Agriturismo – Tourism and Agriculture for a new business
Italy initiated a new form of vacationing in the late 80s, the agricultural vacation. Very similar to the “Dude Ranch” concept it was possible for individuals to leave the city, go and live with a family on a farm for several weeks, sleep an extra room, work the farm and have an opportunity to return, for a short period of time, to a simpler era. Initially these vacations were rustic and only the most determined would attempt an Agriturismo vacation. This was soon to change.
Italy has a disproportionate number of castles, palaces, and summer retreats constructed in the period from the 1400s to the late 1800s. As demographics have changed many of these structures have been abandoned by their owners, some were severely damaged in WWI and WWII, or in the case of family owned farms, they were simply too expensive to maintain. To protect the country’s cultural treasures and to discourage developers from tearing down these bits and pieces of our history the government passed a series of laws.
The primary piece of legislation financed the renovation of these structures through low interest loans and grants that could amount to 80% of the total renovation costs. In order to encourage the ongoing maintenance another law gives tax incentives to owners who employ these structures in a tourist enterprise. To avoid fraudulent enterprises the law defined what an Agriturismo is. Primarily an Agriturismo is a restaurant that grows directly on the property at least 60% of the products used in the facility. This was expanded to include rooms for rent and other types of vacation oriented businesses.
The response was tremendous and a new business was born. Numerous structures in decay were recovered and the Agriturismo took on a more upscale personality. Wineries, farms, and local producers developed top-line services. Entire towns were purchased and renovated into 5 star vacation destinations. The tax incentives allowed the entrepreneurs to recover their investment while maintaining reasonable prices. The traditional vacation to the beach had a competitor and it is having tremendous success, particularly with the foreign tourist looking to experience Italian life without the fighting the masses at some famous beach location.
The Agriturismo is not the destination for those looking for the disco scene and high profile restaurants. It is the perfect location for individuals wishing to get away from the modern world, relax, eat really great traditional food, drink local wines and learn the how and why from those who have been doing it for generations. This is not to say that the facilities are Spartan. Most Agriturismo have swimming pools, suites with complete cooking facilities, great local restaurants, Spas, horseback riding, nature oriented tours, high-speed internet and sometimes world renowned cooking schools.
The Agriturismo is a great deal, the costs are lower than city based facilities, usually they are located within 30 minutes from primary tourist destinations and they are a sure way to rejuvenate the soul.
Tags: Wine Vacation Agriturismo Food and Wine Italian Wine B & B Travel Italy