and I will send them to you along with some other lovely photos of Toscana's landscapes when Brian has pulled them from his camera.

Please keep in touch.

Warmly,
Mona Hart
12 April 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

When planning my trip to Italy I discovered Agriturismos Cretaiole through Rick Steve's graffiti wall and was impressed with what I had read. Because of that wonderful review, my mom, my sister and I had an unforgetable experience in the beautiful area of Val'd Orcia. When I emailed Isabella, she promptly answered and although the rooms were full at her place she offered an apartment in the village of Castelmuzio. We loved staying there and we were very close to Pienza which was wonderful to visit. The area is just beautiful with plenty to see, wine to taste, delicious food and very friendly people. We also visited Siena, Florence and many towns right in the Val'd Orcia area. Isabella really provided us with so many options of how to best enjoy our stay that it made our trip very special.If you stay in Castelmuzio it is necessary to rent a car-a small one-gas is expensive!! Don't worry about the driving-unless of course it is in the big cities! Take the train in that case. Get an International driver's license before you go from AAA-quite easy. We flew into Rome and we had read so many things about crazy driving we all were anxious about it. Don't worry, the Rome airport is on the outskirts of the city and it wasn't too difficult to follow the main highway. The only thing that takes some getting used to is the very curvy roads with hairpin turns in some cases-not to mention very fast Italians and in my case my mother!!But honestly the adventure was fun:) Go on the wine tour Isabella suggests (Brunello wine I believe) and you will have a wonderful meal along with it. Really just go. Take in the absolute beauty of Tuscany. I will be going back without a doubt and I will arrange it through www.lecasinedicastello.com again...maybe I shouldn't tell everyone about it!
Kim Clairmont - USA
28 January 2009


[ Il Cielo ]

Dear Isabella and family,

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas and New Year!!

Well it's been a while now since we stayed in your beautiful Castelmuzio back in May this year. John and I and our friend Aileen really loved our stay with you and it was certainly the highlight of our Italian holiday. One thing I forgot to get from you was the recipe for the meat sauce you used on our pici night. Would you mind sending it to me? That was such a great night and we really enjoyed the meal and meeting the other people staying at the farm.

We have such lovely memories of your beautiful Val D'orca valley and we would love to come back again some day.

Greetings to all of you and we hope you keep safe and well in the New Year.

Love,
Kathy and John - Australia
19 December 2008


[ Il Nido ]

My wife and I just returned from our Italian vacation--a wonderful 5-week trip of a lifetime. We went to so many places--Rome, Florence, Venice, Lake Como, and Cinque Terre--but the week that stays in our minds the most is the week in Castelmuzio--staying in Il Nido at Isabella's place--Le Casine di Castello. We almost forgot we were tourists for that week--and almost began to believe we actually lived in Italy--THAT is how authentic it felt to stay at Il Nido in Castelmuzio, and with the guidance we got from Isa. Except for the language difference (and no, we do not speak Italian, although we intend to learn some and come back!!!) it felt like going to a good friend's hometown and finding out from the locals just exactly where to go and not go, where to eat and not eat, etc.

The people who live in this little village were very friendly to us--always nodding, smiling, and saying "buon giorno" (actually, just "giorno!") to us. The little grocery store, the Coop, had everything we needed and was only a few steps from our front door. Parking was easy--which is something, considering how most Italian villages are. And the location of Castelmuzio is perfect for people who want to see the Val d'Orcia and towns such as Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, and Siena. Next time we come, we want to stay here and take daytrips to Assisi, Perugia, and Cortona.

To know how great Isabella is, and the entire Moricciani family, you should also read the reviews for Agriturismo Cretaiole. But, we really are glad we stayed at Il Nido because we felt we got the best of both worlds--the activities and amenities of Cretaiole (the terrific pasta lesson and enormous dinner at Cretaiole, use of the garden at Cretaiole, olive oil tasting, etc., etc.) but also the authentic lifestyle of living in a Tuscan village.

Isabella loaned us a cell phone while we were there, and she was always just a few digits away if we needed anything, or had a question. You absolutely cannot beat that! Her English skills are amazing, her knowledge of the area is incredible, and we felt so comfortable the entire time because we had her help whenever we needed it.

Before we left, we were able to see inside Il Cielo, the large two-bedroom house upstairs--and it is definitely where we will stay if we convince our friends to travel with us next year. But, for just the two of us, Il Nido is our private little "nest"--and really feels like home to us.

If I could think of a downside of staying here I would mention it...but, truly, I cannot think of one single reason not to stay here. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for the kind of experience I have described.
Don and Liz Yates - Houston, TX, USA
25 November 2008


[ Il Nido ]

My wife and I recently spent a week in Tuscany and stayed in a garden level apartment in the delightful village of Castelmuzio.

The house we stayed in had been converted into two rentals with the upper level being a large spacious apartment. The garden level apartment where we stayed called Il Nido had a good sized bathroom with shower, a fully equipped kitchen in which we could make our own meals when we chose.

Il Nido is perfect for a couple who like their privacy but is conveniently located in the village with a co-op (local food store) and a good restaurant where we enjoyed tasty local cooking, About half a mile down the road there was also an excellent inexpensively priced restaurant.

The apartments are run by the family owners of the Agriturismo Cretaiole which is just outside Pienza. Isabella does an outstanding job of providing information and arranging tours and activities for the guests at Cretaiole and Castelmuzio apartments.

It is through the contact with Isabella's family that Tuscany comes to life. The hill country of Tuscany offers a lot for the tourist but Isabella and Carlo make a stay with them a truly memorable experience and we have no hesitation in recommending a stay with the Moricciani family.
Jim Liddiard - California, USA
23 November 2008


[ Il Nido and Il Cielo ]

We recently returned from a four week stay at Le Casine in Castelmuzio (Castello), which is located near Pienza in southern Italy. My wife and I are of Italian descent and our goals were to live like Italians, among Italians and to enjoy the beauty and charm of Tuscany. In the most sincere and simplest terms, I can state that our expectations were exceeded far beyond the most optimistic presumptions.

We had planned this vacation for about a year and the planning was a daunting task. With the many beautiful Tuscan regions and literally thousands of options for accommodations, we knew what we wanted to do but were having difficulty in determining how to do it. Through the most serendipitous of circumstances a "friend of a friend" recommended that we contact Isabella Moricciani at Agriturismo Cretaiole in Pienza. We did so and this is inarguably the step that led to our success. Because we wanted to stay for four weeks, Isabella was having difficulty in accommodating us at Cretaiole due to prior reservations. Instead of being disappointed, I was impressed that Cretaiole was so fully booked.

I was even more impressed when Isabella contacted me a week later and suggested that she could accommodate us at Le Casine di Castello, another property that she had in the area. I did an online search, saw the pictures, read the description of the property and the surrounding area, and immediately reserved it for our stay. Le Casine is composed of two apartments, Il Cielo (The Sky) and Il Nido, (The Nest). Again, owing to prior bookings, we were to stay the first three weeks in Il Cielo and the last week in Il Nido. Any trepidation that we had because of having to move was more than balanced by the individual charm of the two properties. Il Cielo was larger and had a very nice rooftop sundeck while Il Nido was cosier, had a great kitchen and bath and a comfortable courtyard just off the kitchen. It would be difficult to say which one we preferred

Castelmuzio (or Castello to the local people) is a town of about 200-300 people located about 5 miles from Pienza and it was just what we wanted; a small Italian village, outgoing and friendly people, a market, some restaurants, safety and tranquility. A magnificently sounding church bell tolls the hour and half hour from 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM. It is conveniently located just minutes off the main roads to Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Siena, and Florence. During our stay we became acquainted with a number of the townspeople, with whom we were able to carry on reasonable conversations. We were on a nodding acquaintance basis with most everyone and we were the "due americani" that were regularly seen walking along the road to either Montisi or Petroio. We both enjoy cooking and one of my tasks was to buy fish from a traveling fishmonger who came every Wednesday morning to the village. His fish was always fresh and very tasty and I would be out there among the ladies of the village looking over the tempting array and trying to make the best selection.

This area of Tuscany is arguably the most beautiful landscape of the region. It is called the Val D'Orcia (valley of the Orcia River) and it is what you see when you see paintings or photos of the Tuscan countryside. Sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking. We were there in September, so that the harvest of wheat was completed, grapes were just about ready for picking, and the olive trees, while fruited abundantly, would not be ready until the end of the year. Nearby are many stunning hill towns and villages. Many are famous for a particular wine (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano) and we had more than our share of all of them! And the food! You literally could not find a disappointing meal. The fare was simple, nourishing, and delicious. One of our favorite activities was to walk to a nearby town, have coffee and a sweet roll and walk back "home" to Castello.

All of this describes the potential for a wonderful experience. There is one more element that is critical to truly enjoying Italy and that is having a host to advise you. We could not have had such a successful vacation without the counsel and guidance of Isabella. She is a bundle of energy, thoroughly knowledgeable and so well known and respected in the area. With her help, we saw many beautiful sites and experienced Italy to the fullest. Among the many activities she organized were trips to Florence and Siena, making (and eating!) the local pasta, "pici", a trip to a winery to sample Brunello complete with a magnificent meal in an ancient wine cellar and a tour of a working farm in Pienza, again, complete with a great meal. Just as importantly she helped us find places that were of particular interest to us and cautioned us on places to avoid. Never in our lives have four weeks seemed to pass so quickly.

We are already planning our next trip and it will most assuredly be with Isabella, Carlo, and Luciano.
Beverly and Regis Rocco - Powell, Ohio USA
5 October 2008


[ Il Nido and Il Cielo ]

My husband and I had the most wonderful experience staying in the tiny hamlet of Castelmuzio with the most wonderful views of the Val d'Orcia–and we cannot wait to stay again at Le Casine di Castello for so many, many reasons!

This was our fourth trip to the Val d'Orcia, and we wanted to experience Tuscan hilltop village living. Our last two trips staying at Agriturismo Cretaiole were heavenly, and it was so tempting to stay there again–but we took the chance to experience something new because Isabella Moricciani (the same smart and beautiful woman who runs Cretaiole!) owns and also manages Le Casine. We knew we would be in good hands–and would have all of the same benefits and activities that we would have had at Cretaiole–all of her assistance (in perfect English–her multi-lingual skills are utterly amazing!!!) –and frankly, we saw this as a no-risk, exciting new way to experience our favorite place on earth.

We stayed for two full weeks, first in Il Nido and then in Il Cielo when friends joined us for the second week.

Il Nido, which means "The Nest", is perfectly named! This lovingly prepared nest for two is located a flight of stairs below street level, but this isn't a basement because the house is on the side of a hill. In fact, French doors off of the kitchen led to our own private garden in the back of the house. Even in the summer, we found Il Nido to be cool and comfortable–without air conditioning! Enjoying our garden, using the grill and comfortable lawn furniture was like having another room in the apartment.

Inside the apartment is a cozy kitchen and dining area, a beautiful bedroom with four-poster bed, and very roomy bathroom and large shower. Isabella has thought of every necessity. We really enjoyed the breakfast basket full of goodies for our first morning after arrival. The cupboard was full of staples including plenty of coffee, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, teas, delicious liqueurs (including lemoncello–yum!!), and more. My husband really got a chuckle when he walked into the bathroom–he knew I would love it–because it is full of "girlie products"!!! Lotions, shampoos, powders–all for the use of guests while they stay there. (So, ladies, if you love your good-smelling products but don't want to schlep them with you to Italy, stay here and you will be in heaven!)

When our friends arrived the second week, we moved to the larger two-bedroom apartment upstairs, Il Cielo. Although it has just one bathroom it is enormous and the four of us found the accommodations extremely comfortable. The living room has a sofabed, which a larger group/family with some children could certainly make good use of. This apartment has its own laundry room (washing machine only) which was a godsend for us by the second week, and for the four of us. Isabella has provided drying racks for drying the clothes (apparently very few people use dryers in Italy, and these drying racks are the norm).

The four of us really enjoyed the private rooftop terrace overlooking the ancient medieval village. It was fun to wave and greet the people walking down the street! And of course, just relaxing up there with a good bottle of wine, cheese, fruit, and prosciutto–well, there was no need to go to any restaurant with that kind of atmosphere right at "home".

We enjoyed the free use of the mountain bikes (with helmets) to view the countryside. The location of Le Casine is terrific for early morning and evening walks. (If you are a very strong walker, you can go just a few km away and see the monastery where The English Patient was filmed, and tour the grounds and frescos inside by Sodoma.) Very little traffic, so much ambience!!!! One morning we went on a horseback ride on the Gladiator (ala Russell Crow!) trail, where the movie was filmed–just a few km away from Castelmuzio. The scenery was beautiful, and truly spectacular.

Staying in the village–where do I begin and how can I convey the experience!? It is very small, but the people of the village are out and about–and they greet you with smiles and cheery "Buongiornos!" When we made our attempts to communicate with our measly Italian (and frequent use of the dictionary), they were so ready to help us and to speak with us. Staying for two weeks really was great because we saw the same people every day–and this gave us such a feeling of "belonging" to this tiny gem of a village.

There is a Coop grocery store that takes maybe 2 minutes to reach on foot. It has everything you need to make simple (well, more than simple if you want!) Tuscan recipes–and more than adequate for basics such as milk, bread, fruit, veggies, cheese, meat, etc. There are two restaurants in the village with delicious food–one has simple Tuscan food, including pizza–the other is more sophisticated with outstanding items on the menu. This was a great combination of restaurants for our stay.

When our friends joined us, we participated in the activities provided by the Moricciani family at Cretaiole–the highlight was the pici (pasta) cooking class led by Isabella and then the "generous" Tuscan meal that followed. And all of this was included in our rental price! We also enjoyed the tour of the Romitorio on the family's property in Pienza, and our friends (who really love to cook) greatly appreciated the oil tasting lesson provided by Carlo and Isabella. (Again, no extra charge to do these things! Amazing.) Our friends went to the hot springs in Bagno Vignoni (with a coupon given to them by Isabella with a 40% discount)–and they said they really enjoyed it.

The location was perfect for the four of us because we wanted to go to Montalcino and Montepulciano for wine visits, hear the Gregorian chants at Sant'Antimo near Montalcino, see Pienza and the Renaissance buildings built by Pope Pius, and to make daytrips to Siena and Assisi. One day we went into Florence, driving to a little town south of Florence that Isabella told us about, parking the car for free, and taking the train into the heart of the city. It could not have been easier! We are already planning a return visit to this area, and will soon be contacting Isabella to make reservations for Il Nido. We miss "our" village, and cannot wait until we return!
Ruth Brown - New York
18 September 2008


[ Il Nido ]

Dear Isabella

Thank you for your kind good wishes which we return to you and your family.

We have been home for several weeks and I am very sorry not to have written before to thank you for your assistance and consideration with the car. We had a lovely trip to Florence with Ilario, he was great company and was quite the tour guide for us on the way to Florence.

We really enjoyed our brief stay in the village and the appartment was all we could wish for.

Kind regards
Libby Harlow
20 December 2007


[ Il Nido ]

I just stayed in a wonderful apartment in Castelmuzio. The property is called Le Casine di Castello, and is actually comprised of two apartments, a larger apartment upstairs called Il Cielo, and a smaller apartment downstairs called Il Nido. I stayed in the smaller of the two apartments, Il Nido. It is charmingly romantic and has absolutely everything that is needed for a wonderful stay. There is a beautiful bedroom and very well-equipped bathroom with shower. There is also a great kitchen with everything that one needs either for a quick snack or glass of wine in the garden, or to cook an entire meal.

The owners have given every attention to detail and provided absolutely everything from a bountiful breakfast basket to luxurious bath items. The owners are also very attentive and ready to help with anything, from a crisis (I locked myself out and they came at 10pm to get me into the apartment) to giving information on the area. I found the most charming thing about the apartment to be the attached private garden. The flower-filled garden is perfectly secluded and well-equipped with chairs for lounging and a table and chairs for dining outside.

Both apartments are located in the ancient village of Castelmuzio. Castelmuzio is a very charming village with all that one needs for their stay in Tuscany....grocery store (Co-op), quaint restaurants, and wonderful friendly people. It is in a great location...close to Pienza, Montepulciano, Petroio, Montisi and numerous other wonderful hilltowns.

If you want the perfect place from which to explore the Tuscan countryside and still want to have a very private vacation...this is the place for you. As a special note-on this trip I stayed alone at this location and always felt completely safe. This is a great apartment for either a couple or a person travelling alone.
Susan Truitt - Indian Harbor Beach, FL USA
23 July 2007


[ Il Nido ]

We cannot say enough about Il Nido at Le Casine di Castello in Castelmuzio - It is located five minutes from Pienza by car. It was recently restored a few years ago and comprises an open plan studio apartment with cozy kitchen, dining area, four-poster bed and a bathroom with large shower. The back door led us to a small private garden with seating, eating table and grille.

Note: A car is needed to visit the beautiful surroundings, the nearby charming towns and villages and to get a real taste of the Tuscan country-side.

We were allowed to purchase the farm products (pecorino cheese, fresh eggs, raw ham, grappa, Vin Santo...) and to get all the same personal assistance that they give to their guests of Agriturismo Cretaiole.

Our hostess, Isabella, was quite fluent in English and can tell you anything you want to know regarding local information! She helped us to experience Tuscany as the locals see it. Included in the apartment was a guidebook written by Isabella (in English) offering information on restaurants, museums, suggested itineraries, and other information you most likely won't find anywhere else.

As a guest of their place, they offered:
- a three-hour guided tour of Siena with a local professional guide who grew up in Siena
- Isabella's husband, Carlos, is a professional olive oil taster for Italy. Both Isabella and Carlos gave us an olive oil tasting evening never to be forgotten!
- and my personal favorite was the "pici" (pasta) cooking class followed by a tasting with the fabulous meat ragù of Liliana, Isabella's mother-in-law, in a traditional Tuscan family dinner!

The family owns a Hermitage that was originally an Etruscan tomb, and later used as a hermitage by monks in the Middle Ages. So much history at our fingertips!

Our days/nights consisted of having dinner with a local chef, touring an organic farm that is self sustaining, followed by a homemade organic lunch - the most amazing meal we have EVER had!

The scenery was so amazing - you can sit on a lounge chair at Cretaiole and look out at Val d'Orcia all day long if you just need to relax.

We cannot say enough about our stay here. We are planning our next visit when we can bring our children back in the very near future! Isabella was wonderful and helpful and her family is so caring and friendly. It was a trip we will never forget and one I cannot stop bragging about!
Lisa Puffer - Massachusetts, USA
15 July 2007


[ Il Nido ]

Several months ago, we contacted Isabella about staying at Cretaiole and she told us that they were basically full, except for a 3 bedroom that was more than we wanted to spend. She then told us about another property that her family owns, Il Nido di Castello, just outside of the very small, very wonderful town of Castelmuzio (about 10 minutes from Cretaiole and Pienza).

Cretaiole is a wonderful place, we spent lots of time there, and Isabella and the family and other guests made us feel very welcome. All the good things you've read here are true! The thing that I really liked about Il Nido though, is that it's much more private and quiet than Cretaiole. There are 2 apartments that Isabella rents, the downstairs studio which was perfect for the 2 of us, and an upstairs apt. with 2 bedrooms and a rooftop terrace.

Also, the town of Castelmuzio was absolutely delightful. It's a tiny little town with a restaurant/hotel/bar, a Tabacchi, and an olive oil office. That's it, aside from the residents. There's also a co-op (grocery store) just outside of the town.

Il Nido is definitely something that I would recommend to anyone looking for a peaceful Tuscan experience. Of course, the Cretaiole activities and experiences made this an amazing trip.
Jeff Spring - Seattle, WA USA
25 October 2006


[ Il Cielo ]

What an amazing and warm person--Isabella! She knows how to conduct business in a professional manner, but still makes everyone feel at home and like a special friend, not just a paying customer! Our accommodation was excellent and the location proved to be the ideal base for exploring the towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano as well as all the small villages close by. We stayed 6 days in Castelmuzio. We felt like proper Italians in our own little village where the church bell still announces every hour. I recommend this wonderful place to stay to everyone who wishes to experience true Tuscan hospitality!
Tersia from South Africa
4 September 2006


[ Il Nido ]

Thank you for connecting us with your delightful apartment in Castelmuzio on our recent trip. We had a perfect, lovely, beautiful vacation and couldn't have been more pleased. Morris got our vacation off to a great start when he picked us up at the Florence airport and gave us a great little tour of the area on our way to Castelmuzio.

Isabella, you and Carlo were so warm and gracious, we really enjoyed talking with you and visiting Cretaiole and the romitorio outside Pienza.

Warmest regards,
Juline Koken and Daniel Garcia - USA


[ Il Cielo ]

Just a quick note to say that we had such a good holiday in your very lovely villa in Castelmuzio. The views were really gorgeous, and the villa itself is lovely, well furnished and decorated. We appreciated all the trouble that you took to make our stay enjoyable. We will recommend it highly to all our friends and anyone we know travelling to Tuscany.

Kind regards
Eileen & Dave Thayser - USA


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