Travelers in Italy have lots of easily identifiable accommodation options, but one Italian term doesn’t quite translate in a way that truly explains the type of lodging—agriturismo. Sure, it looks like “agriculture” and “tourism,” and it is. Kind of. But it’s not quite that simple.
The English equivalent often used for the Italian agriturismo is “farm stay,” which is close but not quite right. There are certain legal requirements for agriturismo properties in Italy, but there are also lots of variations within the category.
What is Agriturismo?
Legislation officially creating the agriturismo passed in Italy in the 1980s as part of an effort to keep smaller farms from going under. The requirements include that the property must still be a working farm and food items served to guests must include something produced on the property. Beyond that, however, almost anything goes.
Lodging at an agriturismo might be a bedroom in the main house, a room in another building that’s been converted into guest quarters, or a modern structure built solely for guests. Rooms may or may not have en suite bathrooms. Some are luxurious retreats while others are more rustic. Since they’re working farms, these lodgings can be challenging to get to if you don’t have your own car. You may get lucky with a nearby bus stop, but chances are you’ll be better off with a rental car.
Breakfast is nearly always provided and is often impressive when homemade jam, freshly pressed olive oil, and cheese made steps away are all available. Lunches and dinners are sometimes available for an extra fee.
The amenities available vary considerably, too. You might find activities like horseback riding, farm tours, and cooking classes. Some spots will let you help with the harvest if you’d like. There might be a swimming pool, or a small garden from which you can pick a few snacks. You may find an Italian mamma who’ll teach you how to make pasta or a resident winemaker who’ll lead you through a tasting.
Some of Italy's Best Farm Stays
Val di Boccio, Umbria
This 170-acre farm near Umbria’s capital city, Perugia, makes olive oil on site and is home to a menagerie of farm animals (including donkeys, chickens, pigs, sheep, ponies, and cows) grazing and meandering throughout the grounds. Seven guest rooms and two larger apartments, a swimming pool, and a restaurant that serves dishes made with produce and meats from the farm at breakfast (included) and dinner (additional fee) invite guests to feel at home.
The little Puglia town of Alberobello is famous for its trulli—whitewashed homes with gray, conical roofs. Drive about five minutes from the picturesque town to find Laire, a farm with trulli agriturismo lodgings that give visitors a glimpse of a traditional Pugliese home. The farm produces wine and olive oil—Puglia makes more olive oil than any other Italian region—and guests can also enjoy fresh produce, homemade jam, and meat from animals raised right on the property.
The coastal region of Tuscany known as Maremma is popular with Italians and less well-known among visitors. The Fontenuova agriturismo is in Saturnia, which has been a draw since the Etruscan era thanks to its natural hot springs. Lodging is available in a farmhouse that’s been split into different rooms, or—for those who want to do their own cooking—in a few buildings with a big kitchen for shared use. There are two swimming pools, and horses for guests to ride—plus riding lessons for children and adults.
La Campana, Marche
Not all agriturismo properties focus solely on food products. La Campana near Piceno in the Marche region has been growing plants to make natural dyes and pigments—primarily indigo from the woad plant, and guests can take a dyeing class from the resident expert dyer. The farm prides itself on its eco-friendly farming practices and building technology, too, including solar energy and composting. There are 10 rooms, and guests get to taste the edible fruits of the farm—including bread, pasta, and pastries made with La Campana’s wheat.