People are “flocking” to the countryside of Tuscany and Umbria (pun intended) to experience the typical Italian lifestyle, and also to escape the tourists. And instead of choosing traditional hotel accommodations, which are sparse in this part of the country, they’re opting to stay at an agriturismo, accommodations on a working farm. The agriturismo program was codified by the government in 1985 as a way to increase agricultural tourism for the countryside farms in Italy. Land owners were subsidized to build apartments and villas on their properties to house guests who wanted a more authentic Italian experience.
4 Reasons to Visit an Agriturismo in Italy
1. It’s like being at an all-inclusive resort – Most agriturismi let guests choose what meals they want prepared on the farm and in some cases, you’ll be eating dinner with the farmers themselves. When I first moved to Italy and being the adventurer I am, I quickly booked a one-week stay at Agriturismo Belagaggio in Montefollonico. I didn’t really know what to expect but wanted to firmly plant my Italian roots (another pun intended). Accommodations are not necessarily farmhouse rustic, but more farmhouse modern, accompanied by plenty of amenities including pools, fire pits, barbecues, walking trails, horseback riding and much more. It’s kind of the all-inclusive resort version of Italian vacationing.
2. Meet people from all over the world to experience new cultures – We would spend our days visiting wineries along the Chianti Trail and exploring Tuscan hillside towns, then retreat to the farm’s pool every afternoon with an assortment of wines, cheeses and cured meats we’d picked up in our travels. The farm housed eight different families so the best part of the day was gathering around the pool to share stories of the day’s adventures and discoveries.sitting poolside when I suddenly realized that my mother and I were the only ones wearing bathing suit tops. It wasn’t until I looked over and saw my 9-year-old son sitting on a lounge chair and chatting with a newfound friend’s mother – her sitting up topless, while my son sat less than 10 inches from her breasts, completely unmoved by the incident – that I realized just how different our cultures are.
3. Taste authentic and ultra-fresh foods – Being a foodie, I would often stand in the cucina and watch our hostess, Antonella, prepare the evening meal. From chopping unfamiliar vegetables to plucking the chickens, I was eager to learn everything I could about this way of life. I would follow her down to the cellar where prosciutto hung from the ceiling while curing. My children enjoyed exploring the wide open fields and on occasion, watched as Antonella or Nonna would choose one of the chickens who would be our dinner “guest” that evening. I’m not sure they realized the cute bunnies were also on the menu.
4. Enjoy free entertainment – On our final evening, the family hosted a dinner for all of the guests which included an extravagant, multi-course meal with copious amounts of wine, followed by live entertainment from Nonno’s accordion. Sure, we could have been standing in a group, listening to a tour guide (holding an umbrella) talk about the history of different tourist attractions, but this gave us an experience and opportunity to experience authentic Italy life.