Agriturismo (ag’ – rē – tü – rē’ smō) / noun / Italian / any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm.
Here at DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., authentic travel experiences are paramount to what we do and everything we represent on our bicycle tours. We strive to offer guests behind-the-scene, small-group access to exclusive wineries, restaurants and boutique hotels that provide intimate opportunities to interact with the locals and take part in the fabric of real life.
The Agriturismo is a prime example of just one way that guests can seek an authentic travel experience that will allow them to interact with the local culture on a deeper level and in a more memorable way.
But wait—what is an Agriturismo, anyway? We asked Peter and Margot of MyItalySelection.com, a guide to Italian Agriturismi (the plural form of Agriturismo), to share with us the inside scoop on the world of Agritourism and why every traveler should visit one on their next holiday.
What is an Agriturismo?
The word Agriturismo is a combination of the Italian words agricoltura (agriculture) and turismo (tourism). An Agriturismo is effectively a farm designed to also receive guests, whether for food (lunch and dinner), holiday accommodation, or a combination of the two. Some Agriturismi may also offer self-catering apartments without breakfast, lunch or dinner offered. The term refers to farms in Italy only, although other countries and languages have created their own word for a similar concept.
What are the origins of the Agriturismo?
The farms of Italy are very different than the farms Americans are used to seeing, with hundreds of acres of crops or cattle designed for making a profit. Traditionally, an Italian farm was a place where a farmer grew everything he needed to live and perhaps a little extra to sell at the market for some extra spending money. In Italy, an old farm may contain no more than 25 acres. In the U.S, you may never consider that little plot of land as a feasible means of income or sustainability for a farmer.
As these tiny Italian farms proceeded into modern times, they couldn’t make ends meet. In the 1950s and 60s, farming in Italy became much less profitable. Large farmhouses built for multiple families now housed just one family. Many farmers were forced to abandon their homes and move to the city to look for sustainable work.
Generations of Italians became concerned that the farming culture was disappearing. In 1985, the Italian government officially recognized the concept of the “Agriturismo.” The idea of Agriturismo was to support small farmers that were, and still are, struggling to keep up. The agricultural activities today do not generate as much income as in previous generations, so by adding a tourism component, these farms can maintain operational. As such, they preserve the landscape, farmhouses and local communities, and in this way Agriturismo is a very sustainable form of tourism.
What qualifications are required to become an Agriturismo?
First, an Agriturismo has to be a working farm in some way. It can be a more traditional farm that produces things like wine, olive oil, meats, or cereals, but some Agriturismi produce things like vegetables or herbs on a much smaller scale.
Second, the products that are produced must be used in the preparation of food for the guests. The fruit must be used for making homemade marmalade at breakfast or the olive oil for typical local dishes served at dinner. Most Agriturismi also sell their produce directly to guests. The more income a farm generates from agricultural activities, the more tourism activities they are allowed to provide (i.e. the more rooms they can offer to guests).
What are the benefits of becoming an Agriturismo?
The Agriturismo law offered former farmers who had moved to the city a chance to go back to their roots and to apply for government grants to restructure their family homes into guest houses or restaurants. But to be clear, this government grant is not free. Most farmers must invest a large sum of their own money to receive the grant and tax benefits that an Agriturismo designation brings with it.
Agriturismi can also sell their goods for low prices and sell products directly to guests. For example, at an Agriturismo with restaurant, the famer can sell his wine at 8-10 Euros. The guests get a great price, and the farmer also makes enough profit to earn a living.
Stay at Agriturismo Rini on DuVine’s Giro d’Italia Bike Tour
How do Agriturismi compare to hotels?
Of the approximately 17,000 Agriturismi in Italy today, nearly all of them are family-run, and the owners also dedicate their time to agricultural activities. The farmhouse concept may lead potential visitors to believe that an Agriturismo offers rustic accommodations, but many Agriturismi offer luxurious lodging.
However, guests should not confuse an Agriturismo, luxury or not, with a luxury hotel. The number of rooms is limited (usually fewer than ten), which does not allow for things like a concierge, 24-hour reception, room service, late dinner, etc. However, you can expect great Italian hospitality and a very warm welcome!
Agriturismi on Your DuVine Bicycle Tours
According to DuVine Italian guide Tom Coppock, visiting at an Agriturismo is the best way to experience life the old way. “You’re getting what the farm wife is making for dinner—local stuff that restaurants don’t even have, like deep-fried sage leaves with honey on top.” Travel with DuVine on an Italy cycling tour and experience some of our favorite Agriturismi in any region.
- The densest population of Agriturismi is in Tuscany, and San Gimignano, where guests will visit on the DuVine Super Tuscan Bike Tour, has one of highest number in Tuscany.
- Stay in at Agriturismo Rini on our Giro d’Italia Bike Tour.
- If you travel to Piedmont with DuVine, you will visit our guide Guido’s own Agriturismo for dinner with his family amidst their vines.
- On our Sicily cycling tour visit our friend Nella’s farmhouse tucked away in the olive groves and orchards of Castelluccio.
- Your welcome lunch in Umbria will find you at the family farmhouse of Fatima and Feliciano, and your gourmet picnic on the last day is at La Montagnola in a sea of olive trees.
- In Puglia, visit our friends Laura and Filippo at their beautiful organic farm for a cooking class and enjoy lunch at their kitchen table.
- Or book a Private Cycling Tour anywhere in Italy, and we’re happy to accommodate your requests by adding as many Agriturismi to the itinerary as we can find!
Finding the Perfect Agriturismo for You
The only downside to Agriturismi is that most of them do not spend much money, if any, on advertising. Many do not even have websites, and so the average tourist doesn’t really know how to find them. We recommend either booking a DuVine cycling tour to visit some of our favorites, or connecting with our friends at My Italy Selection. Margot and Peter can help you find the perfect Agriturismo for you—whether you seek a luxury suite on the vineyard for a weekend in Tuscany, a fully equipped apartment nestled in the olive trees of Puglia for a week of tranquil bliss, or a family-friendly farmhouse with a pool for the kids, Margot and Peter are sure to find you the ideal Agriturismo for your next Italian vacation.
Visit Guido and his family at their Agriturismo on our Piedmont Bike Tour
Why visit an Agriturismo?
There are many reasons to visit an Agriturismo on your next vacation. Here are Margot and Peter’s top four:
1 / Living like a Local
When you visit an Agriturismo, you have a chance to meet the locals and see and experience farm life up close. Often guests can take part in shared dinners and tastings, and you can really live the experience by adding a cooking class or truffle hunting or going horseback riding.
2 / Location, Location, Location
When you choose an Agriturismo for your accommodation, you are also situated in the countryside where you can enjoy great views, silence, and starry skies at night.
3 / A Good Value
Agriturismi are a very good value for the money. They are traditionally much less expensive than staying in a hotel (usually 30-70 Euros per night), and although they don’t offer quite the same service as a hotel may be able to provide, you are sure to experience an authentic stay.
4 / A Value in Doing Good
When you visit an Agriturismo, you can pat yourself on the back. Why? Because you are giving something back. Your visit allows the farmers to preserve the landscape, farmhouse, and the local community.
Contact us to start planning your next Italian cycling tour, including a visit to one of our favorite Agriturismi, or visit MyItalySelection.com for recommendations before or after your DuVine tour!
My Italy Selection was created by husband-and-wife duo Margot and Peter DeKruif 12 years ago out of their own personal interest.
We were living in Milan, and when we wanted to escape the city, we would book a weekend trip to an Agriturismo. We found it a great way to explore the country, meet the locals, learn the language, and taste different regional specialties. Since friends started asking us for tips about Agriturismi, my wife came up with the idea of creating a personal selection and guide online. –Peter DeKruif
Of the nearly 17,000 Agriturismi in existence today, Margot has chosen 135 of her favorite. She selects the Agriturismi based on one main question: “Would I want to spend my holiday here?” She looks for Agriturismi with friendly and welcoming owners that are authentic and offer a certain level of comfort, a beautiful location, and a pool. Guests can book an Agriturismo through the site or contact Margot for personalized advice. “Since I have personally visited all Agriturismi on our website, I am able to give tailor-made advice,” says Margot. “It’s my ultimate goal to find the right Agriturismo for each customer.”