“Italian food is better…”
How many times have you heard this phrase or thought it yourself while enjoying a simple dish of buffalo mozzarella, juicy firm tomatoes and fresh basil leaves? No sugary sauces, extra garnish, balsamic glaze or creams needed… which raises an existential question felt and understood by Italians abroad and whoever has eaten in Italy before “WHY DOESN’T IT TASTE THIS GOOD ANYWHERE ELSE??”
The answer is simple: PRODUCE.
You might argue it’s Italy’s fertile soil, the diverse landscape within the country, the sunshine which might have a soft spot for “il bel paese”, but truth is that what makes the real difference is the love, the attention and hard work that goes behind every crooked zucchini or rough looking apple – remember to never judge a book by its cover.
When in Italy the luxury doesn’t only lie in having an endless supply of great produce but to be able to experience it’s source first hand. Where? In “Agriuturismi” a combination of agriculture and tourism. In enchanting farmhouses, immersed in the countryside where you can experience a simple rural slower paced Italian life, family homes which invite you in their reality, made of great views, exceptional “farm to table” food, great wines, distinctive architecture and even some local folklore, culture and music. Stays where you can reconnect with nature, learn about the land, and the beautiful things it has to offer!
So put your phones down for a few minutes and envision yourself at one of our favorite Agriturismi in Tuscany:
Agriturismo Il Rigo
When you think of Tuscany, you picture rolling hills, long roads framed by perfectly lined up cypress trees, medieval castles and small hilltop towns.. what you’re envisioning is Val D’Orcia, the most famous region in Tuscany — which stretches across the province of Siena to its north and reaches Grosseto to the west.
In the midst of it all, on top of a hill overlooking a landscape too good to be described, there is this family run farmhouse converted into a B&B.
At Agriturismo il Rigo, expect to wake up to chirping birds, to lose sense of time and space while being hypnotized by the soft movement of hay gently shifting from side to side, enjoy wine and long chats with the wonderful owners Luisa and husband Matthias who purposely and meticulously decided to keep things simple, authentic, without changing the humble nature of the building and you’ll indulge in meals prepared from scratch with seasonal local ingredients, rigorously following traditional recipes.
And if you don’t get too lazy…the area is filled with adventures and places to be discovered, from the nearby natural hot springs to small hilltop towns which will take your breath away.
As you might already know all of our adventures revolve around one main thing, food! So start planning your Rigo stay, with Luisa’s and Matthias favorite places for a bite in Val d’Orcia:
La Bottega di Portanuova (San Quirico d’Orcia)
A tiny and super friendly shop, ideal for a snack with the best cold cuts and cheeses of the area and a glass of micro-brewed craft beer!
Osteria delle Erbe – La Buca Vecchia (Montepulciano)
Tuscan-Sardininan farm restaurant, focused on recipes that use foraged wild herbs, selected by co-owner Caterina Cardia, and local meat bread in the farm!
Buon gusto (Pienza)
The best ice-cream in the area! You’re going to find the great classic, but my favorite are the unexpected specialties, like strawberries and rosemary, lemon and basil or caffè bianco and blueberries!
Agriturismo Pian di Meta Vecchia (Castiglione d’Orcia)
Lost in the wild countryside between Castiglioni and Montalcino, the restaurant of our friends Elena and Andrea is the place for a unique experience! They sold their restaurant in the center of Venice to produce their biodynamic wine in the hills of Val D’Orcia!
Fattoria San Martino (Montepulciano)
Vegan and vegetarian restaurant located in the Agriturismo Fattoria San Martino.
Podere il Casale (Pienza)
Organic dairy farm and restaurant. The view from their terrace is spectacular and it’s a good choice if you travel with kids, as before lunch you can watch the stables of goats and sheep.
Osteria delle Crete (San Giovanni d’Asso)
It is a calm and warm place to stop while driving through the “Crete”. In March go and try the specialties with artichokes of Chiusure or white truffles of the “Crete”. After lunch you can enjoy a walk in the garden Bosco della Ragnaia a few steps away.
La locanda di Fonte alla Vena (San Quirico d’Orcia)
Traditional and elegant! All you need.
A wine bar, placed into a stone-carved cellar (the perfect place to chill on hot summer days), with a surprising selection and passion for natural and biodynamic wines. You can accompany your glass with a selection of local bites and snacks.
Fattoria Poggio Alloro
You’ll get to this place and be inspired and amused, but what’s even more amusing and inspiring is the story, a story of hard work, sacrifices and opportunity, the story of a family, a father, who got to Poggio Alloro with nothing but hope and perseverance to create a better future for him and his family.
“My father, Amico Fioroni was born in 1935 in a small hamlet called Petritoli in the province of Ascoli Piceno, he was born poor, he was born a farmer… In the 50’s my father and his two brothers emigrated from the Marche regions, where they were originally from to San Gimignano, a land of opportunities. Amico arrived in Poggio Alloro in the evening of a hot summer of 1955 to work as a sharecropper. What he found once he arrived was an old farmhouse surrounded by twenty hectares of land ready to be cultivated. This place had a special location on a hillock and from there you had a wonderful view of the towers of San Gimignano. My father was immediately fascinated by it and realized that this place was like no other.”
The owner at the time, Mrs. Landi, had no children and no one to leave the property to, but she knew she wanted to leave it to someone who worked on it, loved it and would keep caring for it. Who better than Amico and his brothers, who for years had cultivated the land as if it was their own. In 1971 the three brothers decided to take a mortgage to buy the property. They were young and full of desire to make the best they could with what they had. Fast forward to today, 49 years later, where Poggio Alloro is home to precious variety of vineyards, a large cultivation of cereals and beans, a pasture for livestock which produces some of the best cheese and meat in the area, myriades of olive groves for that tangy olio nuovo and last but not least a lovely Agriturismo for you to take it all in.
And while you are at it, if a meal at Poggio Alloro is not enough stop by the nearby town of San Gimignano for some great refueling pit stops recommended by the Poggio Alloro family:
Ristorante Hotel Bel Soggiorno
Ristorante La Mandragola
Cum Quibus Ristorante
Ristorante il Ceppo Toscano – for the Bistecca Fiorentina
La Vecchia Nicchia Enoteca – Try the Tonno del Chianti e tartare with tastings of soups of the day, tartare, mixed platters and selections of goat and pecorino cheese based on the season
Osteria del Carcere – Get the Gran Piatto di Affettati e Formaggi (Charcuterie plate) and their tuscan soups
Ebbio In Tuscany
“It was the lifetime dream of one woman, my mother, Francesca Bevilacqua, known as Nirdosh among her closest friends.”
Ebbio is a 13th century farmhouse surrounded by seventeen acres of rustic countryside in the heart of Tuscany, near Siena. Mrs. Bevilacqua bought the property in 1989 in a state of total abandonment and ruin. In her mid-forties, after several trips to India, a change of diet, lifestyle, and clothing, she decided to flee the city forever. Her dream was to create a community where people from all walks of life could share their passions. Ebbio’s farmhouse was certainly big enough to contain her vision, but her vision was even bigger than she had dreamed!
At the beginning it was just Mrs. Bevilacqua and her six-year-old daughter – Sibilla. She meticulously observed her mother striving to live in harmony with nature. In other words, long before we were all glued to social media and our phones, Mrs. Bevilacqua was a pioneer of what has become most rare and appealing to us today, sustainability.
But Sibilla felt differently. She had enough of the commune lifestyle and wanted to explore the world outside. At age thirteen, she ran away.
Twenty years after traveling the world, living in six different countries, and starting two successful companies, she decided to go back, with the idea of helping her mother, just for a short while… But as we all know life never works out as planned and sometimes what we need is right in front of us, the same thing we initially ran away from.
Her mother’s dream became Sibilla’s too. Ebbio became her therapy, her happy place. She felt free. Freer than ever before. From there she made it not only her home but a home for those who, like her, are looking for something they aren’t aware of, or for a simple escape to get in touch with nature and find joy in the simplest most beautiful things life has to offer.
Thirty years after Sibilla’s mom bought the farmhouse, it has evolved from a slightly disorganized commune to one of the first wellness retreats of its kind, where true luxury lies in being able to unplug and reconnect. With nature, with animals, with others – and yes, with yourself.
We are a family agriturismo placed in between Tuscany and Umbria with the production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Red Wine.
A little bit of our story. Our family owns this house from 1543. Since then, Cozzano has been devoted to the people. It has been a cultural center for noble families, a ballroom, public oven to bake bread and pizza altogether, a shoemaker shop, a barn, the first elementary school in the area, where my grandmother and great grandmother worked as teachers, during wars Cozzano served as a shelter to people. Since 1978 the villa was being abandoned till 2001. That year, right after getting married, my parents, Cristiano and Manuela, have decided to restore the house and open its doors for people from all over the world.
They fell in love with the place and dedicated all their life to maintaining the property. But, three years ago my family experienced difficult times, and my parents lost the opportunity to continue hosting people. They were at the edge of selling the property. It was by far the hardest period for me personally. During one month, I have experienced quite a lot, my mother got cancer, my aunt died on my hands, I lost the opportunity to continue my football career due to the broken ankle, end of the relationship. All these circumstances led to the problem of speaking and anorexia. And when my parents told me that they are going to sell the Villa Cozzano, I understood immediately that I have to try saving my land, which in a consequence has saved me in return.
Hard work at Cozzano was the only cure to all the difficulties I had and the only source of power to continue. Now with a huge appreciation to all that Cozzano has done for me, I feel that my duty is to keep the Cozzano village alive. My goal is to preserve the lands, protect them from the destructive impact of industries, ensure jobs for local people, and to re-establish the unifying atmosphere, as it used to be in Italy years ago. On a par with following old traditions, we are having international points of view. 2 years ago I began to host people from all over the world via workaway.com.
Now, we are a mixed team of people who have been working here for most of their life and young people from all over the world. And the one thing that unites so different kinds of people – is the love for Cozzano. Apart from hosting tourists, we are launching international shipping of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Red Wine, and our goal is to develop in a brand that can provide our neighbours with the opportunity to use their olive groves and vineyards which are standing idle at the moment.