When I was living in Italy as an expat, Tuscany became our escape from the hectic and hurried life of Milan. After a few visits, we considered ourselves “locals”, so staying in a tourist hotel was beneath us. That’s when I discovered the Tuscany agriturismo culture.
Agristurismi are accommodations on a working farm in Italy. The agriturismo program was codified by the government in 1985 as a way to increase agricultural tourism for the countryside farms in Italy. Land owners were subsidized to build apartments and villas on their properties to house guests who wanted a more authentic Italian experience. According to the website, “Agriturismo” is synonymous with free time spent in the open air, at one with nature, immersed in a social-rural environment abounding in culture, authentic traditions, and quality agricultural food products. All of the companies listed on Agriturismo.it offer this type of hospitality, as well as a variety of prices and services that meet a wide range of needs.”
One of my favorites is Tuscany Agriturismo Belagaggio in Montefollonico. The accommodations are modern and accompanied by plenty of amenities including pools, fire pits, barbecues, walking trails, horseback riding and much more. It’s kind of the all-inclusive resort version of Italian vacationing.
I took my mom and two kids for a week to really fully immerse ourselves in the Tuscan culture. We spent our days visiting wineries along the Chianti Trail and exploring Tuscan hillside towns, then we’d retreat to the farm’s pool every afternoon with an assortment of wines, cheeses and cured meats we’d picked up in our travels. The farm housed eight different families so the best part of the day was gathering around the pool to share stories of the day’s adventures and discoveries.
Being a foodie, I would often stand in the cucina and watch our hostess, Antonella, prepare the evening meal. From chopping unfamiliar vegetables to plucking the chickens, I was eager to learn everything I could about this way of life. I would follow her down to the cellar where prosciutto hung from the ceiling while curing. My children enjoyed exploring the wide open fields and on occasion, watched as Antonella or Nonna would choose one of the chickens who would be our dinner “guest” that evening. I’m not sure they realized the cute bunnies were also on the menu.
On our final evening, the family hosted a dinner for all of the guests which included an extravagant, multi-course meal with copious amounts of wine, followed by live entertainment from Nonno’s accordion.