Italy is one of my favourite world destinations. The history, food and landscape all make for a well balanced holiday with plenty of opportunity for adventure and relaxation, if you visit in shoulder season when the heat isn’t too oppressive. We were eager to head to Sicily in June, though slightly worried about how we would manage to have a relaxing break whilst taking care of our very active one year old… luckily my research brought me to the burgeoning industry of Agro Tourism which would turn out to make our trip much more relaxing than we ever could have hoped.
What is Agro Tourism?
Though the type and style range considerably, they are essentially old farms that have converted into B&Bs that are luxurious, homely and provide an “authentic” experience. That is to say, it shows how life is in the countryside, it is of course a world away from the cosmopolitan side of Italy which is equally authentic… Some are still working farms that offer opportunities to visit their olive groves or allotments and they tend to provide meals using their produce. This could range from delicious honey over home made yoghurt, to cakes using the wheat grown in their fields, and if it’s a place that services traditional dinners too, you’re in for a treat with the local olive oil, tomatoes, aubergines and more. Agro Tourism is a huge market in Italy and accounts for a considerable proportion of accommodations on offer.
If you’re not already convinced by the food, there’s more. Lessons in Italian cooking, private tours, children’s playgrounds, babysitting services or just a good old fashioned swimming pool. There’s something for everyone, and we couldn’t wait to try it out.
Our Sicilian Experience
On our holiday to Sicily with a 1 year old, we were well aware that getting time to do any cooking courses or other time intensive activities would be a long shot. This holiday was for relaxation mixed with exploring cute towns and villages, with the added bonus of staying somewhere where dinners was cooked for us across from our room, well within reach of our sleeping baby. Any parent will know what a luxury this is, to be on holiday and actually enjoy a 4 course meal in peace!
On this trip we decided to visit South Eastern Sicily, a region with gorgeous Baroque villages to explore and equally stunning beaches. It’s an ideal all rounder destination, for those interested in architecture, Greek and Roman history, lazing by the beach, great street food, gastronomic cuisine and friendly locals. Our trip started in Syracuse, renowned for its ancient Greek and Roman amphitheatres and cute old town of Ortygia. We stayed in an Agro Tourism called Pozzo di Mazza just 10 minutes outside Ortygia. Surrounded by fields, this converted farm has rustic rooms, a big swimming pool with shade and the option of Sicilian dinner in the evening. We enjoyed homemade cakes for breakfast and delicious pastas, fish, home made ice creams and local wines in the evening. The host Suzanne was incredibly hospitable and we really felt like we were being welcomed into her home. On request she gave us a room where the baby monitor would work if we were at dinner or at the pool, making us feel very relaxed indeed!
Valle Dell’Acanto was our second Agro Tourism of the trip was further south, 10 minutes outside of the town Modica. We chose this location as it was close to many interesting Baroque towns including Modica itself as well as Ragusa Ibla, Noto and Scicly. It was also a 10 minute drive from one of the best beaches I’ve been to; vast, shallow and well equipped with showers, toilets sun beds and snacks. Despite its convenient location this accommodation felt completely rural and isolated from the world, with only the sounds of nature around us. It was more like a traditional B&B in that the hosts didn’t live on site and they were self catering rooms, but this was what we were looking for as 3 nights eating 4 course meals plus restaurant lunches was plenty for us! That said, the breakfast basket they dropped off each morning was immense and for dinner we were happy to spend the rest of the week eating focaccia style pizza from the local bakery and pasta using the top quality ingredients in the supermarkets. Another perk for a foodie like me on holiday!
Where to find Agro Tourism Accommodation
I used the website Agriturismo.it to book our accommodation and found the website very easy to use and filter options such as pools and restaurants. You can also find them on booking.com but I prefer using the former as you can email the hosts directly to ask them questions (all that I contacted had free baby beds available and some had high chairs too).
For help designing an itinerary for Sicily that suits your style, get in touch!