From farm to table: Italy agriturismo cooking vacations
In recent years, many American restaurants have focused on using local ingredients from local farms — but that's been a trend for quite some time in Italy in no small part due to agriturismi. Agriturismo, short for agricultural tourism, started in the 1980s and picked up steam in the early 1990s as a way for farmers to sustain their farm and grow. By offering rooms, Italy cooking classes, and producing products, the appeal of staying at agriturismi quickly attracted tourists from all over the world.
Some agriturismi now are simply farmhouse B&Bs that rarely produce the quality experiences tourists are looking for. That's why, here at The International Kitchen, we focus on offering true farm to table experiences at working farms, such as our aptly named Lombardy cooking vacation "Authentic Farm to Table" in the Southern Valtellina Valley.
The gorgeous natural landscape full of national parks, mountain peaks, and vineyards — perfect for the outdoor traveler — is just one of this program's many attractions. While staying at the agriturismo La Fiorida, you'll not only get to spend time outdoors hiking, you'll also see how a true farm operates, as they breed cows, pigs, and goats to produce meats and cheeses. In fact, in one of your cooking classes, you'll tour their family farm and learn how to make butter and cheese.
Another agriturismo cooking vacation that we offer is "Discover the Umbrian countryside," which is just 20 minutes from the Tuscany border. Here guests can stay in stone houses and swim in a beautiful pool while admiring grand views of the Umbrian valley below.
This particular agriturimso makes their own olive oil, which you'll be able to taste. They also, naturally, focus on using local ingredients in their cooking classes and meals, such as the region's famous "Chianina" beef that they get from the butcher just over the hill. They also use vegetables that grow not only in their garden but in the wild, such as asparagus and mushrooms.
Staying at an agriturismo may be a rustic experience, but it's a worthwhile one, particularly if you're interested in experiencing fresh and truly local cuisine.By Peg Kern