Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Budget for Your Vacation--Pt. 4 (Lodging-Agriturismi)

Continuing my series on How to Budget for your Vacation, we've been discussing all the very different forms of lodging for travelers. We've talked about hostels, bed & breaksfasts, local vs. chain hotels, and today we'll be focusing on Agriturismi.

An agriturismo (the singular ends with an "o" and the plural ends with an "i") by definition is a combination of the words "agriculture" and "tourism" in Italian and is what might be referred to as "farm holidays" or "vacation farms" in other countries. For the sake of simplicity, in this post, I'll be referring to the Italian agriturismo but with the awareness that other countries offer the same, or similar, types of vacations.

The positives and negatives regarding a stay at an agriturismo need to be weighed out as you're planning your vacation. Because this form of lodging is on a farm, it is typically in a somewhat rural location that has to be arrived at by car so if you're planning on using nothing but public transportation for your European vacation, you should take that into consideration. Having said that, there are some agriturismi out there that might be willing to make arrangements to meet you at the local train station upon arrival. However, realize that without a car, if you're planning on seeing some of the local sights, unless you are within walking distance of the nearest village, you will be "stuck" at your agriturismo until it's time to leave. Of course if this leg of your vacation is strictly for rest and relaxation, you've chosen the right place in which to be "stuck"!

Agriturismi offer a wide variety of venues suitable for every type of traveler. Solo travel or family vacations, rustic or luxurious locations, romantic or girlfriend getaways, there are agriturismi for every type of traveler. There are even some hostels set up in family farmhouses or barns in Italy as well as other countries. On the whole, agriturismi are family-owned, family-run businesses that allow the owners to subsidize the income from their farm through the agriturismo thus allowing the traveler, YOU, to experience what life is like in the rural part of the country that you are visiting. This is the perfect way to rejuvenate during your frantic, "have to see everything" European vacation. The whole point of an agriturismo is to slow down and enjoy the surrounding countryside. Drink in the vistas as you drink your wine. Appreciate the sunset as you work your way through a four or five course dinner. Enjoy your morning cappuccino after a swim. You can do that here. You SHOULD do that here!

Most agriturismi offer at least one meal with your lodging and the other meals can be paid for separately. Because most agriturismi are working farms, the meals almost always consist of products grown and/or raised on the farm, and also sometimes found locally. For this reason alone, you will want to have all your meals at your agriturismo. This is your chance to indulge yourself in the local food and wine. This is one of the reasons you came to Italy, no?

Agriturismi sometimes offer specialty vacations for aspiring cooks, wine lovers, and even those who wish to learn the Italian language. These are great second and third vacations when you've traveled to Italy once or twice already and you're ready to just spend some time in the Umbrian or Tuscan countryside.

Personally, I've never spent time in an agriturismo, but the next time I travel to Italy, I plan on spending at least 3-5 days at one. I've got one picked out already and I'm excited at the prospect of enjoying the Italian countryside as I enjoy the local food and sip on a glass of vino.

How to find the right agriturismo for you? There are several websites specializing in agriturismi. I can send you some links if you'd like to drop me a line. Better yet, save yourself some time and energy and hire someone like me to research them for you.

In my next "Weekend Word to the Wise", I'll share with you how I decided on which Agriturismo I'm planning on visiting. It's an easy way for you to get ideas and discover places you might want to visit on your dream vacation as well. On our next post about lodging, I'll be discussing eco-hotels and eco-vacations.

Until then, stop dreaming about your next vacation and let's go!


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GlobeDiva said...

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Safe travels,