Agriturismi have been Italy’s most well-kept accommodation secret for a long time. So far. Even Travel + Leisure, a well-off company, recently joined the fray by naming italy’s “best affordable places” and listing seven of its best.
What exactly is an agriturismo, you ask? It’s a “farm stay.” But, it’s much more. We think it’s the best way to see Italy’s countryside. Let’s find out why, plus three myths and one of the most important truths about Italy’s farm stays.
Agriturismos are farms that have been owned by the owners and used for accommodation purposes. This means that 90 percent of the “hotels” you will find are farmers. Or people who have someone else take care of their farm. Your room is located in the farm’s home or an adjacent annex.
It’s not surprising that the whole thing feels informal. There is rarely a reception or other guests, you are woken by roosters and you can call just a few days ahead to still be accommodated.
There are many room types, including large, self-built apartments and smaller, more basic rooms within larger houses. We have yet to experience a room that was too dirty or too costly in our vast agriturismi experiences.
The best thing about staying in an agriturismo is the food. The food. The farm-stays offer a full meal and breakfast for 30 to 50 euro per person. This includes the fresh produce, eggs, meat and wine. You may even get to eat the chickens that woke your up in the morning. Agriturismo is often the best place to eat in Italy, as it’s not where you’ll find many of Italy’s most delicious food traditions.
We also love the fact that agriturismi can be found in Italy’s beautiful countryside and are really all around. Don’t believe us. Google maps will take you to Italy. Type in “agriturismo”. You can see the rolling vineyards of Tuscany or Le Marche’s rocky hills from Le Marche. There’s an agriturismo that’ll let you get up and roll out of bed. You might also find animals, flowers and complete solitude.
It’s important to understand the people of Italy. What better way to make friends than staying on someone’s farm?
Agriturismi are our favorite! We can’t think of a better value for money when it comes to accommodation. You could spend 100 to stay in Tuscany and enjoy a standard hotel room with dinner for two in Florence instead of spending 225.
Agriturismi are still popular myths despite their greatness. These are three myths about agriturismi — and one truth few people realize.
Myth #1 – You must stay at least one week in order to enjoy an agriturismo.
Nope! No. To make arrangements, call the farm at least two days in advance.
Myth #2 – Staying on a farm with your family is not a good idea if you are going on a romantic vacation and need privacy.
We disagree. We have found that the owners of most farm-stays where we have stayed were extremely friendly and accommodating. They are also very non-intrusive. We have never seen the concept of everyone sitting down and having dinner together at the same time, but that is something we only experienced once in Italy, when it was a German-French couple who ran the farm-stay. Privacy is possible at an agriturismo in rural Italy as well as in 5-star hotels where you share a room with 60 guests and must place a “Do Not disturb” sign at the door to prevent strangers from entering your rooms.
Myth #3 – A farm-stay is not the right choice if you are looking for luxurious amenities.
Generally, yes. If you are a person who depends on a concierge and complete room cleaning every single day, as well as other amenities (impeccable, constant air-conditioning, television, shower and bathtub), then you might not like the average agriturismo or one that you haven’t thoroughly researched.
A new type of agriturismo is emerging in Italy: luxury farm-stays. We are referring to Il Fontanaro which is one of our favourite retreats in Italy. It’s an organic Umbrian farm where guests can relax. However, the cottages have Wi-Fi, satellite TV, king-sized beds and modern bathrooms.
We also doubt that you will feel anywhere but the best when you are sipping a glass of wine while watching the sun set over the hills of Tuscany.
One truth that is often overlooked:
It can be difficult to get to Agriturismi. They are not easily accessible by bus or train because they are in rural areas. While some agriturismi owners may pick you up at a station, if it isn’t nearby, you will be stranded there for as long as you stay. Maybe that’s not so bad …).
Even if you have a car, Agriturismi can be quite. Difficult. It is difficult to find. To find. We had an iPad with Google Maps, multiple mobile phones, fluent Italian and six years of driving experience in Italy’s rural countryside. Yet, we still lost countless times.
The roads can also be interesting. We have had a range of agriturismi adventures. From driving through the forest at night on a dirt road, which looked legit, to driving down switchbacks along a gravel road, that was so sharp that we had to make each turn as a three-point turn.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s possible to lose yourself halfway through the adventure. If you have a tight schedule and need to be on the go, or if getting lost on dirt roads in one direction is a stressful experience, then you should be aware. Despite that, it’s worth the effort. It was a trip we never regretted. The journey was fascinating, but the end result was more than worthwhile.