Agriturismo in Italy

Agriturismo Vacations
A Guest Post by Douglas E Morris, author of Open Road’s Best of Italy

Though they have been a part of many aficionado’s Italian travel experience for over a decade now, for many people the concept of an agriturismo vacation is still a mystery. If you want an authentic introduction to rural Italian life, featuring locally grown and prepared food and serene, scenic surroundings, read on.

Agriturismo is a combination of the words for “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian, and is basically a creative take on farm stays, Italian style. Agriturismi (the plural form of agriturismo) are set on farms, vineyards, and other rural settings, and you will almost always get delicious local Italian meals prepared from food produced on the farm where you are staying or nearby.

The agriturismo program began because beginning in the1950s, small-scale farming in Italy became less profitable, and farmers began abandoning their land in search of work in larger towns. This was not only devastating to agricultural output in Italy, but began to have a dramatically negative impact on the small town economies that were dependent on local farming. Rural Italy was experiencing a serious crisis.

Not just an economic crisis, but also a crisis of identity, a crisis for the survival of what Italians perceive as the purity of their rural traditions. Italians almost universally treasure the local customs associated with rural life; so with the decline of small-scale agriculture, the Italian government knew something needed to be done. Not just to preserve the beauty, charm and quality of life in the countryside, but to help preserve the very soul of the country.

So using their collective creativity, something Italians are universally known for, in 1985 a law was passed that allowed farmers and rural estate owners to receive tax breaks if they converted buildings on their property to vacation rentals. In conjunction with the lucrative tax breaks, the agriturismo law most importantly allowed small farmers to dramatically augment their agricultural income.

With this one law, rural Italy was saved. In fact, the program was such a success, that similar programs have been implemented in France, the United States, Belgium and many other countries around the world.

Despite the rural nature of the lodgings, one might expect agriturismi to be rustic; yet many feature luxurious accommodations including swimming pools, saunas, and the like. In general, what you will receive is the equivalent of 3-star accommodation for about one-third the price you would pay in a large Italian city. The rooms are generally commodious, the food exceptional, the vistas inspiring, and the pace of life incredibly relaxing. In other words, the perfect place for a vacation.

In many cases two meals a day are served for residents — breakfast and dinner — but lunch of local cheese, breads, meats, fruits, pasta, vegetables, wine and more can easily be added to the menu. For many cognoscenti, staying at agriturismi is all about the food and the wine. Fresh local seasonal produce, with home-made pasta, all prepared in the local traditional way and served with unique local vintages bursting with flavor. Many agriturismi also offer guests cooking classes, horseback riding, guided tours of the area, or wine tastings. Of course, if you’re on vacation to relax, you can also choose none of the above and just chill out on the terrace or by the pool with a good book.

However, if you’re staying at an agriturismo, renting a car will be necessary. Though it’s not impossible to have the agriturismo experience without a rental car, if you want the freedom to explore the surrounding area, you will need motorized transport. But if that is the only drawback to staying at an agriturismo, that should not be much of a hindrance.

So if you are looking for something new and different for your next trip to Italy, think of staying at an agriturismo. Two excellent websites that list a plethora of places to try are and

4 thoughts on “Agriturismo in Italy

  1. Quite a few people rent out their homes in Europe as viaotcan rentals. They advertise on various websites, have their own website for their property, or use RE agents. How well they do on their rentals depends on how effectively they can advertise the rental and of course location, location, location.

  2. for a double room (we paid notnihg for the extra bed), the Casolare di Remignoli is affordable and family-friendly. Continental breakfast is served outside on a pretty covered patio during summer: delicious Tuscan

  3. I’m amazed at my non-Italian frnieds who feast on lasagna, ravioli and other heavy Italian dishes often, these are foods my family in the States and Italy eat only during a holiday (other than potato gnocchi or polenta (or risotto) which in the north are alternatives to pasta and always eaten in much smaller quantities than in the States). Portions are much smaller in Italy hence not presenting a weight problem. I’ve found that the daily Italian table is very Spartan, the usual presentation being a light soup (three or four pieces of pasta included), a light salad, a lightly sauced pasta (small quantity), roasted chicken or pan-fried minute steaks served with lemon slices, bread, wine In Sicily fish many times takes the place of poultry, pork, lamb or beef. Let’s not forget though that during the holidays multi course meals will go on for three or more hours and a little bit of over eating is appreciated. Some of the best food in Italy is to be found not in the big cities but in very small towns or villages where small eateries must present tastes like home cooking and DO, if not the establishments would close down. In a small town’s restaurant one is eating Mamma’s food, not a chef’s. Also in the small towns one experiences the true local cucina at reasonable prices along with a chance to socialize with wonderful people. Hint: Sometimes in villages there is no sign announcing the presence of a restaurant, in that the establishment is meant for locals there’s no need to put up a sign being all know where to find it, many times restaurants are in a room off the local bar. Remember that a bar in Italy isn’t as the American ones, they should be called pubs being they cater to families . Now if someone would answer me as to how Sicilian women who are mostly ever-so-thin can eat on a daily bases those huge Sicilian pastries for breakfast without weight problems? Thank you Letizia for the article!P.S. I’ve found that my younger cousins in the north of Italy will sometimes use packaged convenience foods but yet are still experts in the traditional kitchen and as good at the stove as their mothers and grandmothers.

  4. I was in Italy and Sicily this past July and I absolutely loved the food, all of it. Even thgouh we were fed three courses at each meal we did not eat as much as do at home. I think the fact that all the food is so fresh and tasty is just amazing. I find myself looking forward to each course. The pasta dishes were like I never had before and the meat dishes were just enough food to enjoy without being full and of course I always looked forward to the dolci after each meal like the cannolis (best I ever had) and the light sponge cakes the gelato everyday,etc. I also learned to drink the red wine (my favorite) without ice cubes and thgouht it was amazing. The best part was that after being there for 2 weeks, I only gained one pound. Of course the daily walking and climbing stairs may have helped. I have yet to vacation in the Tuscon area but look forward to that someday. All in all, I absolutely fell in love with the country. Even bought myself a Sicilian cook book when I got home. The rice balls are my favorites and to think I never had them before coming to Italy and Sicily. My Father, his parents and my maternal grandparents were all born in Termini Imerese, Sicily

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