If you're planning a trip to Italy you most likely will come across the word agriturismo — it's a combination of "agriculture" and "tourism" in Italian. Agritourism in Italy means vacationing in cute Italian villages and staying in farm house resorts. So what does an Italian village look like? It's a leisurely life amid vineyards and cypress candles, fields of sunflowers and roads winding around ancient fortresses, and, of course, lots of fresh food grown and produced right on spot. The Italian village is the place where you will begin to understand the Italian language and get to know Italy better - no museums will give you this experience.
Italy has a wonderful agritourism system, a network of approved farm properties where tourists can stay and enjoy the rural life. Many agritourism vacations are quite luxurious. It’s an excellent introduction to the real Italy, with its delightfully open-hearted people and history-rooted traditions of hospitality – and it’s also relatively affordable at a time when more mainstream holidays in Europe are becoming more expensive.
You may find yourself living in a medieval village, on an archaeological site, dairy farm or vineyard, or in a castle or a charming hamlet. In Italy, many farms are generally suitable for the whole family, and many have farm animals with which children can interact. Others are more romantic and perfect for a couples' getaway. The variety is beyond imagination.
Italian agriturism houses will usually serve guests food that was prepared from raw materials produced on the farm or from other local merchants. Some will allow the guests to participate in the activities surrounding the farm, such as picking the vegetables or milking the cows.
Despite the rural nature of the lodging, one might expect a rustic experience; though a great many agriturism resourts are high-end and feature amenities like swimming pools. Generally speaking, accommodations can run the gamut from simple rooms with rustic furnishings and shared bathrooms to ultra-deluxe suites or apartments with whirlpool bathtubs and other high-end perks.
Agritourism is so popular that there are even subcategories of agriturismo accommodation. For those seeking an environmentally-friendly holiday, many farms offer ecotourism alternatives with total immersion in nature. Tourists seeking a little pampering may opt for a wellness agritourism experience at a farm that offers spa services and treatments.
Prefer to stay active on your vacation? You can choose an agritourism accommodation that includes horseback riding, climbing, swimming, and other sports and activities. And if you're all about the food (and who doesn't want to sample as much authentic Italian food as possible!), choose a culinary-centric agriturismo with food tastings and tours themed around the cuisine of the area you're visiting.
If you are considering a farm stay, just decide what kind of experience you want. An idyllic retreat in the countryside, or a hands-on experience of Italian farm life? You'll find agriturismo listings — they'll sometimes refer to themselves in English as country houses or holiday houses—on most major accommodation booking sites.
Wherever you search, be sure to read reviews, study photos and make sure the agriturismo meets your needs. Whatever agritourism vacation or place you choose, you're sure to experience an authentic slice of Italian culture and rural life that you won't find in a hotel!