Agriturismi around Rome
Working farm B&Bs—called agriturismi—near Rome, Italy
Italian Farm Vacations: The Guide to Countryside Hospitality - The Touring Club Italiano is the AAA of Italy, and its travel guides are the best. Thankfully, this guide to agriturismi is now translated into English, showing travelers how to sample the classic pleasures of Italian country life. Sites range from rustic working farms and villas to elegant castles and wineries, with accommodations from simple bed and breakfast to separate houses...
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More on how agriturismi work in Italy: info, tips, and advice
• What to expect
One of my favorite agriturismi in the Chianti hills south of Florence, Villa Vignamaggio is where the Mona Lisa grew up (yes, that Mon Lisa) and, later, Kenneth Branagh filmed Much Ado about Nothing. » more Even if you can't afford your own farmhouse in the Italian countryside, you can up close with the rural heart of Italy by staying on an agriturismo, sort of like a B&B on a working farm.
Of course, by definition there aren't any agriturismi in the historic center of Rome. But you can find some right at Rome's doorstep, some just outside the ring road highway (they call it the G.R.A.), other at least within a half-hour drive, allowing you to sample the best of both the Eternal City and Lazio countryside (and, er, Italian traffic, though you may not be so jazzed about sampling that last one).
What is an agriturismo like?
Agriturismi range from vineyards and dairy farms to barns amid olive groves to frescoed villas next to horse stables.
By law, an agritourism establishment has to be a working farm, taking no more than 30 paying guests and earning no more that 30% of their income from hospitality (the rest from honest farm work).
Accommodations range from four-star luxury to something a straw's-width from sleeping in a stall, but are usually along the lines of a country-comfy and rustic room that looks exactly like what you'd expect to find staying with an aunt and uncle in the countryside.
Being on a farm, breakfasts can be phenomenal (and ultra-fresh).
Many are increasingly opening on-site restaurants featuring wonderfully huge, cheap, and hearty home-cooked dinners (the standard: about €30–€45, including wine, for four or five courses).
A country-comfy room at La Rignana, an agriturismo about an hour south of Florence in the Chianti. » more
How much does an agriturismo cost?
Agriturismi offer the experience of the Italian farm life for a fraction the cost of a hotel; double rooms run anywhere from €35 to €300, but usually average around €55 to €125.
Many agriturismi require a three-night minimum stay (for some, a week).
Roughly half accept credit cards.
The Rome tourist office is hopeless (20 properties, only 4 with website links, the rest just an address and telephone number). Few agriturismi are listed in English-language guidebooks.
The Touring Club Italiano's Italian Farm Vacations: The Guide to Countryside HospitalityThere are usually agriturismo guides available in local bookshops. These are usually only in Italian—though the Touring Club Italiano's excellent guide (pictured on the right) is now also translated into English, and you can even buy it at Barnes & Noble—but even if you buy one in Italian from a bookstore over there, the important bits are easy enough to figure out: addresses, prices, and phone numbers, photographs, and icons denoting private baths, swimming pools, etc.
You can always just look for the ubiquitous agriturismo signs on country roads (traditionally brown or yellow, but lately they come in all colors), pointing you down rutted dirt tracks toward a farmhouse set among the vineyards.
However, if you want to find and book a few before you leave, here are the best resources for finding farm stays in Italy.
- Venere.com (www.venere.com) - Excellent hotel booking engine that also represents loads of agriturismi. Under each destination category, just select the radio button under "Accommodations type" in the left column that says "Farm Houses."
- Official Italy agriturism sites (www.terranostra.it, www.turismoverde.it, www.agriturist.it) - The three major national agrotourism organizations/databases. Unfortunately, only that last one (Agriturist) has an English-language version of the site available; the others are in Italian only, but, again, its pretty easy to click your way through the geographic organization and suss out the page details. On Terranostra, click on "La Tua Vacanza" (your vacation) at the bottom of the page, then on "Ricerca" (search). From there it's all maps and lists. At Turismo Verde, click on "Guida" (guide) along the top bar; the next page will list all the regions on the left, and its maps and lists from then on.
- Unofficial Italy farmstay sites (www.agritour.net, www.agriturismo.net, www.agriturismo.com) - Unofficial, yes, but still darned useful, and more likely to be in English.
- More tips and advice on agriturismi in Italy
- Hotels in Rome
- Reid's recommended hotels
- Other alternative accommodations in Rome (B&Bs, apartments, residence hotels, hostels, camping)
- Other lodging options in Italy
- WOOFing (working for your room and board on a farm)
This material was last updated February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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