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Agriturismo in Italy: holidays that preserve rural communities

How agriturismo in Italy preserves rural communities and is an alternative holiday choice

Marijke Everts (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

Agriturismo involves bringing visitors to a place used primarily for agricultural purposes. The history of agriturismo in Italy began in 1965. In 1973, the official agriturismo farmhouse designation was created so tourists could stay on farms and learn from farmers about rural life.

Agriturismo started as an effort to stop people moving away from rural villages after World War II, since the country was withdrawing from its rural past.

Due to some areas having low amounts of arable land and due to high costs of labour in European countries, it can still be difficult for families to stay on farm lands handed down to them through generations. 

EU member states have enhanced their national policies to encourage agriturismo as a method to revive rural areas by diversifying the country’s tourism sector, increasing farm income and creating jobs in rural communities. 

black and white photograph showing some cows in a field with hills behind

Servizio fotografico Perugia, 1967,Paolo Monti, Fondazione Biblioteca Europea di Informazione e Cultura

Italy’s agriturismo is heavily regulated and somewhat restricted due to concerns of hotel and restaurant sectors. Farmers can provide one of three levels of services: snacks and light meals, full course meals or farm holidays which includes meals, accommodation as well as recreational activities. Farmers providing farm holidays can have a maximum of 30 guests per night for up to 160 days a year.

In certain regions, farmers need a license to take part in Agriturismo, which includes things like courses in law, hospitality, financial accounting, hygiene and sanitation. 

Eating and sharing meals plays an important social role in Italy, so the link between agriturismo and local produce continues to attract consumers interested in an alternative touristic experience where they receive more information about the food they consume, the environmental impact and animal welfare.

Because of Agritourism, the Italian countryside has been able to save a significant number of valuable historic farm buildings and preserve traditional agriculture.

By Marijke Everts, Europeana Foundation

This blog is part of Europeana’s Discovering Europe season featuring cultural jewels and hidden gems from across the continent.

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