Agriturismo (a-gree-two-reez-mo). What’s an agriturismo you ask? Google translate refers to it as a farmhouse or a farm holiday. We just call them Fantastic! In a nutshell, an agriturismo is a family run farm which opens their doors to guests. Doing this helps the family subsidize their income allowing them to keep their farming way of life alive and well. To qualify as an agriturismo the farm must produce 51% of its income from farming. The remaining 49% of income can be generated by hosting guests.
Not only are agriturismos good business for small farms in Italy, they are equally good for us as travellers.
There are rewards for leaving the big cities of Italy to relax in one of these hillside country farms. “Tell me more Peter!”
“Sure thing. I’d love to. “ If you spend any extended amount of time travelling in the large cities, there usually comes a time when things become a bit much. The constant hum of man and machines that surrounds you at all times can be tiring. Don’t get me wrong, we love visiting cities like Milan, Florence and Rome. But… when we need to catch our breath, only the Italian countryside will do! The combination of stunning vistas and slower pace is hard to beat.
We’ve been very fortunate to have stayed at a number of excellent agriturismos in Italy. This said, I would like to spotlight one of our favorites. Antico Borgo Poggiarello.
Poggiarello was our very first agriturismo stay and it cast the die for future trips to the Tuscan and Umbrian countrysides. We discovered this gem by chance while we were planning our second trip to Italy in 2013. Ever since then we have been telling anyone who will listen how much we love it here.
Finding an agriturismo or some other form of lodging in an unfamiliar country can seem daunting to say the least.
Consider this while you start your search for accommodations in Toscana. Agriturismos are usually conveniently located in close proximity to most of Tuscany’s favorite must see sights.
That said, why did we choose Antico Borgo Poggiarello over a host of other wonderful places that can be found in Tuscany? Without a doubt it was their location. What we needed was a place that would be close enough to reach most of Tuscany’s most popular hilltowns. Poggiarello fit the bill quite well in that respect.
Volterra, San Gimignano, Siena, Monteriggioni and the Chianti wine region all fall within 25 minutes to an hour from the farm. Stretch the drive a bit further and Cortona, Montelcino, Montepulciano and even Florence come into play.
Now if driving concerns you, let me ease your mind. While the roads can be somewhat narrow and curvy, the drive is very scenic and relatively easy to navigate. You’ll pass by countless vineyards and olive farms as you motor along to your next destination. Depending on the time of year, the blooms of sunflower and poppy fields will paint the countryside yellow and red.
Location was only part of the reason we chose to stay at Poggiarello.
Our list of needs and wants for accommodations, while not long, is specific. Internet. This is huge for us. When staying in the countryside we need good WiFi to stay in touch with friends and family. Unless you have a great data plan on your phone, the roaming charges will kill you. To sweeten the pot, Poggiarello has upgraded their wireless so that now you can get a strong signal anywhere on the property. Want to send emails home to family and friends while savoring a cappuccino in the shade of a rustic pergola? No problem. A wisteria draped perch overlooking a classic Tuscan valley is waiting for you. Maybe you’re the type who likes to work on the computer while reclining on a beach chair next to an inviting swimming pool. Guess what? They have you covered for that as well! But… I’m getting ahead of myself.
Air conditioning is key to keeping cool in the heat of a Tuscan summer day. It should never be an afterthought.
Never take for granted that when booking a room it will have air conditioning. This is something we learnt the hard way. Coming from a country where winter is seemingly endless, travelling to Italy in late spring and early summer can take its toll. Our last trip saw temps in the mid to high 30’s Celsius. Trust me when I say, ” you’ll appreciate having a room that you can cool down at the touch of a button.” Especially at night!
Along with good air conditioning, Poggiarello goes the extra mile to cool down their guest on those scorching hot days. They have put in a big swimming pool! Jumping into this unheated pool on a hot day instantly brings down a persons body temperature! For those of you trying to stay fit, it’s a great size for doing laps. Now the best part of having a pool close at hand is, your kids will love it. Consider this, your family can head out sight seeing during the day and later the kids are rewarded with pool time. (If they were good that is!) It’s a win win.
An agriturismo is only as good as the people who run it.
Antico Borgo Poggiarello is very much a family business. We have had the pleasure of meeting and staying with the Giove family and their extended family a couple times now. Each time they have made us feel warmly welcomed. It’s always a great way to start off any Tuscan stay.
Need more convincing about booking a few nights at this agriturismo? How would knowing that they also cook for you peak your interest?
Not only can they cook for you, they will create delicious meals to remember. As head chef of his small but efficient kitchen, Roberto gets to indulge in his passion for cooking. Not only does he love to create mouth watering dishes for his guests, he also enjoys teaching his techniques to those who would like to join him in the kitchen. Mi amore took advantage of the offer to cook with Roberto and had a great time helping prepare the evening meal.
When it comes to making the quintessential Italian dessert however, Roberto steps aside and hands the kitchen over to his wife Ali… “The Queen of Tiramisu”
If cooking an Italian meal along side a Tuscan chef wasn’t highlight enough, learning how to make a delicious tiramisu from scratch certainly put it over the top. The only thing better than the experience of making the tiramisu was eating it! Actually, the only thing better than eating tiramisu is savoring tiramisu while watching the sun set behind the Tuscan hills.
For those of you that enjoy a fine wine with your meal and after dinner socializing… you’re in luck!
Paolo is Poggiarello’s resident wine expert and is always happy to talk about his passion for wine with you. His knowledge of the areas local vineyards and the wines they offer will add to your dining experience. Truth be told, he knows what’s good in local craft beers as well. The fact is, some days all you want is a nice cold beer with your meal!
If you are looking for something a little different for your next holiday give an agriturismo a try. If you are planning a Tuscan holiday, give Antico Borgo Poggiarello a serious look. It was a great find for us and we predict that you’ll enjoy your stay as well.
Want to know more about agriturismo stays? Check out this blog post by Italy Explained.
Ciao Amici. Now go out there and make some beautiful memories!