Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Agriturismo, Country House and B&B Accommodations in Italy
This is a short attempt to help international travelers willing to find their way in the sometimes mysterious world of three kinds of accommodation facilities whose popularity is increasing in Italy: Agriturismo, Country House and Bed and Breakfast (B&B). The main characteristic that differentiate these three types of accommodation from hotels is that they are smaller and that you'll probably be taken care of by the owners.
My suggestion when you are looking for these types of accommodation is to read all the information on their websites, read all the reviews that you can find and don't relay on the "type" of the accommodation to choose. Different facilities in different regions may offer different activities, courses and style. None of these categories of accommodation are intrinsecally cheaper or more expensive; more "rustic" or modern; fancier, simpler, more sophisticated, more genuine, better or worse. You just have to find the place that is good for you. When I enjoyed my stay Agriturismo, Country House or B&B, the real deal has always been a caring and charming host.
On the Slow Travel website we refer to "vacation rentals" or "villa rentals". These are apartments or houses where you have the whole apartment our house and they include a kitchen. These may be part of an Agriturismo or Country House. Even B&Bs sometimes offer a vacation rental type of accommodation.
An Agriturismo is a working farm with accommodation and/or restaurant. The accommodation can be offered in rooms, apartments, houses (villas), or camping. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners may be offered but may not be available. If meals or breakfasts are served almost all the products used to prepare them must come from the owner's own and local farms. The number of rooms (apartments, etc.), number of restaurant seats and opening period depend on the size and activities of the farm (a big farm can "support" a big Agriturismo).
What characterizes all Agriturismos is that it's a way for farmers to differentiate their incomes, giving them direct access to the market for their products, either serving their produce as meals for guests or selling it directly for guests to cook or take home.
This is the most complicated category to explain. Country houses are houses in the countryside offering accommodation in rooms or apartments. So, what's the difference between a Country House and an Agriturismo? Basically only that a Country House doesn't have to stand on a working farm and that the owners do not have to provide food directly from their farm. In some regions if meals or breakfasts are served some of the products used to prepare them must come directly from farms in the same region.
Bed and Breakfast (B&B)
B&Bs in Italy are quite new. Every region has a different law regarding B&Bs and some of them have no laws at all.
The main difference between a B&B and the Agriturismo and Country House is that B&Bs are private houses. The number of rooms in a B&B is limited by law - they can have from a maximum of three rooms (Tuscany, Emilia Romagna) to maximum of six rooms (Puglia). The owners usually have to live in the same house. The B&B can't stay open all year long and the owners have to serve breakfasts but dinners are usually not available. The other requisites vary greatly depending on each Region (in Le Marche the products offered for breakfast must come from farms within the Region, in Liguria the owner is asked not to prepare cakes or other items for breakfast but to buy them!).
A Mixture of Accommodation Types
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