Farm stays and agritourismi in Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields ★★★

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 

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All about Farm stays in

The goose pond 30 feet from my bedroom seemed lovely... until I discovered that Honking Hour started at 6am.

La Cascina Rocca was an agriturismo, a farm in the heart of 's Piemonte wine country that also offered rooms to travelers.

Some slopes around the old farmhouse were strung with grape vines, others planted with fig and olive. There was a chicken coop out back, several fruit orchards... and that infernal pond.

I got my revenge, though: Breakfast included the most delectable goose liver pâté.

Even if you can't afford your own farmhouse in the Italian countryside, staying on a working farm, or agriturismo gets you up close with the rural heart of .

You don’t even have to milk the cows to make cheese or stomp the grapes for wine (though sometimes being a temporary farm hand for fun is an option).

Farm stay operations in can range from that Piemonte wine estate I described, La Cascina Rocca (from €90), to Agriturimo Papyrus near Siracusa, Sicily, with its own on-site ethnographic museum and library (from €95) to the villa where the actual Mona Lisa grew up and Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing was filmed, Villa Vignamaggio in the heart of the Chianti (from €217). 

How much does a farm stay in cost?

Many Italian farms charge between €50 and €100 per night for a B&B arrangement. Fancier places may charge more.

self-catering cottage on a farm in Tuscany or the Veneto (or anywhere else) starts around €200–€400 per week.

What a Italian farm stay is like

The concept behind agritourism (or rural tourism, or farm stays, or farmhouse B&Bs, or whatever you want to call it) is simple: you spend the night as a guest on a working farm. From there, though, the concept flies off in many directions.

Sometimes you just hole up for the night in a B&B converted from a farmhouse.

Sometimes you actually stick around to do volunteer work for a few days (a week, two months, a year), as with the WWOOF and Helpx networks.

Sometimes, just renting a cottage in a rural area where sheep wander past your window is enough to count.

Ideally, the property's owners live on-site and are farmers who derive the bulk of their income from agriculture, using this newfangled form of tourism merely to help make ends meet.

I've stayed at loads of farms in : vineyards and dairy farms, barns amid olive groves and frescoed villas next to horse stables.

Each stay has offered me a different experience of farm life for a fraction the cost of a hotel.

Many agritourisms require a three-night minimum stay (for some, a week).

Roughly half accept credit cards.

Sometimes you get four-star luxury and satellite TV. Sometimes you’re a straw's-width from sleeping in a stall.

Most, though, are just what you'd expect from a farmhouse B&B: simple comforts, solid country furnishings, and rural tranquility—barnyard noises excepted.

The hosts tend to be a sight friendlier than your average hotel desk clerk. Some invite guests to dine with them, family-style, in the farmhouse. One shepherd let me stir a bubbling pot of sheep's milk to help it on its way to becoming pecorino cheese. Vineyard owners love to crack open bottles of their best to guide you through the finer points of wine tasting.

Breakfast is usually awesome: farm-fresh and farmer-hearty.

Finding the perfect Italian farm stay

As usual, the best resource is usually the local tourist office, which almost always keeps a complete list of all agritourismi and farm stays in the area—and, in the best cases, includes that list on its website with links.

That said, below are links and resources to help you find farm stays across .

Tips

Why we idealize life on the farm

Those of us trapped in the cities, suburbias, and endless mallscapes of the so-called "developed" world are increasingly seeking out the simple pleasures of the farm life on vacation.

(Farmers: we call them "simple pleasures" because we don't actually have to get up at 4am to do back-breaking work all day only to watch some natural disaster, commodities market crisis, or simple bad weather whither the annual yield.)

Why?

Well, if there's one thing that connects and binds all human beings, across cultures and languages, races and religions, it’s agriculture.

That might sound funny coming from a guy who lived most of his life in Philly and New York City—who’s being read by folks squinting at glowing computer terminals—but think about it.

Conventional wisdom holds that humanity as a collective culture began when our distant ancestors settled down in the fertile Tigris/Euphrates river valley and began cultivating the land and domesticating the more docile of the meat-on-the-hoof creatures handy.

Our very existence as a social species with an advanced culture and ever more inventive tool-making capabilities (behold: the iPhone) has its roots sunk deep in the rich soil of agricultural pursuits.

There's a reason that farms in Europe are so heavily subsidized and America's amber waves of grain are immortalized in song. Agriculture is more than just a food source.

Somewhere, deep down, we all realize that to lose our farmers would mean to lose something fundamental about our very way of life—even if all we do all day is sit inside the fat trunks of the glass-and-steel trees that forest our postmodern concrete jungles and tap away endlessly at computer keyboards.

Perhaps it's that very disconnect from our species' fundamental mode of survival and community life—sit still, plant food, raise livestock, be friendly to the neighbors—which is driving the development of the agritourism movement.

Why we idealize life on the farm

Those of us trapped in the cities, suburbias, and endless mallscapes of the so-called "developed" world are increasingly seeking out the simple pleasures of the farm life on vacation.

(Farmers: we call them "simple pleasures" because we don't actually have to get up at 4am to do back-breaking work all day only to watch some natural disaster, commodities market crisis, or simple bad weather whither the annual yield.)

Why?

Well, if there's one thing that connects and binds all human beings, across cultures and languages, races and religions, it’s agriculture.

That might sound funny coming from a guy who lived most of his life in Philly and New York City—who’s being read by folks squinting at glowing computer terminals—but think about it.

Conventional wisdom holds that humanity as a collective culture began when our distant ancestors settled down in the fertile Tigris/Euphrates river valley and began cultivating the land and domesticating the more docile of the meat-on-the-hoof creatures handy.

Our very existence as a social species with an advanced culture and ever more inventive tool-making capabilities (behold: the iPhone) has its roots sunk deep in the rich soil of agricultural pursuits.

There's a reason that farms in Europe are so heavily subsidized and America's amber waves of grain are immortalized in song. Agriculture is more than just a food source.

Somewhere, deep down, we all realize that to lose our farmers would mean to lose something fundamental about our very way of life—even if all we do all day is sit inside the fat trunks of the glass-and-steel trees that forest our postmodern concrete jungles and tap away endlessly at computer keyboards.

Perhaps it's that very disconnect from our species' fundamental mode of survival and community life—sit still, plant food, raise livestock, be friendly to the neighbors—which is driving the development of the agritourism movement.

About the lodging star ratings (☆☆☆ to ★★★)

You will notice that all hotels, B&Bs, and other lodgingds (as well as sights and restaurants) on this site have a ReidsItaly.com star designation from ☆☆☆ to ★★★.

This merely indicates that I feel these accommodations offer a little something that makes them special (or extra-special, or extra-extra special, etc.).

These star ratings are entirely based on personal opinion, and have nothing to do with the official Italian hotel ratings—which have more to do with quantifiable amenities such as minibars, and not the intangibles that make a hotel truly stand out, like a combination of great location, friendly owners, nice style, and low prices.

In general, a pricier place to stay has to impress me that it is worth the added expense.

This is why I give ★★★ to some (official) "two-star" hotels or B&Bs that happen to provide amazing value for the money—and similarly have ranked a few (official) "four-star" properties just (★★☆).

About the lodging price brackets (€–€€€)

Accommodations rates vary wildly—even at the same hotel or B&B—depending on type of room, number of people in it, and the season.

That's why here at ReidsItaly.com we simply provde a general price range indicating the rough rate you should expect to pay for a standard double room in mid-season.

There are three price ranges, giving you a sense of which lodgings are budget, which are moderate, and which are splurges:

under €100
€€ €100–€200
€€€ over €200
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for lodging

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra
...an apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
     
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah


 

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).

 
 

» More about Farm stays in Italy

General info about Farm stays in Italy

★★★
La Cascina del Monastero in Piemonte'w wine district is one of my favorite Italian farm stays (scroll to the bottom for a link to a story about it) (Photo courtesy of La Cascina del Monastero)

Stay on a working farm agritourismo and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition