A grandfather helps his granddaughter pick grapes. // © 2013 Thinkstock
As springtime brightens Tuscany’s rolling hills with vibrant flowers, families can enjoy the season in the farm-based agriturismos located throughout the heart of the region’s countryside. These renovated farmhouses, some dating back to the 15th or 16th centuries, are unique alternatives to Italy’s typical resorts and hotels, providing spacious relaxation and intimate involvement with the traditional Italian landscape. The website Agriturismos.it is a helpful online tool for finding the right Italian agritourism accommodation for a client’s vacationing needs. It defines agritourism as “synonymous with free time spent in the open air, immersed in a social-rural environment abounding in culture, authentic traditions and quality agricultural food products.”
Typically situated in the secluded countryside, agriturismos provide sprawling grounds that children can safely explore, but are less than a one-hour drive from larger cities and tourist destinations. Without the need to pack and repack to visit each new city, families can make a home base in an agriturismo that is central to day-trip destinations such as the grand hill town of Orvieto, the walled medieval city of San Gimignano, seaside Manarola and Florence.
With family-based activities and local culinary offerings, a stay in one of these renovated farmhouses can make for a memorable family vacation in itself. Each agriturismo has different offerings, but most include a swimming pool, bicycles for rent or free of charge and hiking trails, in addition to televisions and Internet access. Select agriturismos include spas and hot springs for adults, while children can enjoy the Tuscan outdoors and play with other young guests at the property. Clients can also explore an agriturismo’s scenery as a family on foot, on horseback or on mountain bikes.
With some agriturismos situated on functioning olive groves and vineyards, children can roam through rows of grapes, and adult guests can taste wine from the same grapevines visible from their windows. Agriturismos that have a restaurant on-site prepare dishes made with homegrown produce and locally supplied meats and cheeses; properties with olive trees use olive oil made on-site. As agri- and eco-tourism becomes more popular, Italy’s agriturismos have been getting more recognition for their sustainable dining practices and accommodations, which allow guests to get a deeper, more local taste of Italy than is normally available. Tuscany’s Agriturismo Sant’Egle was named first place in the 2012 Sustainable Farms designation by the World Wildlife Fund and Agriturismo.it for its organic farming practices.
The Agriturismo.it website, established in 2001, has compiled a database of Italian agriturismos. It has a useful search tool for selecting the right property for a client’s needs, with filtering options for preferences such as location, activities, room type, price range, accommodation type and vacation type. The properties included in the website’s database can accommodate a range of family sizes, from two to 16 guests, with a range of room and suite sizes.