Italy is home to a very special kind of tourism. Known locally as agriturismo, it’s what happens when the worlds of agriculture and tourism come together to create completely unique accommodation experiences. Essentially, an agriturismo is a hotel located on a farm. Agriturismos are dotted across Italy, from the vineyards of Tuscany to the olive groves of Sicily, and offer their guests the opportunity to learn about traditional ways of living, working and eating in Italy. Agriturismo providers must be certified by the government before being allowed to use the title, so their visitors know that they are genuine, working farms that incorporate their products into the food they serve to guests.
Recently, some agriturismo operators have sought to differentiate themselves from their competitors by incorporating sustainable practices into their farming and accommodations. These agriturismos are perfect for travelers who want to reduce the ecological footprint of their adventures. Plus, they offer a more memorable travel experience than a standard hotel, and are often much less expensive. We checked out five of the best agriturismos across the country that are committed to environmentally-friendly hospitality.
Incisa Valdarno, Tuscany.
Located only twenty kilometers away from Florence, Agriturismo Poderaccio consists of an eighteenth-century farmhouse that has been divided into four private apartments. The adjoining family-run farm produces extra-virgin olive oil and organic fruits and vegetables. Agriturismo Poderaccio has won awards for its complete package of sustainable practices, including wood and solar heating, waste reduction and recycling, and water conservation in farming. It is particularly well-suited to travelers who arrive from Florence via bicycle, as they offer secure bike storage and repair tools.
Agriturismo La Fontaccia
Also close to Florence, Agriturismo La Fontaccia has three rooms and two full apartments in a traditional Tuscan farmhouse. The surrounding farms and orchards grow olives, apples, cherries, persimmons and nuts, all of which are served according to the season in the on-site restaurant. Solar panels provide all of the energy needed on the farm and in the farmhouse, and crops are irrigated using collected rainwater. Inside the guestrooms, the majority of the furnishings are original or restored antiques, while any new fixtures were crafted by members of a program designed to provide employment to vulnerable people from the local community.
Agriturismo il Cavicchio
Rastignano di Pianoro, Emilia-Romagna
Agriturismo il Cavicchio’s farm is run by Federico (an Italian farmer) and his family, while the accommodation and its grounds are cared for by Latifa, a recent immigrant from Morocco. They offer five rooms and two apartments, as well as a communal living area and a swimming pool, only fifteen minutes away from the city of Bologna. The accommodations were retrofitted to be energy efficient, with new insulation, double-glazed windows and a vented roof. The family’s farm is certified organic and avoids the use of even natural pesticides.
Fattoria Mosè has been welcoming guests to its family-run agriturismo for more than twenty years. The current operators are the fifth generation of their family to have worked the surrounding fields, and some parts of the building date back to the middle ages. They have six apartments with full kitchens available, as well as four traditional private hotel-style rooms. Each day, a breakfast made from local ingredients is served, followed by a family-style dinner. In addition to housing a fully-organic farm, Fattoria Mosè is committed to teaching its guests about sustainable practices. Children who stay at the agriturismo are invited to participate in caring for the farm animals, while adults can sign up for cooking classes based on local, seasonal and organic ingredients.
Agriturismo Sant’Egle is a unique agriturismo located beside the centuries-old thermal baths of Sorano. The guesthouse was built in the sixteenth century, and today the surrounding farms grow distinctive organic crops including spirulina, saffron and stevia using biodynamic farming methods. The “biopool” was constructed from natural, cement-free materials and uses a chlorine-free, salt-based system to naturally filter the pool’s water. The nearby hot tub is heated naturally with local firewood. Recently, an innovative underground multipurpose space was constructed from local materials like straw, clay and wood, so that guests can hold sustainable meetings and special events onsite.
Staying at an Italian agriturismo can be an enlightening experience. Because these are actual working farms, there are some things you can do to make your stay more enjoyable. Ensure that you have confirmed your arrival and departure times with your host in advance, as they may need to adjust their farming schedule to accommodate you. If you have any dietary restrictions, inform your hosts in advance so that they gather and prepare foods that you will enjoy. Finally, maintain an open mind. Staying on an organic farm is different than staying in a chain hotel, and what it may lack in amenities or services, it will more than make up for in authentic Italian culture.