` It's Life on the Farm in Italy, For a Week - Olive Oil Times

It's Life on the Farm in Italy, For a Week

Mar. 7, 2011
Laura Rose

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Italy is the most rural of all coun­tries in Western Europe, with the small­est urban pop­u­la­tion and a coun­try­side team­ing with small towns and the farms that are their foun­da­tions. For for­eign­ers, the dreamy image of Italy is con­sti­tuted as much by the green vine­yard towns of Tuscany as it is the ancient cap­i­tal ruins of Rome. For the inter­ested trav­eler, the rural side of Italy is there to par­take in, thanks to the advent of agri­t­ur­ismi.

The gov­ern­ment cre­ated the cat­e­gory of agri­t­ur­ismo to keep the country’s pre­cious small farms sus­tain­able, allow­ing them to open their doors and wel­come vis­i­tors to spend a vaca­tion on their prop­er­ties. It func­tions as an exchange, with farm­ers able to sup­ple­ment their incomes, and vis­i­tors able to get a taste of the quiet, bucolic, and deli­cious real­ity that is farm life.

In 1985, a piece of inven­tive leg­is­la­tion com­bined the words agri­cul­tura and tur­ismo to add a new oppor­tu­nity for the nation’s strug­gling farms, and a new form of sight­see­ing was born. Since then, small pro­duc­ers of Italy’s bounty — wine, fruits and veg­eta­bles, cheese, olive oil — have opened their doors to vis­i­tors who are wel­comed to stay for a few nights and expe­ri­ence the agrar­ian way of life. It is a way to live within the nature that is far dif­fer­ent from a hike in the moun­tains or a remote sea­side escape. At an agri­t­ur­ismo, you see first­hand, and can even par­tic­i­pate in, a kind of lifestyle that coex­ists with nature, a human expe­ri­ence that depends on nature for sustenance.

Verdant and hilly, the region of Umbria is home to over 1200 agri­t­ur­ismi, many of them devoted to the region’s olive oil pro­duc­tion, such as the pop­u­lar Agriturismo Antico Frantoio-Anghiari and Agriturismo Le Olive di Nedda which both offer breath-tak­ing views of their olive groves and the sur­round­ing rolling land­scape. At any of the agri­t­ur­ismi, facil­i­ties vary from the most rus­tic, tra­di­tional stone house, to places that have been ren­o­vated with lux­u­ri­ous pools and saunas, how­ever they are not hotels.


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People come to stay at the farms to recon­nect with nature, usu­ally spend­ing days hik­ing or cycling around the area, or par­tic­i­pat­ing in the farm work. If you’ve ever wanted to pick olives or watch a mill­stone press out the deep green oil, time your vaca­tion right and this is your chance. Meals are a big as part of your stay, so you can look for­ward to din­ing on farm-fresh ingre­di­ents pre­pared by know­ing local hands. Worlds away from a tra­di­tional restau­rant, this expe­ri­ence lets you truly eat like a local while chat­ting with some­one who is pas­sion­ate about the food, because they grow it.

The agri­t­ur­ismi offer a very per­sonal intro­duc­tion to rural life in Italy, allow­ing you to peer into the process of grow­ing and pro­duc­ing food, to remind you how depen­dent even the most met­ro­pol­i­tan of us are on the land. Instead of a concierge, you will be met by a per­son who is wel­com­ing you to the land they love and tend, and can show you a side of life that may be a mys­tery to you but is still fun­da­men­tal to your own.

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