Over the last 30 years agritourism (agriturismo) has been rapidly growing in popularity in Italy and giving people from all over the world, including the Expat community in Italy, the opportunity to experience life in the Italian countryside. Tourism has evolved quickly over the last few decades with more people seeking an authentic, environmentally friendly experience and agritourism has emerged to perfectly meet this demand.
What Is Agritourism?
Agritourism, according to the World Tourism Organization, is defined as properties that enable tourists to stay on a farm, ranch or other agricultural facilities. The tourists who stay on these properties are able to observe and even take part in the farming operations, giving them a unique chance to experience the realities of rural life while on holiday. The tourists on the farms or agricultural properties stay in separate lodges or guesthouses and are usually provided with meals and an itinerary of related local activities.
What Are The Different Types of Agritourism?
There are several main types of agritourism, not all of which involve guests staying overnight on the farm properties, although this is a major booming sector in the industry.
Direct to consumer sales.
This is a common practice in Italy and involves farms allowing consumers to pick their own food directly from the fields. For instance, consumers can pick their own strawberries which are then weighed and paid for before they leave.
It can also include farm stands, often on road sides, where passing traffic can stop to buy fresh produce.
Farms and other agricultural operations offer educational programs whereby schools and tourists can visit their properties to learn about the processes involved in their crop production. One of the most popular types of educational agritourism in Italy involves tourists visiting vineyards to learn about the ancient traditions of winemaking.
This is a fast growing sector of the industry which involves guests staying overnight on the farm property. During their stay they can observe and participate in the farming production and other on site activities.
Hunting trips, horseback riding, navigating corn mazes or other types of recreational activities that are based on or around farming properties are a fun way to experience the traditions of the rural parts of our world. These activities are especially popular with families who have children.
Where Does Agritourism Take Place?
Agritourism, or ‘agriturismo’ as it’s known in Italy, generally favors small scale farms which practise more traditional methods of production; and with more than 20,000 participating farms across the country the diversity of locations is quite stunning!
This means that no matter what type of farming, scenery and environment you want to experience first hand, Italy has the perfect agritourism holiday just waiting for you.
Agritourism farms can be found all over Italy, from the suburbs of Rome to the mountainous Northern regions, from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the Mediterranean coast!
Many of the agritourism farms in Italy are located in the hill regions of the country because in these areas the farmers cannot use modern large scale machinery. As a result of not being able to use modern machinery the owners have had to stick with their traditional farming methods which although less profitable are far more appealing for agri-tourists! For these farmers, who may be struggling to turn a profit, the extra income from agri-tourists can be the difference between staying in business and going broke.
Agritourism is also quite common in areas of woodland and ancient forests where the development and use of modern farming techniques is restricted. Other agritourism locations are situated near to medieval towns and villages which means that tourists can stay on the farms and take day trips to visit the nearby sites in town.
Ultimately, agritourism is so widespread now that no matter what you’re looking for you’re bound to find it in Italy!
What Is The Goal Of Agritourism?
Agritourism plays a valuable role in helping the countryside and farming sector in Italy to remain vibrant, thriving and future-proofed; providing additional streams of income for the farmers and wonderful experiences for their visitors and customers.
There are many goals of agritourism which do vary slightly from region to region, although they do all share some common ambitions.
- Agritourism provides an extra income stream for farmers while minimizing the annual fluctuations that are inevitable in the farming sector of the economy.
- Helps to educate and inform the public about farming and its importance in terms of human health and the life of the rural economy.
- Provides an opportunity for tourists to experience the authentic rural life in Italy.
- Agritourism gives farmers the chance to interact directly with their customers instead of having to sell their products through a middle man.
- Helps to make use of all the resources on the farm; for instance, unused outbuildings can be renovated to provide accommodation for tourists or be used to set up a locally sourced restaurant.
- Agritourism develops and promotes the unique resources and products of the different regions of Italy.
- Encourages an increased diversity of services and industries in rural environments.
- Agritourism supports high quality, sustainable production of wines, food and other produce.
- Agritourism helps to encourage forestry and wildlife conservation.
What Types Of Accommodation And Amenities Do Agritourism Properties Have?
The accommodation and amenities on agritourism farms and properties vary considerably; meaning that you can find everything from luxury lodges and facilities to more basic camping sites.
Some agritourism businesses may also offer Bed and Breakfast facilities where you can have a fresh breakfast made from the farm’s own produce! Other agritourism businesses have onsite restaurants, cafes and food stands selling their farm’s produce.
What Kind Of Activities Can You Participate In?
Many vineyards, or farms in general, provide tasting sessions where tourists and customers can try the wine or food for themselves. Of course, this fosters engagement between the producer and consumer as well as increasing the farmer’s income.
In other cases, agritourism farms offer recreational or cultural activities for their customers. For example, equestrian properties might offer horse riding or a large farm might have quad biking facilities. Alternatively, a vineyard may offer tourists the chance to help make the wine while learning about the traditional techniques that are being used by the winemakers.
Part of the popularity of agritourism is the massive diversity of properties, activities and landscapes which means there really is something for everyone!
How Do You Qualify To Be An Agritourism Business In Italy?
If you’ve ever thought about starting over and moving to Italy to set up an agritourism business of your own you need to be aware that there are some fairly strict regulations you need to comply with.
As you might expect in Italy, there is a fairly complex bureaucratic process to go through before you can be officially registered as an agritourism business.
Italian government regulations mean that only a farmer can run an agritourism business. There are many benefits for farmers in registering themselves as an agritourism business because it reduces their taxes and makes them eligible for European Union subsidies and exclusive training courses.
To set up an agritourism business you need to register as a ‘coltivatore diretto’ with the local authorities. They will then determine if you are eligible for the status based on a number of factors.
Firstly, you must be engaged in farming activities for at least 104 days out of the year as well as already being registered as a farmer. If you are deemed to be eligible then you will have to submit your building permits, health and safety inspection documents and fire safety compliance documents.
If you are planning to open a restaurant on your farm, to qualify as an agritourism business, at least 30% of the food served in the restaurant must come from your own farm property.
There are also limits to the number of customers you can have on your property at any one time! For instance, as an agritourism business you can’t have more than 30 people staying in your accommodations at any one time and no more than 60 people in your restaurant.
If everything goes well, then the local authorities will send the fire brigade to inspect your property and finally, if you pass their inspection you will be officially registered as a ‘operatori agriturismo’; in other words, you can open for business!
However, if you don’t qualify for an official agritourism permit you can still set up a B&B, holiday homes or a campsite on your rural property; so even if you can’t manage to set up a agritourism business you can still create a successful business in the rural parts of Italy.
How Do You Make Reservations At A Location That Offers Agritourism?
There’s several ways that you can make your reservations for an agritourism holiday in Italy. Firstly, you can contact any agritourism property directly and make personal arrangements with the owner. However, this can be time consuming and you may miss out on some of the best locations.
The easiest way to reserve and book a holiday with an agritourism site in Italy is by using one of the large official online platforms. Much like a hotel finder website, these sites will give you the complete range of agritourism businesses across the country, right at your fingertips.
One of the best platforms to use is Agriturismo.it. This easy to use service will give you options in every region of the country and has suitable locations for all budgets.
To find out more and start your search for the perfect agritourism holiday, check out their website: Agriturismo.it
Agritourism Is A Way To Experience The Authentic Italian Rural Life.
If you’re looking for a truly novel way to discover the wonders of the agricultural traditions that have been the backbone of Italian life for thousands of years then an agritourism holiday is the perfect fit for you. So whether it’s vineyards, equestrian properties or small family farms that you’re interested in, you can find the ideal getaway in Italy.
Experiencing the reality of life for rural farmers while enjoying the incredible food products that they grow is a fantastic way to learn while you relax. Ideal for families with children as well as couples and solo travellers, an agritourism holiday is something you may not have considered before but should certainly be on your bucket list!