During the 1970s, many Italian farmers couldn’t make ends meet and left their farms to earn a living in the city. The Italian government was concerned about the loss of small farms and the impact on traditional life. So to encourage farmers to hang in there, they created Italy Agriturismo in 1985.

The program provided incentives to restore abandoned rural buildings and make them suitable for overnight guests. Two rules distinguish agriturismi from rural bed and breakfasts. First of all, the property must have fewer than 30 beds, and the majority of income has to come from agriculture.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Italy agritourism gives travelers the opportunity to experience the Italian countryside in peaceful, and often beautiful surrounding. One or more meals is usually included in the rate and they’re prepared with home-grown or local products.

Many agriturismi are anything but rustic, with pools, riding stables, and golf. The hosts are proud of their region and often eager to act as tour guides, concierges, travel advisors, or language teachers.

The Piedmont region of Italy is one of the best for food and wine lovers. With vineyards growing the grapes that are used to make Barolo and Barbaresco wines, white truffles, the world’s best snails, Piemontese cattle, and artisanal cheeses and salumi, Piemonte has some of the best cuisine in Italy. And the scenery is gorgeous.

Wine tasting here is a little different that in the United States, and drop-ins aren’t usually welcome. But most towns have an enoteca that pours all the local wines.

The best Agriturismo Piemonte.

Turin – Torino – is the largest city in the province and the most convenient airport. To make the most of your time here, you’ll need to rent a car. But distances are relatively small and the roads are good.

There are several regions in Piemonte where you can base yourself. The Langhe was so named because the hills rolling through the area look like tongues. It’s lovely, uncrowded, and the restaurants here are very affordable.

Monferrato is best known for its main town, Asti, and its main product, Asti Spumante. It’s a great place to shop, especially at the market which takes place on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. The other well-known town in Monferrato is Acqui Terme, where there’s a natural spring.

The most popular area is the Piemonte Lakes. Lake Orta, located to the west of the better-known Lake Maggiore, is a delightful sub-Alpine lake where you can enjoy the beauty with fewer crowds. The town of Santo Giulio is located on a small island and there are lots of cafes overlooking the lake, with the spectacular Alps in the background.

There’s a wide selection of agriturismi in Piedmont to choose from. Some of the best are Cascine del Castello di Bagnolo, Tenuta la Marchesa, Cascina Barac, Villa la Favorita, Cascina Bozzetti, and La Due Cascine.

You can stay in a restored farmhouse, on a dairy farm, at a winery, on the grounds of an old castle, or in a 17th-century villa.

Find more places to visit in Italy.

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