Farm holidays in Italy: why an agriturismo is perfect for families
An “agriturismo” is an Italian farm which offers accommodation to guests. I have taken several farm holidays in Italy over the last twenty or so years and I’ve discovered that prices, standards and facilities can vary hugely so it pays to do a bit of research. So, why stay on an agriturismo in Italy? Read on if you’d like to be persuaded that an Italy farm stay is the next holiday for you (but please don’t be put off by the next few sentences…)
Some agriturismos are rustic in the truest sense of the term with mosquito infested rooms, leaky showers and incessantly barking farm dogs while others may offer quite a luxurious experience. The best ones, I think, fall somewhere in between the two. I’ve enjoyed amazing hospitality, fantastic food and stunning scenery at plenty of farm stays over the years. In case you’re not familiar with this type of holiday, I’ve listed the main reasons to stay at an agriturismo in Italy for a family holiday. Also, I’m concentrating on the traditional sort of agrturismo, not the luxury end of the market.
Farm holidays in Italy = plenty of space
If you’re travelling with children, young or old, it’s important to have plenty of space. At an agriturismo in Italy, there’s plenty of space for young children to run around and burn off some energy, older kids will enjoy exploring, while teens can enjoy some independence by borrowing a bike and escaping to a nearby village.
Farm holidays in Italy are good value
Prices range depending on quality and the time of year. We paid 120 Euros per night at an agritusimo in Sicily including breakfast for a one bedroom apartment at Nacalino Agriturismo and the same price for a quad room at Baglio Pollicarini. This summer, we’re meeting friends in Rome and I’m looking at some farms near Tivoli. I’m being quoted 85-140 Euros for a family room or apartment in high season.
Of course, if you’re after a more luxurious experience, there are plenty of (pricey) places offering a farm-lite experience. Hotels are popping up all over the place in Italy with the word “masseria” (meaning fortified farmhouse) in their title, particularly in Puglia where this type of farm originates. You’ll have luxurious bed linens and gourmet food but your farm experience might be limited to passing a photogenic gnarled olive tree on your way to dinner.
Food on an agriturismo in Italy
Cuisine was my main reason for staying at agriturismos pre-kids. From sipping amazing Montepulciano Vino Nobile with steak at a farm stay in Tuscany to an epic banquet at an agriturismo in Piedmont prepared solely for my husband and I, some of my most enjoyable gastronomic experiences have been at an agriturismo in Italy.
However, if your kids are anything like ours and they just want pasta with pesto, your gracious hosts will more than likely rustle that up too. And of course, the breakfasts are superb: think freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade cakes and biscuits, fresh bread with local jams and honey. We were even asked to sample some tiramisu for breakfast at a farm stay in Sicily.
In summer time, you generally eat outside at agriturismos so once your children have wolfed down their pasta they can go and play while you enjoy a five course meal at your leisure.
Facilities at an agriturismo
Some agriturismos are very simple affairs with just a few guest rooms in a converted barn. However, you can find a whole host of facilities at some properties including self catering facilities, full board meals (Italians love this), swimming pools, playgrounds, farm museums, bike hire, cooking lessons, spa treatments, horse riding, Wi-Fi (that’s the teens sorted) and so on.
Making friends on a farm holiday in Italy
An agriturismo is a great place to meet other children, particularly in the summer months. Even without having a common language, children have an amazing ability to befriend one another and find common ground.
More than 2.4 children? No problem…
Many agriturismos in Italy offer apartments or cottages with one or more bedrooms making them a great value alternative to traditional hotel accommodation. Italians are very creative with space and always manage to cram lots of sofa beds into their holiday accommodation. And if you don’t want to cook for your brood, plenty of farms offer self catering accommodation and a restaurant so you have the best of both worlds.
Italy is an agricultural nation, there are farms everywhere: near the seaside, in the mountains and close to cities. Don’t assume that you can’t use a farm as a base for a beach holiday, there are agriturismos aplenty near the Tuscan coast as well as in Le Marche and Puglia. Given the undulating nature of Italy’s landscape, you’ll often get a stunning view from your bedroom window.
For our trip to Rome this summer, I can’t face being in a city centre hotel when it’s so hot and I don’t want to fork out for an expensive city hotel with a pool. So I’m planning to book a farm stay close to a train station so that we can commute into Rome and then escape at the end of the day to a rural idyll with a swimming pool and a great restaurant!
Some of my favourite agriturismos
Palazzo Gastaldo, near Gubbio, Umbria
As agriturismos go, this has to be one of the best I’ve visited. Hidden away on top of a hill, reached via what seems like a never-ending track, this property is worth the drive. Palazzo Gastaldo features a collection of very old, rustic apartments with beautiful traditional furniture, I know my kids would love La Torre: a series of rooms reached via a very steep staircase with a little terrace at the very top (not recommended for those who need the loo in the middle of the night or indeed for anyone interested in health and safety!). Staying here is a bit like staying in a history book. There’s a swimming pool and a restaurant, great views and gardens that children will love exploring.
Agriturismo Sant’Illuminato, near Citta di Castello, Umbria
This is a great option in Umbria for families. It’s located near Citta di Castello within day trip distance of Perugia, Assisi and Lake Trasimeno. Sant’Illuminato features a collection of apartments surrounded by huge amounts of green space for children to burn off energy. There’s a swimming pool and small play area as well as a restaurant: all the ingredients for a holiday in Umbria with kids!
Tenuta le Piane, near Amandola, Le Marche
This is a collection of proper rustic apartments hidden away from the modern world. It is incredibly peaceful at Tenuta le Piane: there are no busy roads near by, just mountains and meadows. The accommodation is traditional: don’t expect anything luxurious as it is a very authentic place to stay. Children love it: there’s a pool and bikes to borrow and lots of space to run around including plenty of shady areas.
Agriturismo Nacalino, near Modica, Sicily
We used this agriturismo as our base when we explored south eastern Sicily. We booked a “light snack” for our evening arrival at Nacalino and were greeted with a banquet: typical Sicilian hospitality. We stayed in an apartment with self catering facilities which was perfect for our little family: our kids weren’t always capable of staying up late enough to enjoy eating out in the nearby restaurants. The agriturismo has a play area in the garden and a swimming pool.
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Have you been on any farm holidays in Italy? Let me know in the comments below.