On an agriturismo, or farm stay holiday, clients can relax in rustic surroundings while tucking into fresh, home-cooked food and local wine. Abra Dunsby rounds up options from around the world
Inspiring rural scenery, peace and quiet and a plate piledhigh with food plucked fresh from the field – an agriturismo, or farmstay, is ideal for clients who prioritise nature and their bellies while on holiday.
As the name suggests, the agriturismo is an Italian concept, signifying an independently owned farm with rooms for guests to stay in. There are more than 20,000 in Italy, most of which are listed on agriturismo.it, with countless choices for both families and couples.
The ambiance is laid-back, with clients cohabiting alongside just a handful of other guests, if any at all. An agriturismo stay not only brings clients closer to nature but also allows them to spend time with locals, away from touristy hotels. The focus is, of course, the food; simple, often regional, and soul- stirringly good.
Agriturismi (plural of agriturismo) aren’t just restricted to Italy, however. The farmstay trend continues to grow, with options now popping up everywhere from Brazil to Tanzania.
Tuscany is rich in agriturismo stays and offers an abundance of product. Standouts include a new vegan trip from Intrepid Travel, during which clients stay at I Pini agriturismo overlooking the hills of San Gimignano; and a new Taste of Tuscany self-guided walking holiday from Exodus and Headwater, exploring the region’s olive groves, lakes and vineyards and also incorporating a Tuscan cooking class.
Simply Italian sells agriturismi in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Puglia. The operator’s managing director, Daniele Broccoli, says they are becoming increasingly popular due to the “relaxed atmosphere created by the owners and locals, and the Italian food and wine available from source”. Broccoli recommends that clients hire a car, giving them the freedom to get out and explore.
“Properties offering bike hire or with a swimming pool are now increasingly in demand and attract the family market,” he adds.
Tuscany agriturismo stays can be combined with time in Florence, while the operator’s new options in Puglia combine trips to Ostuni and Alberobello with pasta-making masterclasses and a Salento wine-tasting tour.
Prestige Holidays has added to its range of agriturismi in Sicily and Puglia this year. Italian specialist Paul Stratton says: “Sicily really does lend itself to agriturismo holidays. Great for the more independent traveller, these properties tend to be small and family-run, ranging from restored farmhouses to winery or olive oil estates.
"The best times to visit are either April to June or September and October, mainly because the temperature is ideal, plus the seasonal produce is at its best.”
Book it: Prestige Holidays offers a five-night Sicily twin centre from £635pp, departing April 7, 2019 including flights, accommodation and car hire. prestigeholidays.co.uk
Famed for its sherry and sun- drenched pastoral landscapes, Andalucia is the perfect setting for a food-filled countryside retreat.
Located in the quiet village of Los Marines is Finca Buenvino, a farmstay that’s been lauded by TV chefs including Darina Allen and Thomasina Miers. Here, clients can dine on meals made with organic, seasonal fruit and vegetables picked from the garden – produce includes aubergines, fennel, cherries and figs.
The finca (literally farm or estate in Spanish) also keeps chickens for fresh eggs and Iberian pigs for cured Serrano hams and chorizo. Meals are finished off with the finca’s own dry Oloroso sherry, blended for them by sherry brand Gonzalez Byass in Jerez.
Clients can sign up to four or five-day cookery courses at the finca, or take time out to enjoy the surrounding forest of Sierra de Aracena national park on country walks.
Book it: Sunvil offers a three-night B&B stay at Finca Buenvino from £512pp based on two sharing, including flights and car hire. sunvil.co.uk
The Balearic Islands are home to 29 agriturismi, from the family-friendly Son Siurana in Majorca to the five-star Atzaro Hotel in Ibiza. Cugo Gran in Menorca is the island’s only five-star option, set on a 250-acre countryside estate.
Guests can collect eggs from the chickens, pet the donkeys and spot more than 2,000 turtles residing on the grounds. The hotel recently introduced a paella masterclass run by head chef Roberto Sarrio, and clients can also try local wines as part of wine-tasting sessions (the hotel has its own vineyard and produces its own wine).
General manager Samuel Santos says that agriturismi also appeal to guests with an environmental conscience. “Preservation of the environment, self-management and the use of local products are the main foundations of an agriturismo,” he says.
“These aspects are increasingly important to our guests and to a new generation that really cares about the environment and being immersed locally when on holiday.” Cugo Gran can also be hired as an exclusive-use villa in the summer months.
Book it: Red Savannah offers a week’s exclusive-use stay at the 11-bedroom Cugo Gran from £2,105pppn based on 22 people booking for a week in low seaon, including flights and transfers. redsavannah.com
Fazenda Catucaba is located halfway between Sao Paulo and the Pousada Picinguaba, sitting on more than 1,000 acres of organic farmland dotted with rivers and lakes. The building dates back to the 1850s and incorporates a new lakehouse, constructed last year and popular with families in need of more space.
All food harvested is organic, with the farm producing coffee, cachaca, cheese, meat and plenty of seasonal fruit and veg. “Guests can ask to be involved in any task they want to around the farm. Alternatively, the concierge can arrange excursions around the property including hikes, horseback riding, picnics and yoga,” says Matt Nilsson, South America product executive at Audley Travel.
Book it: Audley Travel can include a stay at Fazenda Catucaba as part of an 11-day tailor-made Brazil trip. Prices start from £5,860pp based on two sharing including flights, transfers, accommodation and excursions. audleytravel.com
Gibbs Farm lies close to the slopes of the Ngorongoro crater. Originally a coffee farm in the 1920s, the peaceful guest-house now grows produce in its coffee and vegetable fields, and allows its guests to help feed the animals and milk the cows.
Daniel Heatley, Africa product executive at Kuoni, says: “People come here for the Ngorongoro crater but so many say their favourite part of their trip was the homely farmyard surrounds of Gibbs Farm. It’s an interactive experience with a variety of excursions both in the gardens and with the animals.”
Guests can immerse themselves in activities including bread-making, coffee-roasting and gathering around the campfire after meals to hear tales of Iraqw culture and tribal folklore.
Book it: Kuoni offers a three-night stay at Gibbs Farm as part of its five-day Unsurpassed Tanzania package, priced from £4,995pp and including flights and transfers. kuoni.co.uk
There’s been a real boom in agriturismi in recent years and there’s a huge variety of experiences on offer – from the humbler agriturismi offering simple, traditional accommodation with the chance to immerse yourself in the life of the farm and enjoy rustic home- cooked meals, to more luxurious properties with excellent facilities such as outdoor pools, high-speed Wi-Fi and flatscreen TVs, as well as a more refined gastronomic o ering. Staying at an agriturismo will appeal to people who enjoy good food and wine and are looking for an authentic, under- the-skin experience, as well as families who will appreciate the space and freedom of the countryside setting. Most agriturismi are family-run, and you can expect a warm welcome.