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Italian AgriturismiJuly 17, 2008 By: Sharri Whiting De Masi Travel Agent
Local food and wine, plus great value for the dollar
If luxury city hotels are beyond the budget, but your client doesn’t want to rent a private villa, the Italian agriturismo is the perfect cost-effective property to slot into a vacation itinerary outside the big cities. Agriturismi (plural for agriturismo), which are working farms that offer food and hospitality, are required by law to serve guests a majority of products either grown on the property or obtained locally. Most visitors book with half-board, ensuring a home-cooked traditional meal with local wines. An agriturismo can range from simple to elegant and many have sweeping views of olive groves, vineyards, mountains or the sea. Guests can take cooking classes, visit wineries or go by car or bicycle to visit the medieval towns and villages that dot the Italian countryside. During the summer and fall, there are sagre (festivals celebrating a particular product, such as truffles or artichokes), reenactments of medieval jousting matches or horse races, concerts under the stars and open winery days in every region.
Relais Campiume is set amid lush greenery in Emilla Romagna
These are some of the more notable agriturismi from among the hundreds across Italy.
Fattoria di Titignano in Umbria between Todi and Montefalco is a fortified village built in the 12th century to house counts and princes, as well as villagers, within its walls. Today, it is an agriturismo, owned by the Corsini family, with spectacular views of the Tiber River, vineyards and farmland. The main castle is now a series of dining rooms, where both guests and visitors relish the multicourse meals made from local produce. The rooms are simple and comfortable; all have full baths, and some have kitchen facilities. The location is ideal for day trips to Todi, Orvieto, Assisi, Perugia, Siena, Montefalco and Deruta. Agents can call 011-39-076-330-8000 or e-mail [email protected].
A bedroom in medieval Borgo La Torre
Close to Foligno, Rita and Sergio Marini’s Borgo La Torre is a lovely example of Umbrian medieval architecture in the rich truffle area. The rooms are gracefully decorated and overlook the wooded mountainside. Truffle hunts with veteran hunter Dino Meniconi and his loyal dog, Lola, embark from here—the truffles are brought back to be served in delicious bruchettas or pastas at lunch in the dining room. Activities include horseback riding or hiking in the hills surrounding the agriturismo, which is 3,000 feet above sea level, with spectacular views in every direction and fresh mountain air. Spoleto, one of Umbria’s most beautiful towns, is close by, as is Assisi. Agents can call 011-39-074-263-3018 or e-mail [email protected].
Relais Campiume is just outside Brisighella in Emilia Romagna, one of Italy’s best regions for food. Both a winery and a bed-and-breakfast, Campiume, built in 1301, is run by young winemaker Filippo Manetti. The five rooms aren’t large, but are finely wrought, from the 14th-century doors to the Philippe Staarck bathrooms. Filippo offers wines and oils to taste, and there are several culinary events to enjoy during the year. Campiume will organize day trips to Faenza, where ceramic is made, and Ravenna, the ancient Roman capital known for mosaics, as well as olive oil and wine excursions. Agents can call 011-39-054-680-112 or 011-39-339-113-7070 (cell), or e-mail [email protected].
A simply stated bedroom at Relais Campiume
The Trippetta family’s Casale dei Frontini, with its wonderful view of nearby Todi, is the quintessential agriturismo—five simple, comfortable rooms and three apartments in a restored convent (circa 1700), great local food, rambling gardens and a playground for children. Lunch and dinners are served on the veranda in summer or in the old olive mill—the signora does not have a menu, but no matter what she serves, it is made from the freshest ingredients. The restaurant is open to the public with prior reservations. Clients can taste wines along the Sagrantino or Cantico wine routes from here: A marked walking trail begins at the entrance to the property. Agents can call 011-39-075-885-2174 or e-mail [email protected].
In Apuglia (Puglia), in the heel of Italy’s boot, Pietro Petroni’s 500-acre Lama di Luna is a bio-masseria, centered around an agriturismo, and run with the goal of environmental responsibility. (Masseria is the Puglian word for farm.) An 18th-century building for coloni and mazzedri (farmers and sharecroppers), it has 44 chimneys. The 20 large double rooms (complete with fireplaces) open into a dramatic center courtyard and, before 1910, each room slept an entire family of up to 10 people. Lidia Matticchio of the TV series Lidia’s Kitchen has come twice to cook at Lama di Luna, where guests have the first right for tables in the restaurant. Agents can call 011-39-088-356-9505 or 011-39-328-011-7375 (cell), or e-mail [email protected].
The Agriturismo Il Portico is an example of the region's indigenous cone-shaped houses
In Puglia’s Itria Valley, between the Mediterranean and the Adriatic seas, Agriturismo Il Portico is a charming spot amid olive, almond and fruit trees. The agriturismo is within reconstructed trulli, the cone-shaped houses indigenous to the area. There are two apartments and two double rooms connected by rounded stone walkways. The Puglisi Allegria family owns Il Portico and the surrounding farmlands, which produce the ingredients for excellent meals. Agents can call 011-39-080-444-9653 or e-mail [email protected].