When planning our stay in Emilia Romagna, I assumed we would end up staying in hotels in some of the cities and towns that line the highway running between Bologna and Milan. I imagined hotels in Modena or Parma. I was not expecting to stay in an agriturismo in Italy.
In fact, I really was not sure what an agriturismo was. It sounds rural. Can we do rural? Am I going to have to work the farm to stay there?
What is an Italian Agriturismo
The word agriturismo is broadly defined as a farm stay, or any type of restaurant or accommodations which are offered on a working farm. It is essentially a melding of the words “agriculture” and “tourism” in Italian.
It is a way for people to experience rural Italy, to be close to nature, to eat locally grown food and to understand where their food is coming from. I was on board to try something new, even if we generally tend to stay in Italian cities and towns. And, no, we did not have to work the farm.
When we first landed in Emilia Romagna, and after getting a little lost while perfecting how to drive in Italy, we arrived in the tiny town of Castelvetro di Modena. Without a GPS or a detailed local map, we just continued to follow signs to the town center. But once we arrived we had no idea where to find Agriturismo Le Casette, our home for our first few nights in Italy.
We pulled into a tiny little shopping center and I tried to ask the person working the counter of the local tobacco shop. She did not speak any English, and my Italian is borderline pitiful. The conversation was brief. She quickly informed me that it was hard to find, but called the owner to come get us. Now, that is family owned business hospitality.
We followed the owner up the hillside into town, down the winding roads and up the steep driveway to Agriturismo Le Casette. It was rustic and indeed a farm stay. The main stone buildings were surrounded by farms and vineyards, and a gravel driveway wound up the hill. There were dogs barking and some chickens around. There was a crispness to the air, a tinge of brown to the surrounding vines. I felt almost like I needed to whisper, so as not to disrupt the peacefulness of the property.
We were escorted to our room, just down the driveway. It was clean and simple, no frills. I thought it would do just fine. It was late afternoon, and we were informed dinner would be at eight o’clock in the main building. It was a friendly welcome, but the agriturismo was quiet.
What to Eat at an Agriturismo
Breakfast was not included in our room, but we had a little kitchenette and small refrigerator. We stocked up on some juice and yogurt for our breakfast. We, of course, had a full on espresso maker in our room, so that was a pleasant way to wake up.
The most amazing thing about eating at the agriturismo was the fresh, local food. We dined there our first night and because it was low season, we were the only ones dining that evening.
The service was pleasant and one of the servers spoke English. She brought us so much food, and Le Casette’s own house made wine, a deep red and bubbling Lambrusco. She made us feel entirely welcome and stuffed us silly.
There was no menu. The server just started bringing courses, and offering more of each course. The fresh pastas were amazing and she asked if we wanted seconds. I was so glad I declined because the meat course included so much food Eric partially had to wheel me out of there. They did not skimp whatsoever on the meal. We later learned that many of the dishes we ate at the agriturismo were specialties of Emilia Romagna, but as there was no menu, we really had no idea what we were eating, like gnocco fritto and passatelli.
Although, I heard all of the hard work going on in the kitchen, and did feel kind of bad that they were doing all of that cooking, just for us. I assumed the family also ate a similar meal, or at least similar dishes. But still, I felt bad that they were going so out of their way for us. It was true hospitality.
Most important, at the end of the meal a large bottle of chilled limoncello was placed on the table with two shot glasses. It was the perfect end to our first dinner back in Italy. I soaked it all in and enjoyed the sickly sweet, lemony liquor before hobbling my way back to our room.
What to Expect at an Agriturismo
The food was great at the agriturismo, and the room was good as well. I am glad we had the experience.
Some of the downsides to staying at an agriturismo? It’s rural Italy. It’s quiet. There was no WiFi, and most of the staff did not speak English. It is family owned and operated, and although everyone was friendly, we felt kind of like we were on our own. No reception, no concierge. We used Agriturismo Le Casette as a home base for our first few days touring the region, so we did not spend time during the day at the property, which meant this was not a problem.
If you are looking to get away from it all, to be remote, to be in the country, I would definitely recommend an agriturismo in Italy. But for us, we are city folk, through and through.
Planning a Trip to Emilia Romagna?
Looking for more travel tips on Emilia Romagna, and how to eat the best food in Italy? My book The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy, is available on Amazon now. If you are a NOOK reader, it is also available for download on Barnes and Noble.
More About Our Trip
We were supported during our tour by Emilia Romagna Tourism, but all of my opinions, and all of my yummy sounds, are of course my own. For information on agriturismo in Italy, contact the Modena tourism office or Modenatur.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.