Picture this: You arrive at an authentic Italian villa called an agriturismo in the Tuscan countryside, and join an expert chef to create regional dishes while overlooking the landscape. You pour yourself a glass of Chianti, and make yourself at home in a cozy room with views of olive trees and vineyards. Free days are all about taking leisurely strolls around the property and lounging on the patio in the sun. You pour yourself more Chianti.
If that sounds like your type of Italian getaway, then put our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour on your travel wish list! Go Ahead staffer Marina just returned from our very first departure, where she and her group spent three nights at an agriturismo in Tuscany called Villa la Palagina (where immersing yourself in Italian culture is the name of the game!). Read on for everything you need to know about visiting an agriturismo on tour in Italy.
What is an agriturismo?
“An agriturismo is literally a mix of the Italian words for agriculture and tourism,” said staffer Marina. “Agriturismi (the plural form of agriturismo) are independently owned farms that are often used for accommodation. They provide an authentic, rural experience, and the food is very fresh and delicious! From my understanding, they allow farms to thrive by offsetting some of the costs associated with the upkeep of the land. Plus, they allow Italians to share their food and culture in an intimate setting.”
Why should you stay at an agriturismo in Italy?
Long story short: Staying at an agriturismo in Italy is one of the most authentic, off-the-beaten-path experiences you can have. These farm stays give you an up-close look at local life in the Italian countryside, where farmers, chefs, and artisans serve up some of the country’s most important regional products. Think: extra virgin olive oil, wine, seasonal vegetables, handmade pasta dishes, and more.
We don’t know if you’ll love the scenery or the fresh food more, but one thing’s for sure: You’re guaranteed to feel closer to the people, the land, and Italian culture after visiting an agriturismo. That’s why we include them on all of our small group Food & Wine Tours of Italy. Read on to find out more about each agriturismo we visit—if you’re anything like us, you’ll have a hard time picking a favorite!
You can stay overnight at an agriturismo in Tuscany
Wondering where to stay in Tuscany? If spending a night at a Tuscan farmhouse is on your bucket list, good news: We’ve saved you a room on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour. “It felt so relaxing and rural,” said staffer Marina. “Waking up every day to the view of the countryside and the sounds of nature was incredible. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, and like this wasn’t a place you just stumble upon. It didn’t feel touristy or well-known.”
While making yourself at home for a few nights is what our visit to a Tuscan agriturismo is all about, some locales only offer day visits and cooking classes. “They’re all different!” said staffer Marina. “Some have overnight accommodations, some don’t. Some are big, and some are small. It really depends what you’re looking for. And depending on the region, the crop and local fresh food will be different.”
We’ve saved you free time at the agriturismo in Tuscany to enjoy farm tours, take bike rides, and sip wine by the pool
The agriturismo you’ll stay in on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour offers relaxation in spades. The shuttered windows of Villa la Palagina open up to postcard-worthy views of the Tuscan landscape—as well as pools, walking paths, farmland, and a patio fit for aperitivo hour. Here are some of the best ways to wile away free time at this unforgettable Tuscan agriturismo:
- Kick back with some vino. “Travelers were so excited to just sit and take in the view,” said staffer Marina. “There was a really beautiful patio where people could sit in the sun. You could pick up a drink and snack at the bar and bring it outside and sit and look out.”
- Explore the property. “Some travelers wanted to be a little more active,” said staffer Marina. “There were some beautiful grounds and paths surrounding the agriturismo. You could go and see the farm, and walk through some vineyards. There was a church, and some farm animals. I did that one day and spent an hour just walking around. I could have done that for another hour!”
- Add an excursion. “The agriturismo does offer some other activities that aren’t on site, but you can add them during free time if you want to,” said Marina. “If you want to leave earlier in the day, there’s hot air ballooning, and there were vespas you could rent!”
An expert chef will teach you to make regional dishes during your visit
“We did a cooking class with their chef using local ingredients, and had a tasting of their olive oil produced on-site from the olive trees growing all around the property,” said staffer Marina. “They were proud to share their creations with guests.”
“We had a really nice view of the Tuscan landscape while we were doing the cooking class, and made really traditional dishes that we got the whole backstory on,” Marina continued. “We made a Tuscan soup called pappa al pomodoro, and the chef explained that it’s seen as a comfort food that mothers make for their children when they’re young. You’re supposed to be able to stick a piece of bread in it, and if it sticks up, it means you did it right! It was fun to get a little bit of backstory on that. Our Tour Director Sabra made it really engaging and colorful, and added some context to each dish. It was a nice meal that carried some memories and significance about where we were.”
The seasonal dishes that staffer Marina’s group learned to make at the Tuscan agriturismo cooking class:
- Focacce rustiche (country-style focaccia topped with rosemary, onions, and cherry tomatoes)
- Pappa al pomodoro (typical bread-and-tomato Tuscan soup)
- Tiramisù classico (with savoiardi biscuits, coffee, mascarpone, eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder)
Visiting an agriturismo in Tuscany shows you a slower side of Italian life
Immersive moments make our small group Food & Wine Tours shine, and there’s nothing as immersive as visiting a working farm in the Italian countryside! While big cities and bustling cafes are always unforgettable, sometimes slowing down and going off the beaten path is the best way to truly understand local culture.
“Staying at an agriturismo really was a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively,” said staffer Marina with a laugh. “It was a great end to the trip because we’d been going into the food epicenters of northern Italy, into markets, restaurants, and cities. So, going to Tuscany and seeing this wide landscape, and being able to sit still and enjoy the food and wine just felt really relaxing and full circle. We ended on this high note of taking it in, pausing, and sitting still.”
Where else can you visit an agriturismo in Italy?
If you’re wondering how to find an agriturismo, our travel experts have you covered. These welcoming hubs of Italian food and culture are scattered around the country, and we bring you to some of the best on tour in Italy. Here are some of our staffers’ favorites:
- You’ll have a room with a view at Villa la Palagina on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour, which is one of the best places to stay in Tuscany. The villa “presents as a beautiful hotel,” said staffer Marina after spending three nights here on tour. In fact, when it came to the things travelers enjoyed most at this villa, Marina was quick to say it was “the views of the property—nothing quite like it!” (Who doesn’t love seeing quintessential Tuscan scenery from their hotel room window?)
Learn to make authentic, regional dishes at Podere San Giuliano in Bologna on our Food & Wine: Northern Italy & the Italian Riviera tour. You’ll fold tortelloni alongside the owner and chef, Federica, and get a feel for the region’s culinary traditions as you go. “It’s wonderful to have the travelers come by because they are so curious—they want to know about ingredients, their origins, and sometimes technical information, too,” said Federica. “But what they really prefer is to live the real experience, using their hands to craft pasta and tasting truly local food.”
In the hills high above Sorrento sits Fattoria Terranova, where you won’t be able to pick what’s better: the unforgettable property overlooking the sea, or the regional dishes crafted with love. You can visit on an added Rustic Italy: Farmhouse Dinner & Wine Tasting excursion on our A Week in Italy: Naples, Sorrento & Rome tour. “For almost three hours, overflowing plates of home-cooked specialties made their way from the kitchen to our table, and each was even more delicious than the last,” said staffer Jamie.
Have your heart set on eating a Michelin-starred meal at least once on tour in Italy? Well, settle in to an agriturismo called Krèsios in the Benevento countryside on our Food & Wine: Southern Italy & Sicily tour, and get ready to roll up your sleeves. You’ll learn to craft traditional Campanian recipes in a cooking class followed by dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant on the property—and if that’s not a bucket list moment, we don’t know what is. “The restaurant itself is set on many acres behind a gated drive, and the grounds feature an expanse of olive trees and local produce grown by the chef himself,” said staffer Emily. “Chef Iannotti showed us all around the property. We got to walk around, and he picked berries off the trees and let us taste things. He explained that he prides himself on getting all locally sourced ingredients for his restaurant.”
- Sit down for a local-led wine tasting at an agriturismo in Ceppaloni on our Food & Wine: Campania, Puglia & the Amalfi Coast tour. You’ll sip Falanghina wine from Sannio and red Taurasi wines from Irpinia alongside one of the family members who owns the farm stay. (Talk about a warm welcome!) That very same Small Group Tour includes an overnight stay at another agriturismo in the Itria Valley countryside, where you’ll learn to make fresh pasta, focaccia bread, and other farm-to-table specialties at a Pugliese cooking lesson. Buon appetito!
If wine tastings in Italy are up your alley, then set your sights on our Food & Wine: Flavors of Tuscany & Umbria tour. From grape to glass, this part of Italy is where some of the world’s most celebrated vino is made, and you can try the best of the best during a wine tasting at at an agriturismo in Chianti.